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Articles > Student Life March, 13, 2017

What Happens When You Get Disqualified From An A level Exam

March, 13, 2017

Jake Haynes View Profile

“You’re a number, not a person!”

When you’re at school or college, this is what they might as well say to you. A number can be easily discarded. You can try your absolute hardest, but if you do even one thing wrong, they don’t seem to care.It’s not like that number represents a human being with their whole life depending upon passing their exams(!) It’s been nearly 2 years since I got disqualified from my law A level and As you can probably tell, I’m still bitter about it.

disqualifies from exam - notes on hand

Pic by Alex Carr

I can distinctly remember the nerves I suffered with for months on end. Revision, revision, revision… I’ve never worked so hard in my life. During mock exams, I got C’s and B’s which, for me, weren’t good enough. I wanted A’s.So when it came to exam season, I was bricking it. I felt like throwing up and running out of every paper. And my law exam was no different. It started like any other: I walked in, found my seat, waited for the clock to reach 9am and then started the exam… but it all ended up being for nothing.

Half way through the exam, a single yellow post-it note with only one piece of information fell out of my pocket. When I saw it on the floor I mentally kicked myself for forgetting to empty them. I had been completely unaware that it was still in there, but I couldn’t dwell on it – I had to get on with the exam. I was sure to make a point of the fact that I did not even glance down at it. But as soon as the invigilator saw it and picked it up, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

He took me to the exam office once the paper had finished, where they told me I would be reported to the AQA exam board. I tried to argue my case, but they weren’t having it. Instead, I got a letter through the post telling me that I had been disqualified. I couldn’t believe it! The punishment was so disproportionately unfair, and my Law teacher agreed. She was very adamant on getting them to lessen the punishment because she knew how hard I had worked, but it was to no avail.

“It affected my whole education, and the rest of my life as a result”

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The whole situation was made even more unbearable when my mate told me that he’d heard of a girl who had written notes on an entire subject all along her arm and received exactly the same punishment as me. For someone who intentionally cheated by writing a year’s worth of answers along her arm to get the same punishment as someone who accidentally kept a post-it note in his pocket is, to me, quite frankly despicable.

I’m not going to lie, I feel I bossed that exam. But what happened? I understand that I should have had some sort of punishment, maybe a few marks deducted, but no. Because I had one post-it note (which, in reality, couldn’t have given me more than 1 mark on the test) they disqualified me from the entire subject. To make matters worse, the information on the post it note wasn’t even on the exam! I didn’t and would never cheat, and I’d worked so hard all year, but they didn’t care.

It affected my whole education, and the rest of my life as a result. I had to do a BTEC in Public Services instead, all because of this. After studying Public Services, I’m now hoping to do a Psychology and Criminology course at uni, for which I have applied and received offers. But I’m still left with the knowledge that if they hadn’t given me a ridiculously harsh punishment, I would be studying Law at university right now.

I’m a whole year behind with my life, and it was completely unjustified. Thanks, AQA.


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  1. Colm Grimes
    March 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    This is a very good article

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