Exam social media activity doubled in 2018

Ofqual analysis also reveals big spike in May that saw exam-related social media activity increase 12-fold
13th December 2018, 11:28am

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Exam social media activity doubled in 2018

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Social media activity relating to exams hit new heights in 2018, according to research by Ofqual. 

A report published by the regulator this morning on GCSE, AS and A-level exams taken this summer includes an analysis of social media activity relating to exams over the summer months in 2017 and 2018.

The graph shows that in 2018 there was over twice as much social activity at peak moments in May and June compared to 2017. 

Exams social media activity

The analysis covered ‘mentions’ and ‘engagements’ (interactions with posts such as likes, shares and click-throughs) involving about 300 exam-related keywords across a number of social media channels.

The highest level of activity was seen on 25 May 2018, when there were a total of 14,272 mentions and engagements involving Ofqual’s keywords - about a 12-fold increase on the level of activity on 20 May 2018.

In its report, Ofqual said: “In recent years, we have seen increasing use of social media by students, to express their feelings about exam papers, or questions within papers. 

“It has become common for the mainstream media to identify and highlight some of these posts. We actively monitor social media, so that we are aware of any potential areas of concern and able to act accordingly.

“Exam boards take a similar approach. This year, as in previous years, we saw posts which we queried with the relevant exam board, but many more where we did not consider it necessary to take any action (beyond continued monitoring).”

The increasing use of social media by young people has led to concerns that it could be “magnifying” exam anxiety.

Speaking on GCSE results morning this year, Alex Scharaschkin from AQA told journalists that the exam boards had “seen increases in volumes of enquiries” on Twitter.

“Certainly Twitter has really taken off over the last couple of years around exam time.

“Students, if they have an anxiety, they raise it on Twitter and that can actually get magnified very quickly because of retweeting and so on.”

He said that boards had teams who were working “around the clock” monitoring social media and allaying concerns.

“Sometimes a student will say ‘I wrote with the wrong coloured pen, will my answers still be marked?’ Of course they will. Just getting that out can calm things down.”

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