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Official exam advice incorrect and misleading exam

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    I sat an exam a couple of days ago, quite an important one that counts around 15% of my overall classification.

    The only written information and advice provided was on a specimen paper. This stated that as topic A and topic B had not been tested in continuous assessment there would definitely be several questions in the exam. This was in bold and italics.

    Guess what? Out of 7 questions topic A did not come up and there was only one topic B question (as opposed to 2 every year before). This is despite the fact the information provided stressed there would be several / plural questions.

    I did OK in the exam, but as you can imagine am less than happy given the amount of time put in revising said topics.

    I'm going through the official university complaints procedure but am wondering if I get no satisfaction there what the next step is. I.e. legal / ombudsman / governing bodies.
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    Does your university have a 'Rights and Advice' service/centre? These usually cover all sorts of student issues from accommodation (private and uni halls) to course complaints where they have independent and impartial lawyers who help you build up a case (not necessarily for the courts) and point you in the right direction as to who to complain to and steps of escalating your complaint should one avenue not work etc.
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    Unless the exam advice said the it would be exclusively on topics A and B, they are allowed to ask questions beyond topics A and B. They could argue that the specimen paper was to illustrate the type of questions that they could ask on topic A and B and stressed that topic A and B had not previously been examined.

    You need to put this into perspective, this was worth 15% (albeit an important 15%), how much time and effort are you prepare to expend on this to the detriment of your remaining studies. By all means lodge a written complaint via your course rep in the first instance. But also check with other students who took the same exam and attended lectures. It is not unheard of for a lecturer to verbalise a caveat saying you may have questions from any part of the syllabus. I have been caught out by this in the past, when I express my suprise at the exam content not being as per previous years, my fellow students reminded me of something the lecturer said in passing regarding the exam, the importance of which I missed at the time.
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    (Original post by edjunkie)
    Unless the exam advice said the it would be exclusively on topics A and B, they are allowed to ask questions beyond topics A and B. They could argue that the specimen paper was to illustrate the type of questions that they could ask on topic A and B and stressed that topic A and B had not previously been examined.
    No caveats, no nothing. The only advice and information on the exam said the 2 topics would definitely come up. One of them didn't.

    I'm applying for graduate entry dentistry so putting it into perspective makes it worse!
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    Are the remain 85% of the marks for this module still available for you to earn or was this final tranche of marks to be examined?

    If the remaining 85% are still available concentrate on that, treat exam advice as indicative not definitive in future and revise all relevant areas to a level you are happy with. If the remaining 85% are not available, then check with your fellow students, the more of you that feel misinformed the better your case will be. The university has the option to moderate the exam marks with the exam advice as a factor at the exam board. If the exam marks fit the expected pass/fail distribution curve for the course it is less likely that anything will change significantly. My experience is that the cohort that suffers from an exam or course issue will at best get an acknowledgement, but any meaningful changes will be to the benefit of future not current students.

    Lodge your concerns officially, if you still feel agrieved after you get your result back then look in to taking it further. If no other students had the same issue as you or the exam achievement is at the level you required, then try and let it go and move on.

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Updated: October 24, 2011
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