Students’ answers are getting a touch more colourful in their exams these days, increasingly using ‘obscene’ and ‘offensive’ language.
The exams watchdog has noted a growing number of GCSE and A-Level students writing inappropriate and offensive remarks on their exam papers – usually aimed at exam board staff – and clearly not bothered about passing.
Instead of answering questions, candidates have been caught writing obscenities – including racist remarks, comments about the examiners and lewd drawings – on their answer sheets.
The number of students doing so has more than doubled since 2007, from 193 to 422 in this summer’s exams.
The figures have been revealed as part of a malpractice report published by the exams watchdog Ofqual. It shows the number of students being offensive in exams has slowly increased year on year, jumping from 349 in 2009 to 372 last year.
Most penalties for including obscene material on the exam paper were issued by the examining board OCR, while CCEA reported no incidents in the past five years.
Offences ranged from using mildly inappropriate language to making more offensive remarks and derogatory references to exam board staff.
Students caught writing inappropriate comments in exams risk being denied the qualification as well as disciplinary measures within their own school.
Cheating figures were also revealed, showing that overall, teenagers were caught cheating more than 3600 times this summer, down 11 per cent on last year’s figures.
But the most common offence among GCSE and A-Level students was smuggling banned items, such as mobile phones, calculators and study aids, into the exam hall. Students will try anything these days.
Plagiarism was the next most common form of exam malpractice, the report found.
In half of the 3678 cases recorded by Ofqual, pupils lost marks for their behaviour, and nearly a fifth of students lost the chance to gain a qualification.
However, teachers are not off the hook. The data showed that malpractice among teachers or invigilators reached a four-year high this summer, with 87 teachers penalised for helping pupils in exams.
Eight teachers were banned from involvement in examinations or assessments.
In total, 54 exam centres were also penalised for assisting candidates or breaching security measures during exams.