Hampshire & Isle of Wight

'Off-topic' exam sparks protest by Basingstoke students

Students Alexandra Elkins (left) and Annabel Smith (right) from Queen Mary's College
Image caption Students Alexandra Elkins (left) and Annabel Smith (right) from Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke, say they have "lost faith" in their A level exams.

Biology students have challenged their A Level exam after claiming none of the questions were on topics they had studied.

Alexandra Elkins and Annabel Smith, who are studying at Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke, now want to re-sit the exam with a new series of questions.

More than 4,000 people from across the country have signed a protest petition.

The Pearson group which provides the Edexcel exams said its papers "accurately reflect the curriculum".

Image caption Annabel Smith described the situation as "awful"
Image caption Alexandra Elkins thought the paper she was handed was a mistake

Alexandra Elkins said: "I turned over the first paper and I looked at what was written and I thought, 'this can't be right, this isn't the right paper'."

Annabel Smith said: "I flicked through the rest of the paper after reading the first question thinking, 'okay maybe this is just one question and the rest of it will get onto the stuff that we know'," she said.

However, she added all the questions were "off-topic".

They say the paper was a repeat of a previous paper for AS Level students two years ago, covering topics which they were not taught.

Those who have signed the online petition have also labelled the paper as "ridiculous" and "unacceptable".

Image caption Queen Mary's College said it had contacted both the exams board and the exams standard body Ofqual to raise concerns.

The 17-year-olds were predicted top grade A-Levels in biology in order to secure a place at university, and reach goals of becoming a dentist and a vet.

A Pearson spokesman said: "Our exam papers accurately reflect the curriculum that schools, teachers and learners have been working towards.

"In the case of the unit 4 Biology paper the specification is clear that some content may draw on AS material."

Queen Mary's College said it had contacted both the exams board and the exams standard body Ofqual to raise concerns.

Image caption Students Alexandra Elkins and Annabel Smith still have a second biology paper to sit

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