An exam board has defended a GCSE maths question that involved working out the number of calories in a breakfast, after coming in for criticism on social media.
One complaint said a pupil had been forced to leave the Edexcel GCSE maths exam last week after seeing the question, while another criticised the board for posing a question about calorie counting to “the age group most likely to suffer” from eating disorders.
Pearson – the company behind Edexcel – defended the question as “valid”, but urged students to get in touch if they believed it had impacted their performance.
Quick read: 'What exactly was the point of exam reforms?'
Quick listen: How to judge teacher and school performance
Want to know more? How to help girls overcome exam anxiety
The question appeared in Edexcel’s calculator paper, which was sat by candidates on Thursday 6 June.
It read: There are 84 calories in 100g of banana. There are 87 calories in 100g of yogurt.
Priti has 60g of banana and 150g of yogurt for breakfast.
Work out the total number of calories in this breakfast.
One critic said her sister had been forced to leave the exam before of the question: "A girl called ‘pretty’ was counting her calories after eating a banana and the kids had to work out how much she had eaten…my sister is a recovering anorexic who had to leave the exam due to this".
Another user commented: “One of the questions in my maths exam triggered me LIKE IT WAS ABOUT CALORIES AND I JUST WANTED TO CRY BC HOW LOW IVE BEEN FEELING ABOUT MY BODY.”
A third user criticised the board for the question:
@PearsonEdexcel I am sorry, but can I ask what on earth you where thinking by haveing a question around counting calories. Your exams are primarily taken by 15-20 year olds, who are also the age group most likely to suffer from eating disorder! 😡 #GCSEMaths— Poppy Willow Kent (@that_girl_pops) June 6, 2019
Another pupil said that the question had been “triggering” for her and that the calories were "not enough to eat for a breakfast”.
In a tweet published this afternoon, Pearson said: “In a maths exam taken last week, candidates were asked to solve a practical problem calculating the number of calories in a banana and a yoghurt.
“We have reviewed the question and find it to be valid. We encourage any student who thinks that this question may have impacted their performance to get in contact with us via the school.
“We understand the summer exam series is a stressful time for students and we wish all students every success with their remaining exams.”