Singapore students appeal to retake exam botched by ‘horrendous’ accents

An online petition asking for the English listening exam to be re-administered. Image: Change.Org
An online petition asking for the English listening exam to be re-administered. Image: Change.Org

More than 400 students today are petitioning the school board to retake an English listening test they say was made unlistenable by heavy accents.

After the Secondary four students took yesterday’s national exam, aka the GCE N-Level examination, they launched a petition alleging that the recorded portion was muffled, and the voices spoke in thick accents that were hard to make out. 

“The audio for the [listening comprehension] was muffled and students could not apprehend what they were saying. Tried asking the teachers to raise the volume and it did not work but made the audio even more muffled. Repeatedly tried to tell the teachers the problems but the problem was not rectified,” petition creator Timothee Junxiang wrote.

The problem wasn’t limited to a single school. On Reddit, hundreds of comments from students at different schools agreed the speakers used for the test switched between Australian, British and Swedish accents, did not enunciate well, and read “very fast.”

Nearly 500 people had signed the petition as of late Tuesday morning.

“[I don’t know] if it’s just me or like the recordings were VERY muffled and the accents were horrendous. [L]ike hello? Swedish accent? […] I’m not deaf. [I]t’s the damn accent [I] cannot hear, all you are doing is increasing the volume which makes me hear the muffled sounds on a louder volume,” Redditor Frequent-Pop-3356 wrote.

Another Redditor agreed.

 “[I don’t] even know what they were saying [I] cannot even answer from the first round from the speaker, [I] only can understand from the second round and THE ACCENT like wtf why suddenly switch from [A]ussie to [B]ritish [E]nglish in like question by question,” Xdbrotherr wrote. “There is no consistency.”

Education officials have yet to respond to queries sent via email.

One user, however, said her batch did not encounter the same problems.

“[H]ellooo there was no audio issues on my end and my friends and [I] didn’t find anything weird with the accent! [I] think u should appeal? [S]ince a few people also felt the same way!” Redditor Correctiontapee wrote.

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