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An exam board is being fined for confusing Romeo and Juliet’s warring families

Reuters/Eddie Keogh
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
By Edmund Heaphy
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Confusing the families at war in Shakespeare’s most famous tragic play Romeo and Juliet would be a mortifying mistake to make as a student. But for an exam board that did just that, it’s a finable offense, according to Britain’s exam regulator Ofqual.

In May 2017, more than 14,000 British students were faced with a question that asked for an explanation of how Tybalt’s hatred of the Capulet family influences the outcome of Romeo and Juliet. The problem was Juliet’s hot-headed cousin bears no hatred for his own family—and that the question should have referred to the Montagues, the family of Romeo, instead.

Ofqual said in a statement that the exam board responsible, OCR, should be fined a record £175,000 ($232,000) for the mistake. It explained that OCR made the exam paper “not fit for purpose” and is likely to have had a “serious adverse impact on public confidence in qualifications.”

Some 2,735 of the more than 4,000 students who answered questions on Romeo and Juliet were awarded a grade for the exam based on their answers to questions in other sections of the paper.

OCR has until July 16 to make representations to the regulator but the Telegraph reports that the exam board is not expected to contest the penalty.

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