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IStructE candidates fume after error forces exam re-sit

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CANDIDATES IN the Institution of Structural Engineers' (IStructE) notoriously tough chartered membership exam were this week outraged after being told they must re-sit the paper due to an error in one of the questions.

Around 40 of the 250 engineers who opted to answer the wrongly worded question were last week informed that due to the wording error, their answers did not meet the IStructE's 'standard and requirements'.

In a letter to the unfortunate engineers, IStructE examinations manager Peter Jinks said: 'The wording of the question called for a single viable scheme to be presented, whereas it should have required two distinct and viable schemes.' He added: 'The Institution very much regrets the error in the printing of the paper, but must maintain its professional standards.' Some 700 people took the examination in April. Problems surround Question 1 of the paper which should have asked candidates to present two viable schemes in their answer.

Only one scheme was in fact demanded by April's paper.

The 40 candidates who answered Question 1 with a single scheme have now been offered the opportunity to re-sit with a new paper in September.

But engineers affected reacted with anger and disappointment at the IStructE's handling of the situation. 'Three months of revision and preparation at weekends and in my evenings is just lost, ' said one. 'Now I'm going to have to do the same again all through the summer.' An on-line forum has been formed by candidates affected to share their thoughts and frustrations. Many are angry at being penalised for following the instructions.

'How many people have failed for not sticking word for word to the brief?' said one candidate. 'This is one of the top reasons for failing. Unless I am told otherwise on the day, if the question asks for one (answer), I give one. The question asks for three I give three.' The IStructE has always prided itself on the rigor of its chartered membership exam which has an average pass rate of just 37.5%. This compares to the ICEs chartered membership review which passes around 85%.

Jinx's letter defended the decision as being necessary to protect IStructE's 'professional standards'. He said that it been decided that regardless of the question's wording, candidates that produced just one scheme 'cannot be deemed to have met the institution's standard and publicised requirements of the examination'.

All candidates affected by the decision have been invited to re-take the chartered membership exam on Friday 21 September.

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