‘Ants on her desk’: How some students were awarded ‘estimated grades’

State exams body says practice aims to ensure students not unfairly disadvantaged

One student was awarded an ‘estimated grade’ after being distracted by ants on their desk. Photograph: iStock

One student was awarded an ‘estimated grade’ after being distracted by ants on their desk. Photograph: iStock

 

Hundreds of Junior and Leaving Certificate students have been awarded grades based on estimates by their schools due to errors such as scripts being lost or candidates being given the wrong exam papers.

A breakdown of some of the reasons cited for the award of these grades, based on internal State Examinations Commission (SEC) records, is listed below.

The commission’s practice of awarding these estimated grades has not been publicly acknowledged and does not appear to be referred to in published documents.

In a statement, the commission said these awards were aimed at ensuring candidates are not disadvantaged by circumstances outside of their control, and that it has been “completely open” with individual schools and students on these matters.

Here is a list of some of the reasons cited for the awarding of these grades, based on internal records kept by the SEC:

“Word processor did not save 200 words”
(Leaving Cert English paper two)

“Ants on her desk and clothes distracting”
(Leaving Cert English paper one)

“Alleged intimidation by another student”
(Leaving Cert English paper one)

“Sat higher-level paper one by his own error, and ordinary level paper 2”.
(Leaving Cert maths paper one)

“Candidates shared maths formulas book”
(Leaving Cert maths)

“Superintendent’s behaviour”
(Leaving Cert art)

“Model was replaced during exam, not similar enough to previous model”
(Leaving Cert art practical)

“Paper one was interpreted incorrectly”
(Leaving Cert art practical)

“Exam time cut short by 10 minutes”
(Leaving Cert home economics)

“Distracted by another student in the same special centre, and by other students in the main centre which were clearly visible from the special centre”
(Leaving Cert English paper one)

“Candidate sat paper one at ordinary level and paper two at higher level.”
(Leaving Cert Irish )

“Candidate expected to have additional time instead of rest breaks”
(Leaving Cert English paper one)

“Candidate sat ordinary level instead of foundation level”
(Leaving Cert maths)

“Incident occurred during examination”
(Leaving Cert art practical)

“Candidates sat one pose at higher level and another pose at ordinary level” (Leaving Cert art practical)

“Candidate was disturbed during the examination”
(Leaving Cert information & communication technology)

“Candidate disturbed during exam”
(Junior Cert business studies higher level)

“Exam stopped by super 30 mins early”
(Junior Cert English)

“Clock stopped, not brought to students’ attention until 30 mins later”
(Junior Cert maths)

“Candidate sat higher level by mistake”
(Junior Cert religious education)

“Candidate disturbed during exam”
(Junior Cert business studies)

“Candidate completed exam using tape recorder, CD for paper 2 broken”
(Junior Cert English paper 2)