London, Apr 1 : In the quest of winning extra marks in their exams, British pupils are increasingly using "sob stories" of hay fever, death of a pet and headaches, according to new figures.
The students are making full use of the week they are given after their last exam in a subject in order to make a plea for extra marks.
New figures indicate that more than 300,000 pupils have claimed for "special consideration" marks in their GCSE and A-level examinations.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) that supervises the examinations said that last year there was a nine per cent increase in successful claims.
Officially, the students are granted a week for making plea to get extra marks in their examinations, but QCA claimed that out of 100 such pleas, only 3 are rejected, and this has encouraged allegations that many students are getting better at playing the system.
It is believed that this rise is due to recent reports claiming that pupils with hay fever do worse in summer exams, which has led many sufferers to fake illness just for the sake of more marks.
"The number of candidates approved for special consideration has increased this year. This could be due to a greater awareness amongst exam officers in schools and colleges of what candidates are entitled to. As the regulator, we will monitor the situation closely to ensure that the system remains fair for all students," the Telegraph quoted a QCA spokesman, as saying.
England's main examination boards have also laid down guidelines indicating that marks can be increased by a maximum of five per cent in "exceptional circumstances" such as the death of a relative. It also stated that candidates would be considered eligible for "special consideration" if they are fully prepared for the exam and covered the whole course.
The guidelines also said that there can be a two per cent upgrade if the students suffer "a serious case of hayfever", a minor illness at the time of the exam or if they have a broken limb on the mend. One can be eligible for an extra one per cent in case of the death of a family pet on the day of a test or they are hampered by a headache. There are more minor problems, which qualify for special consideration, including noise during an exam and stress.
During 2007, 300,378 requests were granted for special consideration as against 274,967 in 2006 and 255,200 the year before. In fact, last year, the number of approved applications is around 1.4 per cent of all exam papers completed.
"These figures are extremely shocking. The very size of the numbers suggests that there is quite a lot of abuse taking place. It seems hard to believe that so many youngsters at a particular time have got serious social or fitness problems," said Nick Seaton, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Education.