The French education ministry has failed its most important examination of the year, the baccalauréat. Legal challenges were flying and petitions circulating yesterday after a question in a maths exam paper appeared on the internet the day before 165,000 students took the test on Tuesday.
Rumours were also circulating yesterday of similar "cheating by internet" in physics and English exams. And an economics paper was junked at the last minute after it was handed out by mistake at a history exam in Lyon.
The cock-ups have set difficult examinations for the education minister, Luc Chatel. First, what should be done with the 165,000 completed maths papers in the baccalauréat, the equivalent of A-levels? Teachers found out only later that a photocopy of the first question, on "probability statistics", had been posted on the internet the previous night by a "wrecker of the Bac" called Chaldéen. Teaching unions called for the maths exam to be declared void. Pupils have petitioned for the four points the question was worth out of 20 to be awarded to all.
Mr Chatel ordered an investigation and ordered the exam to be marked, out of 20, on the remaining three questions and recommended the "pass" level should be reduced from 10 to nine. One parent has launched a legal challenge.
Then examiners found that one of the other three questions which asked students to decide which answer, out of four, was correct had two possible correct answers.
Question on "statistical probability" to M. Chatel: what is the chance of two cock-ups in the same examination?