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UK considers fine over Shakespeare exam blunder

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London : A UK examination’s regulator on Sunday indicated that it may consider a fine on an examination board over a blunder in its Shakespeare question which mixed up the two warring clans of the Bard’s most popular play ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) examinations board confused the Capulets and the Montagues in a question on the English literature General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) paper taken by around 14,000 teenagers.

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


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

“The Romeo and Juliet error is a unique case. It was a bad error, it was an unacceptable error,” Sally Collier, chief regulator of Ofqual, told ‘The Sunday Times’.

“We have been working very closely with the OCR to ensure everything possible is done to minimise the impact on student performance. I want to return to this after the summer and as a regulator I may well want to take action. I have a range of powers at my disposal. I can fine them, investigate them or direct them to take a specific action,” she said.

Collier’s comments come as universities and schools were warned this weekend that, despite the attempt to prevent results from plummeting, a new system could still bring chaos.

More than 200,000 sixth-formers who will get their A- level grades next week have been the guinea pigs for the new regime.            –PTI