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R E A D - T H E - Q U E S T I O N ! !
I happened to meet the two Module 2 examiners on Saturday, one of whom has finished marking the papers and the other is part way through.
Both separately spoke to me about the number of candidates who failed to read, or at least correctly comprehend, the question wording.

In particular this referred to the stopping headway calculation.
It seems (I have yet to see a copy of the question paper) that the question asked related to the minimum headway between one train leaving the mainline to enter a branchline and the following train continuing on the mainline. However what they got was a significant number of answers to a succession of stopping trains at the station, probably because that was the scenario for which candidate had rehearsed an answer methodology. These answers would gained few, if any, marks and may have made the markers less charitable when considering other parts of the student's answers that seemed a little dodgy.......

At the exam review each examiner in turn will stand up with an amused chortle, and say; "if only the candidates would read the question".

Why don't we read the question? Are we thick?

No, its because we are incredibly stressed, only have half an hour to answer, and cannot afford the time to contemplate the deeper meaning that the exam author intended.


In life, we suffer pressure and stress but we do not have the luxury to ask for latitude. I empathise of course but people are not being tested purely on the end answer but the journey and justification for the interpretation of the question.

On the basis the exam is vocational and designed to test the candidate, plus reading time is given, the request seems inappropriate. Good exam technique and deep knowledge of a subject should permit an answer with the candidate's method of why they answered in the way they did. That may not be the reason the examiner asked the question in the way they did but does explain why the two versions differ.
Le coureur
I think some questions are hard to understand, but not the majority. Examiners are human (and volunteers remember) so sometimes there is room for improvement. I am aware that examiners are very careful with wording and generally go with Jerry's comment that Good exam technique and plenty of past paper practice should permit a good answer.

OTOH I thought the "stopping calc" on last year's Mod 2 question a poor choice as it took several paragraphs to explain - I had to read it 3 or 4 times to understand what they were asking for - which was out of proportion to the simple arithmetic to reach the answer.

Just to confirm my suggestion, I spoke with an examiner who agreed. A candidate's role is to demonstrate their underpinning knowledge rather than just provision an answer. Ambiguity actually gives a candidate more latitude to do so.

Le coureur

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