Comment & Analysis
Apr 19, 2020

Trinity Has Made Exam Blunders Before, But This Year’s Are Especially Damning

Errors of varying degrees of seriousness appeared in many students’ exam timetables this week.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

Students are currently preparing for an unprecedented exam period, with the traditional RDS setup upended and online and take-home assessments ushered in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But in Trinity, it seems that the more things change, the more things stay dispiritingly the same.

When College released the exam timetable this week – 10 days before the starting gun sounds on summer assessments – it was met with uproar from many students.


Errors of varying degrees of seriousness appeared in many students’ timetables. Some were scheduled to take exams five days before the assessment period was officially due to begin, while others found themselves scheduled to sit exams in modules they were not even registered for. Most of those affected reported that their exams overlapped with one another.

College officials have promised to resolve the issues as quickly as possible, and emphasised that only a small number of schools were affected by these administrative mistakes.

But given the level of uncertainty and anxiety that many students are facing as a result of the pandemic and closure of campus – as well as College’s insistence that supporting students was the most important thing ahead of a set of assessments already compromised by a deadly pandemic – it’s disappointing that these errors were made in the first place.

It’s not like College is starting from a place of strength: time and again in recent years it has struggled with the nuts and bolts of organising assessments. From the 2018 fiasco that saw hundreds of students issued incorrect exam papers, to repeated issues with the cloakroom in the RDS, College does not have a good track record in this area.

But in this of all years students would have been hoping for better. Many are preparing to sit exams in circumstances far beyond adverse, and it’s hard to stomach the fact that easily preventable mistakes were not avoided.

Last week, this Editorial Board commended Trinity for implementing a creative and compassionate set of measures to limit the impact of the coronavirus on students’ grades.

It’s unfortunate that the events of this week represent one step forward, two steps back for students.