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Appeal
#1
I was sent this enquiry:


Quote:I have just received my exam results and I would like to appeal. Do you know where I can find the appeal procedure?

The exam regulations for 2016 (which I assume are not fundamentally different from 2015) say the following:

Quote:7.2 The Examination Committee’s decision is final and they will not enter into any correspondence regarding the marks gained by a candidate or the number of marks required for a pass.
7.3 Should there be any exceptional concerns about the result obtained, an appeal may be made by writing to the Membership and Registration Manager. This must be received by 4 May 2016. Appeals, which must include appropriate grounds, will only be considered at the discretion of the Council.
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#2
(01-04-2016, 09:56 PM)Peter Wrote: I was sent this enquiry:


Quote:I have just received my exam results and I would like to appeal. Do you know where I can find the appeal procedure?

The exam regulations for 2016 (which I assume are not fundamentally different from 2015) say the following:

Quote:7.2 The Examination Committee’s decision is final and they will not enter into any correspondence regarding the marks gained by a candidate or the number of marks required for a pass.
7.3 Should there be any exceptional concerns about the result obtained, an appeal may be made by writing to the Membership and Registration Manager. This must be received by 4 May 2016. Appeals, which must include appropriate grounds, will only be considered at the discretion of the Council.

The matter of appeals was discussed at the recent Exam Review.  The key message is that the appeal must explain the grounds on which the result is considered incorrect.  This cannot just be "I expected to pass and I didn't" but must be specific; for example if there was a particular question that the candidate answered in a way appropriate to their environment which differs significantly from the uk in a manner that the examiners might be unaware and could have incorrectly penalised because of that ignorance.  

So for example an AHBC in the UK may not be used over more than a pair of running lines; hence if a question was about describing a type of level crossing on a 4 track mainline an AHBC would be judged inappropriate and the candidate could end up with very few marks for that question and thus fail the module.  The candidate could be from Bulgaria and for all I know this could be a legitimate arrangement there; this might therefore be a reason for the candidate to appeal because they would have a credible reason for why their grade might be unjust and so therefore this would be grounds for their paper to be looked at again in the light of this additional knowledge.

As I understand it, the candidate has to postulate one or more factors that might not have been correctly taken into account when their marks were established (remember every paper is marked completely independently by two examiners and special attention is paid whenever there is a significant discrepancy in the marks awarded and whenever the candidate's mark is close to agreed boundary that is another reason why the rationale behind the marks is scrutinised in extra detail often involving a third person) the first time. Basically there needs to be "fresh evidence" to justify reopening the case.

Obviously it is disappointing to fail any exam, but the reality is that the pass rate of most of the modules last year was around 50% with some quite a lot lower than that.  The most likely reason why someone failed who thought they had done well is that they misinterpreted one or more questions and may have written a lot of accurate information down but actually did not serve to answer the question which was asked and so would not have scored highly; this seems to be the most common failure mode. 

As was said many times last week (and indeed in previous years)
  • READ THE QUESTION
  • READ THE WHOLE QUESTION BEFORE YOU START ANSWERING ANY OF IT
  • LOOK WHERE THE MARKS ARE
  • ANSWER THE PRECISE QUESTION ASKED. NOT LAST YEAR'S OR ONE OF YOUR OWN MAKING ON THE GENERAL TOPIC BEING CONSIDERED
  • DIVIDE YOUR TIME ACCORDING TO THE MARK ALLOCATION
  • ENSURE YOU COVER THE WHOLE SCOPE OF THE QUESTION, NOT OVERSPECIALISING IN JUST ONE ELEMENT OF IT
If you don't, you will find that the examiners award few marks, despite you possibly feeling that you had done well.


So the advice to anyone before they appeal because of their incredulity of their result:

1 Look again at the questions you answered back in October (papers in the public area of IRSE website), try to remember how you answered it and reconsider in the calm light of retrospect if you are really happy that you answered the precise question adequately,

2 If you are sure you did for all questions of a module, then think why else it could be that the examiners gave you a result lower than you expected.  If you can think of anything (e.g. are you claiming the question was ambiguous or somehow by answering it from the standards with which you are familiar you might have been misjudged by UK based examiners) then you have identified specific grounds for appeal and therefore you should do so; if you can't suggest one or more reasons why the result might be unfair then you should not.

The examiners already feel that far too much of their time (and remember they are volunteers and are not getting paid for it) is being wasted by people who sit the exam without being sufficiently prepared and indeed the recent Survey Monkey poll of candidates themselves tends to support that view [the claimed amount of preparation (only typically a couple of months and hardly likely to be understated in such a poll!, the comparison of the judgement of exam difficulty compared with earlier expectation and the fact that this Exam Form was quoted by a very high percentage of respondents as being the principal source of feedback on their attempts which- sounds great until one realises how few people actually post their attempts for comments so suggesting that few actually do get feedback on their efforts prior to the exam]
Every appeal obviously gives those on the committee more work, so they are not going to take kindly to being asked to review the scores of candidates who did badly because of their own inadequate preparation / practice / learning from feedback.  
The examiners are all conscientious people who I am sure would be keen to right any wrong that they inadvertantly committed, but the appeal application must indicate something that can be investigated, rather than being a vague complaint that the person's result did not match their own expectation. 
So if you are considering appealing, do be very sure in your own mind that the fault is not with you but that there simply must be something that caused your output to be mis-assessed; otherwise by launching an appeal you risk becoming more unpopular by exacerbating the waste of time already created. In 2015 the majority (nearly two thirds) of those sitting the exam DID NOT PASS; if you didn't pass then statistically it is far more likely that you were correctly placed in that category than being the exception- so make sure your appeal documentation presents convincing argument about why your case is different from the rest from whom you wish to separate yourself.
PJW
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