On Friday 5th of May, 2017 the English as a second language (CIE 0510) Listening exam was conducted. Prior to the exam, The IG Club had released an exclusive piece of news covering the use of new technology, wireless headsets, by a school. After the exam, a flood of complaints about the listening exam concerning its difficulty (speed, accents and test content) and technical issues that the candidates faced.
Concerning the piece of news released, we would like to make a correction, it was not the first time in Egypt to use such technology, however it was the first time to use the technology for a group of students larger than 40. The technology has also been used in independent schools.
Of course, such news would mean that this was unfair practice, giving students at that particular school an unfair advantage. Which resulted in a huge wave of anger from students towards schools, examinations administrations and us. We would like to apologise for the misrepresentation of information and explain in details why this was not an act of unfair practice.
Let us begin by stating that we have read the Cambridge handbook (Regulations and guidance for administering Cambridge exams), where there is a section (5.7.3) for Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level and Cambridge International AS & A Level listening exams. This section clearly allows schools or the examinations venues to use any kind of technology which includes normal speakers, surround sound system or headphones connected using wires or wireless technology. If a school or venue prefers to use a certain technology, it should make its request with the examinations administration which, in Egypt, is the British Council.
After conducting our own investigations, we, The IG Club, had found that the British Council had arranged with schools and instructed venues to follow certain regulations in order to provide the best environment for candidates during their exams. You can find the details of these regulations and agreements in the following quote:
“Please note that all listening exams will be held at the British Council’s agreed examination venues that was previously communicated.
We, also, would like to assure you that we considered the valuable and constructive feedback received from you regarding the listening exam experience of the previous sessions, and that we wish to accommodate the best listening exam’s session for all our candidates sitting the English as a second Language, French, or German. In anticipation, we will provide all open venues with echo absorbent to avoid the echo which was the main complaint of previous sessions. We would like to request the closed venues to provide carpet flooring for the classrooms as echo absorbent.
We kindly request from all schools to provide us with the below in order for us to ensure the best listening experience:
• Compatible CD player with good quality speakers and that you have tested the sound of the CD player on a trial demo with the highest volume to experience the echo. We urge you to choose a well-known brand, If you feel that your CD player is rather old or not compatible, please buy a new one for the sake of your candidates. Schools are requested to provide 1 CD player for every 12 candidates, and to deliver them to the school’s examination venue if they are having their exams at Open venues. Kindly deliver the CD players by 2nd of May.
• If the school is holding the listening exams in their own closed venue, then prepare CD players in your venue, we also, kindly request from all closed venues which hold French Listening exam on the 2nd of May to make sure that they provide the above and hand it to the Venue Supervisor.”
and finally British Council has released a statement to schools after the exam stating that
“As it is permissible by the exam board the British Council could not reject the schools proposal, and considered this another potential pilot for the use of such resources. We were planning to issue a document with the lessons learned of using headphones and share with other schools that might consider this in future. The school collaborated in order to agree on the process. The British Council is committed to support any proposal as long as it is in line with the awarding body’s regulations.
In relation to other concerns about the test content, including accents or speed, we have shared these with Cambridge.”
We hope we covered the points of your concern, and we apologise for any previous inconvenience and we hope that we have delivered the message clearly.
If you would like to contact us, please feel free through firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01210837777 ( select suggestions&complaints extension in the IVR)
Photo source: Pearson Website