Students of PHYS20050 Cell-Cell Communication did not receive their grades for the module from last semester but were instead informed that they would have to resit the exam. The exam was described as having been “compromised.” It has emerged that images of an exam incredibly similar to this one had been circulated among many students before the exam.
On Monday 22nd January, students enrolled in the module received an email, stating that the exam had been “compromised and thus rendered invalid.” The email also informed students that they would have to sit “a new examination of the same format” this semester. The date and time of the new exam was discussed between the class representatives and the school’s faculty during a meeting, which took place later that week. Consequently, the students did not receive a grade for the module along with the rest of their grades on Wednesday 24th.
The results for the exam showed a suspiciously high number of As and Bs. “The usual bell-curve that you get with grades didn’t happen. It was skewed to the right, so there were more A and B grades than would usually be the case,” Alex Conway* told the University Observer. Several students also claimed that 230 students of the approximate 300 enrolled in the module received an A grade.
The exam was worth 100% and featured no negative marking. It was a 50 question multiple choice questionnaire (MCQ).
Speaking to the University Observer, Conway who sat the exam said, ”there was an old exam that a student produced…that was going around between us and we saw that paper before we’d gone in.”
Aoife Sheahey, a third year medicine student admitted, “this year, someone in the year below me asked my friend for the notes she had for Cell-Cell and since my friend knew I had the questions and answers from sitting the repeat she asked me for them. I gave them to her to pass on and I told her to encourage them to pass them to everyone in their year and they did.”
This is not the first occurrence of exam questions being leaked for this particular module. Multiple students who sat the exam last year and had to repeat, spoke about their experience.
Students who had failed the module previously arranged private meetings with Dr. Baugh, the module coordinator. Sheahey was one of those students and this meeting provided her with the images that were distributed throughout the second year class. Another student, Claire Mitchell* stated that during her meeting with Dr. Baugh “he showed me the MCQ which he had printed and asked did I have any questions etc. He told me to have a good look at the paper and hinted heavily that the repeat would be very similar to the original exam.” Dr. Baugh left the Mitchell alone with the exam, “He told me to take down some notes but not to copy the MCQs directly. I spent a good half an hour alone with the paper, which was plenty of time for me to take down notes on every MCQ that came up and their answers.” This description was echoed by Sheahey who added that “The final exam contained about 80-90% of these questions.”
The University Observer has seen copies of the images circulated before the exam.
When asked for comment by the University Observer, Dr. Baugh stated:
“I have never provided students with exam questions ahead of resit exams. I have allowed students to review, under supervision, the exam paper that they sat and failed so that they can identify topics they need assistance with. Students have never been allowed to copy questions or take exam papers from my office. Students taking this module are explicitly informed that the School does not release past MCQ papers.”
The resit exam for PHYS20050 Cell-Cell Communication is set for Week 5 of Semester 2.
*Names have been changed.