Scottish examination body admits Higher Maths exam was too hard

4 August 2015

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has admitted that this summer’s Higher Maths exam was much harder than they anticipated. As a result, the pass mark for the new Higher Maths exam was significantly lower as concerns emerged it was too difficult.

After the exam in May, Scottish students took to social media in an attempt to find solace from the SQA, complaining the paper was much more difficult in comparison to the year before. Shortly after this, almost 12,000 parents and pupils signed an online petition asking the Scottish Government to intervene.

As a result, the exams body adjusted grade boundaries accordingly in an attempt to compensate for the difficult exam; with candidates needing to achieve 34% to gain a C grade, compared to a mark of 45% the year before. SQA announced that these changes were designed to fit in with broader changes to education in recent year, as well as to avoid any controversy.

A spokesman on behalf of the exam board told ITV News:

“We are aware of the concerns raised by young people and their parents in these petitions and want to assure them that the question papers for the current and new Higher maths exams on Wednesday were developed and quality assured, using the same design principles and assessment specifications as the relevant Higher Maths Specimen Question Paper, under the supervision of the same senior appointee.

All of these materials follow the relevant Higher maths course assessment specifications, which state the standard, structure and requirements of the assessments.As part of our post examination procedures, the pass mark and the cut-off score for each grade are determined after detailed consideration of quantitative and qualitative information.

In addition, the difficulty of the question paper compared to previous years’ papers is taken into account.Please be assured that no learner will be disadvantaged should it be deemed that the current and/or new Higher maths question papers were more demanding than intended.”

Find out more here.