Thousands of German students protest against maths exam deemed 'too difficult'

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Thousands of German students protest against maths exam deemed 'too difficult'
Photo: DPA

It's not unusual for school pupils to find tests difficult. But students in Germany have taken it to the next level by launching petitions against their final secondary-school maths exam.


More than 60,000 people have signed the petitions launched by pupils in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Saarland, as well as in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Berlin, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, reported German media.

On Monday morning, more than 55,000 people had signed the petition to the Bavarian Ministry of Culture. In it, the students call on the Ministry to adapt the scoring system for the maths section of the exam so that it matches the difficulty level.

"We high-school graduates ask that the scale of the mathematics exam in Bavaria be lowered in 2019 and adapted to the degree of difficulty," the petition stated.

They said many of the tasks, particularly concerning geometry and statistics, had not been seen before in class by students, and were "more difficult" than previous years.

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Some students also complained about having too many questions to complete in the time given for the exam, which took place last Friday.

The Abitur is a pivotal national set of exams for German students leaving secondary school for university, and can shape their future careers.

Pupils across several states urged authorities to check the content of the maths test and reform the scoring system.

More than 3,400 have supported a petition from Hamburg pupils to the school authorities so far. Meanwhile, in Lower Saxony, pupils demanded "an immediate statement and a just solution". More than 10,400 people have supported the call so far.

In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern a similar petition has gathered more than 3,000 supporters, while in Saarland more than 3,000 people have backed a similar call.

States to launch investigation

Bavaria's Culture and Education Minister Michael Piazolo of the Freie Wählen (Free Voters), told DPA that the matter would be looked into. 

"Of course we take this seriously and will carefully examine it," he said. Piazolo added that he wanted to talk to experts and teachers about this on Monday.

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The pupils have also been backed by the Bavarian Teachers' Association. Simone Fleischmann, president of the association, told DPA that there had been a lot of unnecessary text in one part of the exam. "Many" pupils were therefore not finished in time, she said.

In Lower Saxony, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture told DPA: "We will have a look at the petition and then have the tasks examined professionally."

In Hamburg, the spokesman for the school authorities pointed out that the examination was only on Friday, and they had not yet looked into it.

'Unfair' questions

It's not the first time German students have protested against exams in public. Last year pupils in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg protested against the English-language portion of their Abitur, which they said had outdated references.

Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition demanding that officials update the scoring system in light of what they described as “unfair” questions.

Are you a teacher or student in Germany? Do you have views on this issue? Let us know.


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