Students have criticized the university administration responsible for the theology preliminary examinations caused by a mix-up with the Church history paper.
Cherwell can confirm that a theology paper entitled ‘Church History’ had already been seen by some candidates in their collections at the beginning of the term.
A University spokesman explained how the mix-up came about. “A re-sit paper was prepared [in Trinity last year] for a single candidate but the candidate withdrew so the paper wasn’t used. However it was been published online with the rest of the this year’s papers.”
Pembroke student Andris Rudzitis recounted his experience, stating “The Church history paper was almost identical to Trinity term 2011. The questions were almost verbatim to last years Trinity exam. Some people at other colleges had already seen that paper and answered three of the nine optional questions on the paper, so they had a massive advantage.”
When asked about the cause of the mix up a University spokesperson said “The person who set the exam did not realise that last year’s paper had been published online and had been seen in collections”
However, the University press office emphasized the University’s commitment to ensuring examinations were conducted fairly. “The University wants to ensure that the examination system is fair and does not disadvantage any group. Any concerns are raised with the Proctors, who are the University officers responsible for overseeing the conduct of examinations.”
To counterract potential discrepancies in results, the University discounted the paper entirely. “The Church History paper was set aside by the Proctors who authorised that the Prelims could be marked on the basis of the remaining two papers.”
“The candidates were also given the option to sit another Church History paper, but the latter option was declined by all the candidates concerned.”
A spokesman for the University said “We want to apologise for any distress caused by this mistake, but the action we took ensured that, overall, the examination was fair.”
Despite being given the resit the paper, one student complained that because the marks for the Greek exam were not calibrated to come in line with other essay-based papers, the average overall mark could be significantly boosted for single-honour Theologians. “This resulted in a high amount of distinctions for straight theologians, and thus was a disadvantage to those doing joint honours which doesn’t include Greek.”
Rudzitis referred Cherwell to examination results from previous years pointing out that the Church History paper usually has a higher average score than the other papers which may have resulted in the average score for single honour Theology students markedly lower this year.