A-Level Chemistry Scripts Stolen, But Students Allowed To Retake Paper 3 Exam

When we said that we wanted to do away with exams, we didn’t mean this.

A whopping 238 students’ A-Level H2 Chemistry Paper 3 scripts were stolen in the United Kingdom, en route to being graded by examiners last year on Nov 16.

Wait, but why?

Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said on Friday (Feb 23) that affected students’ grades have been adjusted accordingly.

Schools affected include Anderson Junior College (AJC), Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC), Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and Nanyang Junior College (NYJC).

How will this affect the students’ grades?

As the H2 Chemistry Exam consists of four papers, the scripts that were foisted by the unknown thief are from Paper 3.

A notoriously difficult paper that consists of open-ended “free-response questions” and takes up 35% of the entire grade.


Paper 1 (15%) – Multiple Choice Questions
Paper 2 (30%) – Structured Questions
Paper 3 (35%) – Free Response Questions (STOLEN)
Paper 4 (20%) – Practical

We’re not sure if that’s a blessing in disguise for some of the students in question.

But SEAB has stated that they will project the remaining 35% of the grade, based on the students’ performance in their other papers.

Apparently, the method used is “tried and tested” and has “statistical soundness”.

Of course, statistical prowess aside, this method will not help students know the actual outcome of the papers they sat for.

What’s the thief’s motive?

Who knows?

Us, trying to figure out why

Why this particular person in UK would need 238 Chemistry A-Level scripts is a mystery that none of us here can solve.

How did 238 scripts vanish into thin air?

On Nov 16, a parcel containing the students’ scripts was “in transit” from Cambridge Assessment’s office to the examiner for marking.

The parcel contained:

  • 60 scripts from ACJC
  • 60 scripts from HCI
  • 60 scripts from NYJC
  • 58 scripts from AJC

Somehow, it was stolen from a “locked courier company van” along with seven unrelated parcels.

Perhaps the thief was interested in the other parcels. That makes a lot more sense.

Although the theft was reported to the police that day, it still remains unsolved — which explains why the scripts have not been recovered.

What did these students score in the end?

In short, the candidate’s marks in Papers 1, 2 and 4 were used to work out the candidate’s ranking within the cohort.

The percentile ranking was then used to derive the missing Paper 3 mark, and project the total grade.

To counter check for inconsistencies in their overall performances, the students’ past school-based results were used.

238 candidates got at least a pass grade for the subject and 81% of them scored an A or B grade.

All candidates also showed grade improvements in this national exam as compared to their prelims.

Consequences of the theft

Affected students were informed of the shocking turn of events on Friday (23 Feb) upon receiving their results.

SEAB had waited for the scripts to be recovered to mark them, but as the January deadline for marking of Chemistry papers drew near, they realised this was not practical.

SEAB personnel chose not to inform the students of the case as it would cause “undue anxiety”.

This is also apparently the first time that answer scripts from a national examination have been stolen.

Back in 1993, 261 O-Level Literature scripts were lost, but the papers were 100% responsible for the grade received by students.

Students can retake Paper 3 if they want

Students who are still dissatisfied with their grades are invited to re-sit the H2 Chemistry Paper 3 if they wish, on Apr 25 or in Nov 2018 with the next batch of A-level candidates.

The better of two grades will be taken as their final attempt.

But hey, who realistically wants to take A-level Chem again right?

Making grades out of missing papers

No matter how accurate a projected grade is, it’s still just an estimate of an actual performance.

It’s also not exactly fair to project the final grade of the arguably more difficult Paper 3, from the less challenging Multiple Choice and Structured Response sections.

Cambridge examiners should look out for suspicious individuals selling armfuls of 2017 Paper 3 scripts, outside Chemistry exam venues this year.


All 238 of them, to be exact.

We at MustShareNews would like to extend a hearty congratulations to all the students who received their results today.

Especially to those who survived A-Level Chemistry.

Featured image from FinalDraft.