A Galway Leaving Cert student was left ‘bewildered’ while sitting the Irish language version of Higher Level maths paper 2 this week due to a mistake in a question.
Question 8 (b) in the paper used both an Irish-language and English-language version of a mathematical formula, meaning the question made no sense.
Niall Mac Uidhilin’s daughter was left confused by the question, and thought that the problem as her own lack of understanding.
“She said that there was something in the question that made no sense to her. She had to give up on it, but she thought it was her own fault that she couldn’t understand it,” he said.
“She had already done two pages of work on the question, so she had wasted a certain amount of time, and then she had to go and find another question to answer instead … She thought there was something she hadn’t seen or understood, that she was the problem.”
Niall went searching for any media coverage of the error, and when he found none, he contacted RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.
“It’s important to highlight it, who knows, there must be other students who have been affected who don’t know that it was an error in the translation, and that they were not to blame,” he said on Iris Aniar on RTÉ RnaG on Thursday.
Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway, said that not many people had come to him about the error, but when himself and the maths teachers went to check, that it was clear that there was indeed a mistake in the paper.
“It was clear there was a mistake between the English and Irish versions. Most students probably didn’t understand that it was a mistake,” he said.
“There are likely lots of students who did the exam who don’t know. You would have to compare the English and Irish versions of the papers to understand the question.”
Eoghan said that the school had been in touch with the State Examinations Commission about the matter.
“We were in touch with them yesterday. They are usually good in cases like this, they know that things like this happen. They’ll have to discuss the implications of this mistake now for the marking system.
“There’s no fixing it now, the error happened, and it might have brought additional stress for pupils. The main thing for me now is that there is equality for all students, and the SEC now has to look at that and come up with a marking scheme that makes sure it’s fair for all the students who sat the paper through Irish.”