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article imageExam students vent their frustration at Edexcel GCSE maths paper

By James Walker     Jun 4, 2015 in Lifestyle
16-year-old school students have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration at a maths exam paper by British exam board Edexcel, taken today. The trend has led to thousands mocking the "impossible" questions by turning them on their heads with memes.
The non-calculator paper was sat across the UK at 9 a.m. The majority of the students found the first half easier than normal but the exam soured mid-way through when Hannah and her sweets appeared.
A probability question, "Hannah" had n sweets in a bag. Six of them were orange while the remaining ones were yellow. Students were told that Hannah took two and that the probability that they were both orange was one third before being asked to prove that n^2 - n - 90 = 0.
The response was almost universally negative on Twitter. #EdexcelMaths is now trending with over 140,000 tweets as many students have turned to mocking the questions in the paper, many using memes and images of political leaders such as the ex-Labour party leader Ed Miliband.
Other questions also received criticism. One asked students to calculate whether "Mary" could afford to buy new tiles for her conservatory. One Twitter user wrote "At least Mary had enough money to buy tiles for her conservatory, can't say the same about my future. #EdexcelMaths."
The Edexcel Wikipedia page has been amended to include a note on the controversy and the criticism is still spreading fast on Twitter. The exam board, a subsidiary of Pearson Education, has not yet commented on how its exam paper managed to so dramatically incite students that "#EdexcelMaths" has now been trending for hours.
Edexcel has previously found controversy in the past over allegations of laxed security regarding the availability of papers in the hours before exams. Investigations uncovered cases where private tutoring schools were found to be using papers for the next day in last-minute revision sessions the night before. This summer, the UK government also ordered the exam board to rewrite its maths papers for next year after an investigation found that they were too hard for students to complete.
Those who sat this year's exam have called for the grade boundaries to be lowered, saying that the test was unfair and the questions poorly worded. Some have suggested that "Karl," another character who students found to have donated £10 to charity in a problem, should donate his £10 to a petition to force Edexcel into lowering its grade boundaries.
As a GCSE maths student myself who sat the paper this morning, I can confirm that all of the mentioned questions existed. The final stages were tough but I didn't expect this kind of criticism to arise. And no, I was unable to prove Hannah's sweet problem for her. If you can, let me and the thousands of other students know in the comments below.
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