How failure has become the F-word in exams

One GCSE candidate referred to drugs and made obscene comments on the marker

Growing numbers of exam candidates are writing obscenities or inappropriate comments on their exam papers instead of answering the questions.

Figures published for this year's GCSE and A-level exams show the numbers have more than doubled in the past five years – from 193 to 422.

Offences include racist or lewd remarks or drawings, which would warrant a student being refused the qualification. Other less serious offences leading to a loss of marks could include frequent mild obscenities throughout the paper – or one isolated case of a lewd obscenity aimed at an examiner or member of staff.

In one case, in a GCSE design and technology exam, a candidate made reference to drugs and obscene comments about the marker.

In addition, the number of centre staff – teachers or invigilators – disciplined for helping pupils has reached its highest level four years. In all, 87 faced sanctions – eight of whom were suspended from taking any further part in examinations or assessments.

The figures are contained in a report published yesterday by Ofqual, the exams watchdog, into malpractice in this year's exams. In all, there were 3,678 offences – 1,864 candidates were given a warning, 1,120 lost marks and 694 were refused their qualification.

The most common offence was still taking a mobile telephone into the exam room, which accounted for 1,251 cases. These included pupils who simply took a phone into the exam room, possibly by accident, and candidates who accessed texts or the internet to help with their answers. Penalties for the latter two offences were likely to be stiffer including the loss of certificates.

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, said: "Our message to candidates is simple: do not take your phones into the exam hall. Even if you accidentally leave it in a coat pocket, you could face penalties. It's not worth the risk."

The second most common offence was plagiarism, mainly involving copying from other candidates or colluding with them during the examination. In all, 638 students were penalised for this.

Overall, though, the number of candidates disciplined this year fell by 11 per cent compared with last year. One of the reasons for this is that fewer exams were sat – the total, at just over 15 million, was four per cent lower than the previous year.

On disciplining exam centre staff, 87 faced penalties this year compared with 79 in 2010.

The majority were issued as a result giving inappropriate assistance to candidates.Other reasons included entering the exam room to coach or prompt candidates and allowing pupils to carry on working after the time limit.

Exam offences: Charge sheets

* The most common form of malpractice was taking unauthorised material into an exam room (1,525 cases). The bulk of these involved mobile phones although there was one case of taking a sound stereo system into an exam room.

* The second most common kind of offence involved plagiarism (638 cases). This included collusion with other candidates, copying work or misuse of technology (i.e accessing the internet during the examination).

* Writing offensive or obscene. comments on the exam paper came third (422 cases).

* Disruptive behaviour in the exam room accounted for 384 complaints. This ranged from using offensive language to just talking.

* The fifth most common form of cheating was obtaining, receiving or attempting to pass on information related to the exam (198 cases).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum