Jump to content

Exam chiefs ridiculed for allowing 'text speak' English answers


Recommended Posts

Exam chiefs ridiculed for allowing 'text speak' English answers


Last updated at 11:16am on 1st November 2006

womentextREX010606_228x200.jpgStudents would be given marks if expressing a 'valid idea' in text speak




Exam chiefs were branded "ridiculous" today after admitting that English answers written in text message language will be acceptable as long as they are correct.


The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said the use of phrases like "2b r nt 2b" or "i luv u" in exam papers would be allowed as long as candidates showed they understood the subject.

But politicians today condemned the practice amid fears about the literacy levels of school leavers.

The admission comes in the wake of a report into Standard Grade English which revealed that examiners are becoming increasingly concerned over writing standards.

Assessors said there was evidence this year that candidates' quality of content was not supported by an "equivalent competence in the handling of the basics of written expression".

The SQA said today that although text answers were considered "inappropriate" and would not be eligible for top marks, they would still be given credit if expressing a valid idea.

A spokesman for the board said: "We give credit for the idea a candidate is expressing. But you would get more marks for that idea in perfect English than you would if you used text language.

"It would be much too harsh not to give credit for knowledge and attainment that is expressed in bad language."

The SQA said the guidelines applied to both Standard Grade and Higher exams, adding that the use of text language was present in a "very small" percentage of papers.

"We want to make it clear that text message language is not considered appropriate," the SQA said.

Three years ago the exam board warned that the use of text language in exams was spreading in Scotland's schools, and that it posed a barrier to attainment for pupils.

The Plain English Campaign said allowing the use of text jargon could limit candidates' ability to express themselves in standard English.

Ben Beer, of the pressure group, said there was also a danger of candidates' "street slang" not being understood by examiners. He said: "It's fine to use a kind of slang among friends.

"And if you are in a situation where both the writer and the examiner are understanding that same language, that's OK.

"But in this situation with exams it's probably not the case."

Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives and the party's enterprise spokesman, branded the permission of text language as "ridiculous".

"No wonder employers are complaining about the lack of skills in school leavers, when students are allowed to pass their exams using text language. It's ridiculous," he said.

"You wonder what future there is for grammar and high standards of English usage when this kind of thing is allowed to go on."

Mr Fraser said an English exam was meant to test a candidate's ability to communicate in standard English.

But a spokesman for Scotland's largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said: "The use of text message language in exams is clearly inappropriate, and this is reflected in current SQA marking policy and in the advice given to schools and pupils.

"While candidates may not technically lose marks over the content of their answers in text language, they will effectively make themselves ineligible for the additional marks which can be awarded for the clarity of their answer."

Example of text speak

(Hamlet, Act Three, Scene One)

"2 b, r nt 2 b dat iz d Q wthr ts noblr n d mnd 2 sufr d slngs & arowz of outrAjs fortn r 2 tAk armz agnst a C f trblz, & by oposn nd em?"

"To be, or not to be: that is the question: / Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...