PODCAST | The Story: Solving the unsolvable - matric maths paper and the infamous question 5

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It's not long until the end of the year, and many matric learners are counting down the days until they finish their final exams. But, those who wrote the Matric Maths paper 2 last week are anxious about their results after trying to solve the unsolvable question 5.
It's not long until the end of the year, and many matric learners are counting down the days until they finish their final exams. But, those who wrote the Matric Maths paper 2 last week are anxious about their results after trying to solve the unsolvable question 5.
  • An error in a trigonometry question in the Maths Paper 2 has frustrated matrics and parents.
  • Question 5 was unsolvable, and matrics will now have to wait until January to find out how their marks will be adjusted.
  • The Department of Basic Education will decide whether an upward mark adjustment of 1% or 2% is necessary.

It's not long until the end of the year, and many matrics are counting down the days to the end of their final exams. 

But those who wrote the Maths Paper 2 are anxious about their results. Students were baffled by question five, as it was impossible to solve.

This week on The Story, we speak to News24 reporter Nicole McCain and the CEO of quality assurance body, Umalusi, Mafu Rakometsi.

McCain said it seemed "there was a typo, a minus when there should have been a plus, an incorrect number in the question, and, with maths, something small like that can completely change the equation".

She said matrics and parents "expect more from the education department in terms of checking papers, and they also have questions about what happens now".

The Department of Basic Education is investigating how it happened - but McCain said there was unlikely to be clarity about how the paper would be marked before January. 

McCain said:

What is the most likely outcome is that they will simply subtract the number of marks for that question from the total.

Rakometsi said: "There should be a recalculation that excludes the seven marks for that question.

"It might have thrown off some learners because of trauma and anxiety, and that will be dealt with when we deal with standardisation.

"When they do badly, we say why did they do badly."

"Is it because they were traumatised by that section of the paper, and that would be in comparison with the average of the past five years? So we will cross that bridge in early January when the marks are standardised."



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