Matric exams: Basic education dept probes 'impossible' Maths Paper 2 question

Government is probing an apparently impossible question in a maths exam.

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  • Pupils who wrote Maths Paper 2 on Monday complained that one of the questions was impossible to solve.
  • The Department of Basic Education is investigating that question.
  • Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that if an error is established, markers will be told to ignore the question.

The Department of Basic Education is investigating a maths question worth seven marks that matric candidates faced in their final exams on Monday.

This, after pupils complained that the Maths Paper 2 question was “impossible” to answer.

According to department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga, the suspected error was reported countrywide after pupils had written the paper.

Once a paper has been written, Mhlanga explained, there is an informal memo discussion comprising pupils and subject teachers to see how the former fared in the exam.

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It was during these discussions that pupils mentioned the difficulties they had with Question 5. The complaints, he said, came from all corners of South Africa.

However, Mhlanga assured pupils that there was no need to worry about it. “We will look into it. We have a panel that reviews every paper. If there is an error, the first step is to remove that mark so that no one is compromised.’

“If an error has been declared, we will tell markers to ignore Question 5 so that everyone is covered and there is fairness. “As the exam was out of 100, everyone will be marked on 93. The second step is to check what the impact of that was on the pupils.”

Explaining what he meant, he said some pupils complained that they wasted time looking for the answer. Others ended up frustrated and stressed. Mhlanga said officials would look at the overall performance of the pupils. If it is established that the question impacted their exam, the department will ask quality assurance council Umalusi for an upward adjustment of 1% or 2%.”That is how exams and assessments work around the world,” he added.

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