Sophie's Diary: Lessons need to be learned from latest SQA exam row

For the three years I've written this column, I've sat in excess of around 40 SQA exams and I've managed to near enough cope with whatever the exam board threw at me.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 24th May 2016, 2:00 pm
Sophie Wallace

I’ve been lucky to have a break this year from sitting at a single desk with a pen and a couple of blank sheets of paper in front of me.

However, for many of my friends who are still at school, this scenario is all too familiar right now.

That being said, it comes as no surprise this year’s final exams have not fallen short of the usual controversy that surrounds the SQA papers.

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Last year’s higher maths exam was a disaster, as 16 and 17 year olds across the country were up in arms over an “impossible question” in paper two.

The SQA agreed to lower the pass mark to just below 40 per cent for a pass, agreeing it was too difficult.

However, it appears history is repeating itself: this year’s non-calculator paper has sparked outrage and an online petition has already attracted thousands of signatures demanding the pass mark be lowered.

Is the SQA simply being over ambitious when setting its questions, trying to push pupils beyond their limits?

Or are youngsters spitting the dummy because they’ve come across something they cannot answer?

Granted, the paper was a difficult one – if anything, it was a higher standard paper.

However, I disagree with pupils argument of “we were never taught this in class”.

Looking back at my own exam experience, everything that was asked of us we had looked over before.

The SQA does itself no favours, mind you.

So I think two lessons can be taken from this year’s exam – pupils need to recognise exams are hard and the SQA needs to realise this does not qualify them to generate impossible papers.