I was looking at the Edexcel website to see some information about their ESOL exams, as it seems that the UCLES exams have fallen out of favour with government, which will not be popular with students as UCLES are the gold standard for many. Edexcel have been in the news on many occasion for mistakes in exams and other administrative errors, so the title of this entry, which comes from the description of ESOL (Skills for Life) Entry level, doesn't inspire much confidence. The Writing Test for Level 2 is confusing- question 2c comes before 2b and doesn't have any handwritten text to correct, though it instructs studentsto find five mistakes in the missing text. There is something deliciously ironic in asking students to proof read the missing text in a question in the wrong order.
While it is true that these are draft tests, there is a risk that they are being rushed out to fill the market created by the government's decision to stop funding UCLES exam courses, but with the board's reputation for errors and not checking their papers carefully enough, it is worrying. The situation is unclear and the academic year is beginning, and teachers just have some sloppy drafts to go on. The theme of the written paper is smoking and, while educating people about the risks makes sense, it seems rather hectoring to choose to bang on about addiction in an exam, where a fair number of the candidates will be smokers. Many exam boards avoid topics that might offend or disturb the candidates, often to the point of blandness, but using an exam as a way of drumming in a social message seems a rather excessive approach.