Alarm over 'outrageous' NCEA exam gaffe

By Ben Irwin

Ich verstehe? There's concern over this year's NCEA German exam, which was printed without the expected English translation of the questions. Photo / Getty Images
Ich verstehe? There's concern over this year's NCEA German exam, which was printed without the expected English translation of the questions. Photo / Getty Images

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An "outrageous" mistake with yesterday's NCEA Level 1 German exam has alarmed the Qualifications Authority and sparked an inquiry.

The entire exam paper - apart from the instructions - was printed in German, even though the specifications given to the 450 students and their teachers months ago said the questions would be in English too.

Level 1 students had to learn about 1000 German words throughout their course. But due to the lack of English-language questions, they were left to decipher some German words they had never been taught and were not expected to know.

Mt Albert Grammar German teacher Warwick Gibbs, who has taught the subject for 41 years, said the mistake was "quite outrageous".

"It means that the question hasn't even been checked by someone who's competent to act as a moderator," said Mr Gibbs.

He said the blunder would "absolutely" impact on his students' grades.

Mt Albert Grammar student Zinzan Zhao, whom Mr Gibbs described as one of his top students, said he was stunned when he opened the exam paper.

"If you didn't understand something in the question then you couldn't really answer it," Zinzan said.

NZQA deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said the authority was investigating how the mistake occurred.

"That shouldn't happen and it's something we are taking very seriously."

Mr Thornton said a team had started investigating the error yesterday after four people, including some teachers, contacted the authority.

He said the marking process would make sure that no student was disadvantaged by the mistake.

- NZ Herald

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