15 Mar 2017

NZQA's 'Impossible' Maths Question

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:13 pm on 15 March 2017
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Photo: AFP

NZQA has published a report, into an impossible-to-answer question in an NCEA maths exam.

The panel has found that the question was a late addition and was not checked independently. The report recommends changes to NCEA and Scholarship maths exams, including independent checks of late changes to exam papers, specific training for exam-writers on common errors, and formal recording of mistakes and their causes.

The most serious error investigated by the panel was in the level 3 statistics paper, which included a table with incorrect values that made the question impossible to answer.

More than 12,000 students were enrolled to sit the exam.

Margaret Priest, is head of maths at Wellington Girls' College and says it threw many students who struggled to work out why they couldn't answer the question.