23 June 2015 - French students unable to 'cope' with English exam question
French teens unable to 'cope with' baccalaureate English question
Kim Willsher (The Guardian)
Thousands of disgruntled French teenagers have signed a petition claiming that a question about Ian McEwan’s Atonement in their baccalaureate English paper was “impossible” and calling on the education minister to instruct examiners not to count the marks, or lack thereof.
Pupils were instructed to read a passage from Atonement and complete two questions about how a character copes with being accused of rape. Arthur, a 17-year-old French student behind the petition, told BFMTV: “Many people didn’t understand the word ‘coping’; it’s not a very common word.”
The petition complained: “The majority of students in the bac were not able to answer question M because they found it too difficult, with words only someone bilingual or with an excellent level in English could answer.
Alexander Sehmer (The Independent)
Following the exam students took to Twitter to voice their frustration using the hashtag #BacAnglais.
Twitter user @Zahnerosky wrote (in French) that "today I passed my test of written English incomprehension", while @Tota_lement was even more emphatic, tweeting: "WHAT WAS THIS QUESTION M IN THE BAC D’ANGLAIS SERIOUSLY"
Staff (BT News)
And more than 11,000 disgruntled students have signed a petition on Change.org asking either for Question M to be discounted, or for bonus points to be awarded to those who attempted to answer it.
The petition, targeted at France’s Education Minister Najat Belkacem and the Ministry of Education, states: “The majority of students…could not answer the question because it was too difficult. It is important to formulate questions with precision and clarity.”
But the petition has attracted fierce criticism on Twitter (though it’s worth pointing out that these seem to have come mostly from English-speaking users).
Henry Samuel (The Telegraph)
Given the groundswell of discontent, Arthur launched a petition on change.org, which has now garnered 10,300 signatures. It tells the education ministry that the question was “incomprehensible and impossible to answer” for most pupils.
Pupils "lost time thinking about the question” and could not finish the answer, the petition complains, calling for it to be “cancelled”, or for bonus points to be awarded to those who answered it.
However, not everyone agreed with the gripe amid with one commentator saying it would make “this generation look like a bunch of idiots”. One Twitter user, 18-year-old Hugo Travers, wrote: “In 2015, if you find a question too hard, you launch a petition, which is full of mistakes. No, just no.”
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"23 June 2015 - French students unable to 'cope' with English exam question ", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juin 2015. Consulté le 01/12/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2015/23-june-2015-french-students-unable-to-cope-with-english-exam-question-