A leak of a GCSE religious studies paper that is being investigated by the police was not the fault of AQA’s security measures, the exam board has said.
According to posts on a student chatroom, the paper was being offered for £30 on Snapchat.
The paper in question was taken by pupils on Monday 20 May, and –according to AQA – only one page was affected by the leak.
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AQA told Tes that the leak was reported to Action Fraud – the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. The exam board's spokesperson added: "There’s nothing to suggest this issue has anything to do with AQA’s security measures."
AQA said the lack of online conversations about the leak suggested that it may not have been widely shared.
However, posts on The Student Room from last month show pupils discussing the leak. “Sorry to say it but it got leaked,” comments one pupil. “It was leaked on Snapchat, first section was free, if you wanted the whole paper you would have to pay £30. Can't be bothered doing another RE paper, smashed that one and don’t want to do it again.”
On the thread, pupils can be seen worrying that the leak will result in them having to resit the paper.
Louisa Fyans, AQA’s head of exams integrity and inspection, said the board was “extremely disappointed to discover that some students were able to see a page from a GCSE religious studies paper before the exam”.
“We contacted the police straight away and we’ve been doing our own investigation too,” she said.
“We realise students might be concerned but we’d like to reassure them that there are lots of things we can do to make sure no one gets away with cheating, such as monitoring for students with inconsistent marks for this page.
“While we often see claims of leaks on social media during exam season, these are nearly always hoaxes designed to trick students or cause panic. Our advice to students is always to steer well clear, as trying to view even a fake paper could affect their results.
“Students work hard for their exams, so we have zero tolerance of anyone who tries to cheat or to help others to cheat.”
A spokesman for the exam regulator Ofqual said: "AQA informed us of its investigation of a security breach of one of its GCSE religious studies exams in May. We are monitoring AQA’s response and how it intends to ensure that no student is advantaged."
“We take the integrity of exams very seriously. Any leak is completely unacceptable and causes unnecessary distress to students. Exam delivery relies on the integrity of everyone involved and malpractice is rare in a system of this size, involving around 2000 exam papers each year.
“Every year, we publish a report on our monitoring of the summer exam series, in which we discuss any incidents that occurred. When this exam series has finished, we will review and report on how the series has gone and consider what more the system needs to do to counter threats to its integrity.”
The news of the AQA leak follows the leaking of Edexcel’s A-level maths paper earlier this month, which is also the subject of a police investigation.
This summer’s exam season has also been bedevilled by hoax exam leaks circulating on social media.