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May 27, 2008



An A+ What did you get?

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There are all sorts of ways to cheat on a test, such as copying the answers from the person at the next desk when the teacher isn't looking. In England earlier this month, however, it was even easier than that to pass the year-end General Certificate of Secondary Education exam in music. All a student had to do was turn over the page on which the questions were printed ... because that's where the answers were. As a result, no one knows for sure who peeked and who didn't, except the 12,000 young people who sat for the test.

Red-faced officials at the board that generated it – Oxford, Cambridge, and RSA Examinations – admit that "more detail than is usual" appeared with the names of composers, which were there to acknowledge copyrights forthe source material covered in the questions. The board estimates that "a maximum of 5 percent of the marks ... are potentially affected." No one, apparently, will have to be retested, but procedures are being put in place "to ensure that no candidate is disadvantaged" either. The board has no idea how many students completed the exam without letting on that they'd discovered the answers, partly because "only a handful" of schools called about the situation. As for the students, Hannah Poaros of Dartford may have put it as succinctly as any. "It's not our error; it's theirs," she told the BBC. "It really frustrates me."

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