New Zealand Qualifications Authority and remarked paper with miscalculated mark

Regulatory and investigative agencies
Ombudsmen Act 1975
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Ombudsmen Act 1975
Sir Brian Elwood
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Correction of arithmetical error in raw marks—remarking reduced mark—no effect on final scaled mark

A candidate in the 1992 bursary examinations found that there had been an arithmetical error on his marked script for one paper. Ten marks which had been awarded for one question had been omitted from his total raw mark (the mark before scaling), giving him a total raw mark of 78 instead of 88.

After complaining to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the question was remarked by the Chief Examiner and, as a result, the raw score was increased by 9 marks to 87. As another candidate in the same paper had also received a raw mark of 87, the two were awarded joint top scholar and shared the prize money provided by NZQA for top scholars.

The candidate complained that the NZQA should have simply corrected the arithmetical error and not remarked his paper. He argued that the remarking had effectively deprived him of his rightful place as the top scoring student in the particular subject.

In its report, the NZQA explained that whenever a candidate seeks a review of a mark, the answer booklet is always remarked in order to eliminate the possibility of further errors. It also explained that in the scaling table for the subject raw marks between 84 and 88 were scaled to 80. As a consequence, the remarking had not affected the final mark awarded to the complainant and the complaint could not be sustained. However, as a result of the investigation, he could be satisfied that he had not been disadvantaged by the way in which the NZQA had dealt with the matter.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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