Students ‘In Tears’ Because Of This Error In GCSE Question


Students were left ‘in tears’ after an exam board made a big mistake in an English literature question.

Around 14,000 pupils taking the GCSE paper were faced with an error in a question about Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

The question confused the two warring families – the Capulets and the Montagues – in the famous tragedy about two star-crossed lovers.

Candidates were asked: “How does Shakespeare present the ways in which Tybalt’s hatred of the Capulets influences the outcome of the play?”


But Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin and a Capulet, so the question should have referred to his hatred of the Montagues.

One of the school’s affected by the error was Chesterton Community College in Cambridge.

Headteacher Lucy Scott told the Cambridge News:

Anybody who has read Romeo and Juliet will know that Tybalt is a Capulet. He doesn’t hate the Capulets, he hates the Monatgues. We have got students who have been preparing for three years for this exam and they were absolutely thrown.

All of the students sitting the paper had prepared for this question in particular, and had no option except answering it. Their responses represent 20% of their final GCSE grade.


Changes in the course programme means there is no longer a coursework element, so their final grades depended on the exam, which Ms Scott said left students in tears.

She said:

Basically what we need is a very clear detailed response which will assuage the worries of parents, students and staff, and something which takes into account what students have done.

They are 16. They’ve been in education since the age of four, and this is the culmination of their education. If we can’t get a question right, I think that’s appalling.

The exam board, OCR, has issued an apology to those affected.

A statement said:

We’re aware of an error in today’s OCR GCSE English Literature paper. We apologise and will put things right when the exam is marked and graded so no student need worry about being disadvantaged.

We are investigating as a matter of urgency how this got through our assurance processes.