KARACHI: While confirming the paper leak, the Cambridge International Education (CIE) has decided to give “assessed marks” to students in AS Level Mathematics exam after almost three months.

Students are to get marks based on their performance in other mathematics exams and if they are not happy with the decision, they can avail the option of retaking the exam in November.

It was almost three months ago, when CIE had received allegations of a potential paper leak for the AS Level Mathematics exam (9709, paper 12) on May 2.

It was claimed by various sources on social media that the said paper had appeared online even before the students could sit for the exam. Many students were upset as they had studied hard for the exam. CIE had then said that they would look into the matter by starting an inquiry.

Cambridge International decides to give ‘assessed marks’ to students

“We have reviewed evidence from multiple sources and concluded that this specific paper was seen by a significant number of students in Pakistan before the start of the exam,” a CIE letter shared with schools said and added that for the particular paper, the CIE will give “assessed marks in order to ensure students are treated equally and fairly”.

However, the decision taken by the CIE has added to the students’ worries.

One student said that he did poorly in his other papers and was wondering if he would not get into a university with this result. “Will I be given admission while being allowed to resit for the paper in Oct/Nov?” The student wondered.

“I was cooked before, now I am burnt and reduced to ashes,” said another student in a Facebook group.

Another confused student wanted to know that if he retook the exam in Oct/Nov, which grade is he going to carry forward? The May/June one or the Oct/Nov one?

One student was still in denial and was asking if this was a prank.

Then one student asked if the retake exam will be free? When she learned that it was if she registered between Aug 7 and Sept 5, she felt relieved. But most students did not feel that way.

“Our priority is to make sure we are fair to the majority of students who did not cheat. That means making sure those who cheated receive no advantage, so that students applying to university compete on an equal basis,” the CIE explained in the letter.

“Using assessed marks means we will disregard the marks from this paper and calculate a mark for each student based on their performance in the other AS and A-Level mathematics 9709 papers they took. Our assessed marks process allows us to treat all students equally because it takes into account the fact that one paper might be slightly easier than another ...

“AS Level candidates generally achieve better grades on Pure Mathematics 1 papers than on Statistics 1 papers. Some may feel it is unfair to base their Pure Mathematics (Paper 12) mark on their Statistics (Paper 52) mark. These generally better grades in Pure Mathematics 1 than in Statistics 1 are because of the way we grade the papers. Our calculated assessment methodology takes account of this, so that candidates are not disadvantaged. When you receive the June 2024 Component Grade Report for your school that, as usual, AS Level candidates tend to get better results on Paper 12 than on Paper 52,” the letter explained.

“We appreciate that students are having to deal with this situation at an important point in their education. Students with an assessed mark who wish to resit the same option in November may do so without charge and can choose which result they take forward. We will provide more details about free resits shortly after results are released,” the letter read further.

CIE also said in their letter that they sympathise with them as they can understand their frustration. “Many students will feel that some of their peers attempted to gain unfair advantage by cheating. Using ‘assessed marks’ removes any possible unfair advantage those students tried to gain.

“This sort of incident is an extremely rare occurrence. We have sophisticated security measures, and time-zone variant papers to prevent leaking from one part of the world to another.

“We continue to improve security of exams in Pakistan and worldwide so we can make sure all students are treated equally. We are very grateful for your patience to this point, and for your support as we help students to understand the measures we are taking,” the letter concluded.

*Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2024*