Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 13:09 UK

How music made exam stress grow

By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

Alex, GCSE music student
Alex and his friends had done a lot of preparation
Alex Dixon is one of the 12,000 students in England who sat a GCSE music paper found to have some of the answers on the back.

The OCR exam board (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations) paper involved pupils listening to pieces of music and then identifying composers and styles of music.

Alex, from Hereford, told BBC News: "My friends and I had worked hard for the music exams, doing a lot of preparation. My walls are plastered with revision notes.

"In a recording studio at school, we even recorded ourselves reading out a revision guide so we could play it to ourselves," he said.

Alex, 16, said he had realised in the middle of the exam that the answers were on the back page.

"I was halfway through and having finished a question, I flicked through to the end to see what was coming. I couldn't believe it," he said.

"There was an acknowledgement for every piece of music, giving the composers' names. One gave the type of music too, a pavane, which was one of the questions."

Alex said he had known the answers already, but there had been one question for which he had not been 100% sure.

"I did not want to change the answer as I thought that if I had the same answer as at the back of the paper they might not accept it. But because of nerves, you get indecisive."

He said he had changed that one answer and now he and his friends were uncertain about what action the exam board might take over its own mistake.

"About half of my friends noticed and half didn't. But now everyone is stressed because of the uncertainty."

It is unlikely that any of the 12,000 students sitting the examination would have recognised the value of the information in the copyright statement and subsequently used it
OCR exam board

The exam board says source material is generally acknowledged on the back of exam papers, but that in this instance a "printing error" resulted in more information being put on the paper than is normal in a music exam.

Alex said his mock papers had not had any such material at the back. He alerted his teacher to the error after the exam.

"It was a silly mistake. They should proof-read the papers beforehand," he said.

"If it is only worth 5% of the paper it's not worth re-taking. We are all in the middle of other exams.

"We should just be marked depending on what we put - but many people would have got the right answer anyway."

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