A-Level students take to Reddit to voice concerns regarding Chemistry Paper 3; some to file irregularity reports

According to the students on a Reddit thread, there was an error with one of the diagrams in the question paper, whereby a bond between two elements was drawn incorrectly.

Amanda Tan

Published: 18 November 2022, 6:29 PM

Several junior college students across the nation have taken to online forum Reddit to express their discontent with the way the various schools handled an erratum during their A-Levels H2 Chemistry Paper 3 on Wednesday (Nov 16).

According to the Reddit users, there was an error with one of the diagrams in the question paper, whereby a bond between two elements was drawn incorrectly. 

In response to a query by The Straits Times, The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) shared that it “issued a note which clarified the structural representation of organic molecules in prose together with the question paper to every student at the start of the examination”.

However, the A-Level students on reddit have concluded that due to a lack of standardisation, the amendment was not carried out evenly across the colleges and students ended the supposed two-hour paper, which was meant to last from 8am to 10am, at different timings.

In a megathread started by Reddit user dingadingdongg, a breakdown of the situation across the schools was listed by user aervls.

Referencing aervls’ comment, students from Yishun Innova Junior College weren’t informed of the erratum beforehand, and were instead disrupted mid-paper to make the necessary corrections. 

While some from schools like Catholic Junior College received the correction slip, the diagram itself was not printed, resulting in some confusion among the students. They were also not given time to make the changes before the commencement of the paper, as mentioned by aervls. 

It is also said that other schools like Raffles Junior College and Anderson Serangoon Junior College weren’t allowed to make the corrections beforehand but were given two minutes extra, on top of the two hours, as compensation.

Victoria Junior College students were allegedly given 14 minutes to make the corrections mid-paper at 9.45am, according to user moonchildxx_, who is also a VJC student. Whether or not students could flip through the paper or remain at the same page, was also not standardised.

Users ofptnfz and SiteAccomplished6314 touched on this issue, saying that “even without writing, most of (the students) were flipping the papers to pre-read the other questions” and that “you can literally solve (structure) elucidation in your head in that 14 minutes”.

Although the question with the error was an optional question worth one mark and students could opt to do a separate question, for those who did so, they shared that the invigilators “started coming around and (putting) the diagrams in (their) faces even (though they) didn’t ask for it”.

The students added that the announcement to amend the diagram was made several times throughout the examination, making it difficult for them to concentrate.

User mayhapsoneday said: “…they recognise how important this exam is to us but still didn’t even bother to properly coordinate a mistake they made on THEIR part which would impact our future?”

Original poster dingadingdongg added that “they were clearly aware of the errata in advance” and questioned why the invigilators couldn’t have handled the situation better and instead interrupted people “in the middle of the paper”.

User Difficult_Ad_5815 said: “Other invigilators can take necessary action to ensure proper correction before the exam starts. Why can’t they? Such invigilators should not start the examination if they are not sure what needs to be corrected, unless they are (saying) that SEAB (gave) instructions midway through the exam; I doubt.”

Based on a comment by user Alternative-Bell8992, the Chief Presiding Examiner (CPE) apparently said that “(they couldn’t) help (them) understand the erratum on the pink paper” and instructed students to “just read and edit”, adding that “if (the students) studied for H2 Chemistry, (they) should know how to edit”.

One user, Pankat3s, agreed with this sentiment, saying that while the invigilators and CPEs “have their own liberty to draw the amended diagram, that shouldnt be the case since (students) should be able to understand it at the A-Levels”.

Regardless of these mixed opinions, the majority of students on Reddit are enraged, and some have stepped up to suggest concrete solutions.

Frustrated by the poor management of the situation, user SaltedCrap posted a FormSG link for students to submit irregularity reports to SEAB.

“I think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Hopefully SEAB can manage how they handle errata for future batches next time.”

Following the incident, SEAB has since stated that it will work with Cambridge University – which assesses the A-Levels – to ensure that students are fairly assessed following the incident, according to The Straits Times.

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