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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
A-level students feel cheated
exam hall
Thousands of pupils sat the leaked paper
Students who sat an A-level exam paper which was leaked have reacted angrily to the decision to let the test go ahead.

About 20,000 students are believed to have sat the A-level in pure maths.

As most were doing their last-minute revision, it was revealed that copies of the paper had changed hands for 400 a time in west London.

But the examining board involved - Edexcel - said it would not pull the exam because of the problems this would cause to other candidates.

As level student
"It's amazing. I don't know how they got the paper"
It also says it will check results against predicted grades to try to find the cheats, who will then be failed.

Many students are angry about the decision to go ahead, including Tom Leonard, from St. Albans who sat the exam.

He told BBC News Online: "I think it was stupid of the exam board to go ahead with the exam this morning. A-level exams don't finish until 29 June, which gives Edexcel plenty of time to distribute a new paper to be sat before then.

"I also feel infuriated that some students think they have to right to do this, and to say any student who gets a suspiciously high mark will automatically fail is ridiculous.

"I hardly think they are stupid enough to give themselves 95% when they are predicted an E. It is more likely that their grades will increase slightly, causing the grade boundaries to alter, making it worse for everybody else."

At Holland Park School in west London, pupils who sat the exam were told about the paper scam afterwards.

AS level student
"It's not fair"
No pupils there were involved in cheating.

Many of those who took the exam were angry. One student said: "It's not fair. We've been working really hard and they are just cheating."

Another said: "It's amazing. I don't know how on earth they got it and I don't know if it was worth it."

Another was worried that the finger of suspicion could fall on students who had genuinely got good results.

The father of one teenager who sat the exam in London said his son was fed up to hear about the cheating.

He told BBC News Online: "He heard about it last night and was pretty annoyed.

"It must be very demoralising when you sit an exam in these circumstances."

Online comments

Most students who contacted BBC News Online have said they are appalled by the leak and believe the paper should have been replaced.

Owain Cole, wrote: "I am very surprised that the examination authorities do not have back-up papers to use in such emergencies as this; especially easy in the case of a Maths exam, where a simple change of the numbers could throw would-be cheats.

Vincent Hammersley said: "I cannot believe that there was not a second paper which could have been issued.

AS level student
"Good students could suffer"
And a teacher with responsibility for exams wrote: "As exams officer in a large comprehensive I am appalled that such an occurrence should happen. I cannot imagine how this paper got into the public domain in advance of the examination.

Other people pointed to the problems the examining board will have in catching the cheats.

One said: "As long as the student shows how the problem was worked out, how are the exam authorities going to know that the student has cheated?

"They should use a substitute exam paper if they suspect foul play. Looks like a case of profits come before standards."

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See also:

12 Jun 01 | Education
A-level reforms to be reviewed
25 May 01 | Education
Tests changed after security breach
15 May 01 | Education
Exam papers dumped in a skip
22 Mar 01 | Education
Students given wrong test results
30 Aug 00 | Scotland
Senior exam officials leave jobs
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