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article imageFrench students just couldn't 'cope' with this English exam

By James Walker     Jun 24, 2015 in World
French students taking a baccalaureate English exam have petitioned online after they were stumped by a question that centred around the word "coping" which many did not know. It follows the Edexcel Maths fiasco in the UK earlier this month.
Over 12,000 students have now signed a petition that calls on France's Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem to either remove the question from the mark scheme or to give bonus points to those who correctly answered it. The BBC reports it was organised by a 17-year-old student who argues that "only someone bilingual" would have understood the question.
The students were sitting an exam on Ian McEwan's novel Atonement. They were asked how the character Robbie Turner is "coping with the situation" of having been falsely accused of rape. It seems as though the English word "coping" has stumped most of the entrants, however.
Thousands complained on Twitter using the hashtag #BacAnglais, complaining that coping "was not a very common word" and that only those with "excellent" skills in English would have correctly interpreted the question. It seemed reminiscent of scenes in the UK earlier this month when students sitting a GCSE maths exam got #EdexcelMaths trending on Twitter after a particularly fiendish probability question stumped 16-year-olds. The petition that accompanied that campaign ultimately gained over 40,000 signatures.
The Guardian notes that French students also complained about their native language paper earlier this year when many became confused by a reference to "the tiger" in the play Tigre Bleu de l'Euphrate, believing it was an animal when it is actually a river. The paper notes that complaining about the baccalaureate English exam, taken at the end of the school year, has become effectively normal in France to the extent that it tires other students.
Eighteen-year-old Hugo Travers tweeted "No, just, no" in response to the petition, expressing his derision of how "In 2015 you find the question a little difficult, you launch a petition full of mistakes." Another told fellow students: "You should be ashamed of yourself. If you don't know what 'coping with' means that's your problem. Go revise your pathetic English instead of whining like old goats."
More about France, French, English, Exam, England
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