Petition over ‘unusually hard’ maths exam gathers nearly 25,000 signatures

Signatories say the paper ruined their ‘futures and dream careers’ and are calling for the pass mark to be lowered

A protest petition launched after Scottish pupils sat the N5 maths exam – the equivalent to GCSE – on Thursday has won the support of tens of thousands of signatories.

On the same day as the exam, a student launched a petition on claiming that Paper 1– the non-calculator paper – was “unusually hard” and had left pupils “very worried” about their results.

It said students were in “fear” of subsequent exams and facing the possibility of not getting on to their chosen university courses.

The petition calls for the pass mark to be reduced or for the results of continuous assessments throughout the year to be taken into account.

Some of the 24,748 signatories have said they were left in tears after the exam and accused exam body the Scottish Qualifications Authority of ruining their “futures and dream careers”.

A common complaint was that the exam bore little or no resemblance to past papers and exemplar papers.

The petition comes only a week after TES reported that 11-year-olds in England were leaving their Year 6 Sats reading test in tears because it was harder than expected.

One signatory, teacher John Sweeney from Glasgow, commented on the petition: “I am a teacher and know when something is wrong with an exam.”

‘My daughter was in tears’

Andile Ngwenya, from Glasgow, said: “Disgrace! Now many young people’s futures and dream careers will be ruined all because of SQA. Thank you for ruining mine…Well done!”

Natalie Docherty, from Rigside in South Lanarkshire, said: “Even my lecturer was annoyed at the level of difficulty. I gave it my all but when I came out I was so upset. My whole career goes on whether this exam is passed or not.”

Debi Ward, a parent from Glasgow, added: “My daughter was in tears! Even the teachers were shocked at how hard this paper was.”

The petition is the second to be launched on as a result of exams in Scotland this year.

More than 9,000 people signed a petition calling for “the additional stress and worry” caused by last-minute changes to the Higher English exam – equivalent to A level – to be taken into account when grade boundaries are set.

This year’s Higher English tests were replaced at short notice by the SQA amid concerns questions had been leaked.

Last year the SQA was forced to admit the new Higher maths exam was too difficult after similar online protests from students.

The SQA, however, insisted this year’s N5 maths exam was fair, and some students challenged their peers for saying the exam was too tough.

Thomas Lothian, from Edinburgh, said: “If the past papers were the same as the exam, it wouldn’t be an exam!”

Responding to the latest petition, an SQA spokesperson said: “We are confident the National 5 Maths exam provided candidates with a fair opportunity to show their understanding of the subject. It was designed in line with past and exemplar papers and according to our course and assessment specifications.

“We know the exams period can be a stressful time for young people and their families and are aware of the concerns which have been raised.”

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