Pupils up and down the country have been left “devastated” by the supposed leak of an A-level exam paper.
The AQA A-level Chemistry paper, which was sat by students on Monday 20 June, appears to have been available to view, or even buy, on social media sites Snapchat and TikTok for more than a week before students sat down in the exam hall.
AQA is Britain’s biggest exam board, and it is said the alleged leak could be the biggest in the exam board’s history.
So, was the paper leaked, what has AQA said about it, and what will happen next for students who sat the exam?
Here’s what you need to know.
Was the Chemistry exam leaked?
Students have taken to social media to express concerns that the AQA Chemistry Paper 2, Organic and Physical Chemistry, may have been leaked before the exam date.
One student, called Ella Kate Warren, took to Twitter to share screenshots of another student’s tweet which appears to show photos of the exam paper which had been shared on Snapchat prior to pupils sitting down in the exam hall to take the two hour exam.
She said: “AQA A level chemistry paper 2 was leaked, students include myself can recognise questions from todays paper so it’s confirmed it was leaked as images were circulating before this morning.”
Another student said they believed the supposed leak could be the biggest leak in the exam board’s history.
They said “idek cause sm ppl got access to the paper and sm ppl viewed like that tiktok of it, god knows what they’re going to do, i’ve heard it’s the biggest paper leak in aqa history? so defo gonna be some huge impacts.”
How has AQA responded?
AQA responded to Ella Kate Warren, with their own tweet and said they would be prepared to report fraud to the police.
They said: “Hi Ella. We investigate each case like this and report fraud to the police. Our advice to students is to steer clear, as trying to buy/view even a fake paper could get them in a lot of trouble.”
An AQA spokesperson said: “We’re very disappointed to hear that some students may have seen our A-level Chemistry paper 2 before the exam.
“Our exams integrity team is investigating and will take any action necessary, including working with the police.
“We realise students might be concerned, but we’d like to reassure them that there are lots of things we can do to make sure no-one has an unfair advantage - which could include monitoring for any students with suspicious performance on this paper.”
What will happen for students who sat the exam?
AQA has not yet indicated how this apparent leak could impact students who sat the exam.
Students are, however, concerned that it could lead to the paper being voided due to the possibility that some students may have had a fair advantage if they did see or buy the paper prior to the exam date.
“How much are we betting that aqa voids the chemistry paper 2 guys #alevelchemistry”
A parent of a student who sat the exam said his daughter had been left devastated by the leak.
He said: “AQA A level chemistry paper 2 was leaked, she has now seen the leaked images and is devastated. She is predicted an A* and now is fearful.”
This summer is the first time students have sat GCSE and A-level exams normally since before the Covid pandemic, when assessments were cancelled and teachers set grades instead.
Some students have now said they are worried that the grade boundaries for the paper, which are based on averages, could now be skewed.
They have also called for teacher’s predicted grades to be used for the third year running for the subject of Chemistry due to the situation.
“How tf are the grade boundaries going to be fair this year considering people have cheated and we don’t know how many people have seen the AQA A Level chemistry paper 2.
“I’d rather them use teacher predicted grades for our results for chem because this years results are not fair.”
One of the options available to AQA will be to discount the entire paper.
There are three AQA Chemistry papers, with each carrying about 35% weight, and so if the exam board does cancel the second exam they would need to raise the weighting of the other two papers to 50%.
Has an exam paper been leaked before?
Two people were arrested after a maths paper by exam board Edexcel was leaked in 2019.
This was the third year in a row and prompted a student protest outside the exam board’s headquarters.
A tweet at the time offered to allow students to buy the entire paper for £70 so they could see the exam before they sat it.
Police were also called in that year to investigate the alleged leak of an AQA GCSE religious studies paper.
Plans are being considered by Ofqual, England’s exams watchdog, to move GCSEs and A-levels permanently online as they argue it would improve security.
An Ofqual spokesman said it “takes security breaches extremely seriously” and “will make sure its rules on investigations and malpractice are followed”.