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Students protest over 'extra-hard' university entrance exam
SIXTH-FORMERS staged a protest in Valencia after taking their university entrance exam and facing 'impossible' maths questions.
This week, young adults across Spain sat what used to be called Selectividad, an independent paper which sums up the contents of the Bachillerato (A-level) syllabus and of which the marks determine whether they will get into university, as well as what level of grant they will qualify for.
Whilst the Bachillerato is set and marked by their school or college, Selectividad is independently graded and is the same across each region – although not across the country.
According to students throughout the provinces of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón which make up the east-coast region, the maths questions were 'nearly impossible' and, according to a petition raised on Change.org which has already netted over 40,000 signatures, the paper was 'the most difficult in history'.
Spokesman for the protesting students, Carlos Naranjo, says it was 'shameful' how the exam featured a 'level of difficulty' that was 'completely out of place'.
Banners at the demonstration clamoured against an education system which, they said, 'destroyed their dreams'.
Parents also joined the protest – one of whom, a father whose daughter had achieved top marks in her Bachillerato and wanted to study medicine, said he was concerned that if her grades in Selectividad were too low to qualify for a grant or even get her into Valencia University, the family would 'have to spend a fortune on a private college' or even 'send her abroad'.
Regional government director-general for universities, Josefina Bueno, appealed to students to be 'calm and prudent' and 'not to lose their cool', because 'none of the papers has been graded yet'.
“One thing is the world of 'likes' and another is where real life happens – but we're at a moment in time where everything goes viral,” Sra Bueno lamented.
She said around 20,000 candidates took the university entrance exam where everything 'went according to plan', whilst 9,000 of them took the maths exam 'and yet the petition has over 40,000 signatures'.
Also last year, a student started a petition on Change.org over the difficulty of part of the exam, she said, but that same student ended up achieving 100% for the paper.
This said, 'anyone is entitled to put in a formal complaint', and the regional education authority has been receiving these for all subject areas – albeit only from about 15 students so far.
These complaints are 'being looked into', as are the reasons, since 'the problems may be due to lack of attendance in class for medical reasons in some cases'.
She insisted that the maths exam was 'in accordance with the syllabus' with 'no irregularities', but that all appeals would be studied 'to see whether there were any mistakes made'.
“The information will be analysed and a final decision issued, but this is a process that requires a bit of time, so it would be rash of us to issue a judgment at this stage,” Sra Bueno insists.
As yet, she adds, no student or parent has asked for a meeting with the regional education authority, which is 'focusing at the moment on making university education accessible' via 'lower tuition fees, increases in financial assistance and creating a State-wide example, such as grants in salary format'.
Photograph: The questions in the maths section that led to the protest in Valencia (Change.org)
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