CPE Science Paper 2014: There Were Two Teeth in Excess!

Mistakes in answers to exam questions cost a lot to the students. How about mistakes in the questions themselves?


An error was spotted in the Science Paper of the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations by a doctor from abroad. The latter noticed that a question on the types of teeth mistakenly included two teeth in excess (the teeth being mirror images of each other, so to say).

On the 9th page of the question paper, a diagrammatic representation of the inside of the human mouth is shown; more particularly, the lower jaw. The student is expected to identify two types of teeth, the incisor and the molar. However, the jaw that is shown in the question has two teeth more than the norm.

CPE science paper

In the diagram, three premolars have been shown instead of only two in each half of the lower jaw (the two additional ones have been crossed in red). The line of demarcation between the premolars and the molars has been placed in the wrong spot: molars are found in groups of three, while premolars in groups of two.

The mistake does not directly affect the answer to the question. However, it might have destabilised certain pupils.

When Lucien Finette, the director of the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES), was requested to comment on the issue, he said that the exercise has to do with spotting the appropriate places of the incisor and the molar, and that, therefore, it does not matter if two, three, or five premolars are present. According to him, this mistake would not have destabilised the candidates. He also added that this will be taken into consideration during the correction of the papers.


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