Can you pass the Higher Maths exam the SQA admitted was ‘challenging’?

A report for the SQA acknowledges how one particular question proved to be difficult for most candidates

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Friday 09 October 2015 15:20

It’s official: that crocodile and zebra duo are to blame for possibly the hardest maths exam in the UK this year.

Bestowed upon the S4 pupils of Scotland, courtesy of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in May, devastated students were quick to take to Twitter after the paper to lament what could have been, had the new format not come into play.

What, then, made a stressful situation more difficult? On the day almost 150,000 pupils were slowly tearing open that brown envelope to reveal their results, the exam board admitted on its website the new assessment ‘proved to be more demanding than intended’ and that the grade boundaries were reduced from 45 per cent for a C-grade to 34 per cent.

The news, however, came too late and provided little comfort as it emerged the average pass rate for the first of two papers was just 24.8 out of a possible 60. The second paper didn’t fare much better with an average score of just 32.1 out of 70.

Now, though, the SQA has held up its hands and admitted the crocodile and zebra problem was one question which had, indeed, ‘proved to be challenging for most candidates’ and that the paper was difficult overall.

Hopefully, though, the SQA will learn its lesson after the former principal assessor who was responsible for setting the maths exam until 2012, Jim Reid, today told BBC Scotland alarm bells should have been ringing throughout the exam board ‘far, far in advance’, adding that a lack of experience and a short time scale could have contributed to the paper’s difficulty.

All that aside, though, let’s see if you can fare better with the questions the students were presented with this year, crocodile and zebra and all:

Struggling? Heres the solution to the crocodile and zebra conundrum:

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