Engineering students angered by exam error

Students were left without a required formula sheet until 10 minutes before the exam was scheduled to end

Junior Fresh Engineering students were left confused and panicked during an exam yesterday, as were not given a required formula sheet until 10 minutes before the exam was scheduled to end. 

First year Engineering students undertaking the Engineering Materials and their Applications module required a formula sheet to complete 20% of the exam, which took place in RDS Simmonscourt yesterday evening. The formula sheet was not provided to students at the start of the exam, and was only provided towards the end of the exam after several students complained. 

The first year students had been informed by the module’s lecturer that a formula sheet would be provided, and would contain all the formulae needed to complete the electronics section of the exam. 

Sébastien Dunne Fulmer, a Junior Fresh Engineering student, told Trinity News: “I asked one of the invigilators about it around 40 minutes into the two hour exam. I waited a bit as I thought that they may just not have given it out yet, and the invigilator was not aware of any formula sheet so went off to find out about it for me. She came back about 10-15 minutes later and told me that they were aware of the issue and that I should have a formula sheet soon.” 

Formula sheets were then provided at around 6:50pm, with only 10 minutes of the exam remaining. There was no official announcement about the situation in the hall before this, according to Dunne Fulmer. Students were given an additional 10 minutes of extra time at the end of the exam to compensate for the delay in the provision of the formula sheets. 

Dunne Fulmer said: “After the fact, I’m annoyed that something ridiculous like this happened in the exam, it seems like the kind of thing that should have been caught by the lecturers checking the scripts before the exam, and it put many of us under unnecessary stress.”

Several students left the exam early, believing that no formula sheet would be provided, according to several students who sat the exam. 

Rogelio Ramel, the Engineering Junior Fresh class representative, told Trinity News: “The students who were looking forward to doing well on that question suddenly couldn’t answer a good chunk of it. While the sheet was given in the end, I can’t imagine the level of frustration that the students who left early were feeling when they were told that it was distributed in the end.”

Speaking to Trinity News, Junior Fresh Engineering student Fergus O’Brien, said: “This should not happen in a college that has been doing exams for hundreds of years. The system, along with the lacklustre way that the cloak room is being run, is not up to standard with the reputation that Trinity wishes to have.”

Professor Martin J Burke, a lecturer of the module, circulated an email to students after the exam acknowledging the initial absence of the formula sheet. He told students that the formula sheet was “submitted with the examination paper so I can’t explain why it was missing’.’

He continued: “Despite this being drawn to the attention of the invigilators early in the exam I did not become aware of it until 6.02pm. I acted immediately at 6.05pm to try to rectify the problem and have the formula sheet distributed. However, I am now aware that it appears to have taken longer to do this than expected.”

“I apologise that this happened and have not yet been able to find the cause,” he said. 

Prof Burke asked students to “please put your minds at ease and do not be unduly concerned,” continuing: “I will have to discuss the matter with my fellow examiners to find a solution. There are a number of options open to us and be rest assured we will find the fairest solution possible and nobody will be disadvantaged.” 

The Academic Registry had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Aisling Grace

Aisling Grace is the Editor-in-Chief of the 66th Volume of Trinity News. She was formerly Online Editor and Deputy News Editor, as well as an English Literature and History of Art and Architecture student.