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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Second college in tests inquiry
exam room
The "exam season" is in full swing
By BBC News Online's Gary Eason

An investigation is going on at a second further education college into an apparent breach of security involving national tests.

One investigation was launched last Friday, centred on Carmarthenshire College in west Wales, after it emerged that a lecturer there had put trial papers for the tests - from last October - onto his personal website.

Now, North Nottinghamshire College in Worksop has conducted an inquiry after students there said they had seen the trial papers before taking their exam.

The college has said it is happy that the proper exam procedures had been followed.

The regulatory body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), said it had begun an investigation into the "associated situation" in Nottinghamshire.

'Same questions'

Students Mark McKenna and Andrew Garton, both 17, are in their first year of a computer studies course at the Nottinghamshire college.

On Monday of last week they did a search on the web for sample papers to practice on and tried out some questions on the Carmarthenshire College lecturer's site.

They then did their exam the following morning.

"I didn't believe it when I found out it was the actual test that we had been looking at," Andrew said.

"They were the same questions, just in a different order," Mark said.

'Shocked'

"I reckon we did two or three of the questions on there - obviously not knowing at all they were the real questions.

"We were a bit shocked at first. We were annoyed - because you don't cheat deliberately, but if we had known it certainly would have helped.

"We wouldn't have cheated in the exam. We didn't cheat in the end - we didn't realise that we had. But we could have and so could anyone else that looked at it."

The students said they showed a supervisor what they had found.

Their college has investigated and says the member of staff concerned had assumed that they were looking at official sample papers on the website of the exam board the college uses, Edexcel.

The college was satisfied that all its exams had been conducted to the necessary standard.

The QCA is not confirming which exams are involved.

It has said it is confident that only a small number of people visited the website and that a potentially serious problem was "contained" when the site's contents were removed last Friday.

A review of the procedures used to design the tests is going on, involving the various qualifications authorities, exam boards and others.

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See also:

21 May 01 | Education
Review of test papers security
22 Mar 01 | Education
Students given wrong test results
18 Aug 00 | Scotland
SQA puts figure on exam mistakes
12 Aug 00 | Scotland
Minister confirms exam mistakes
30 Aug 00 | Scotland
Exam results sent to wrong schools
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