A student branded a cheat after she was sent exam questions hours before the test has proved her critics wrong – by getting top marks her re-sit.
Fabienne Ruttledge was ‘devastated’ when she was disqualified from her final sociology exam last June after three of the questions were posted in a WhatsApp group.
The 19-year-old was told she could only score 15 out of 90 on the paper, despite having never met the student who sent the questions after sitting the exam early.
Fabienne, from Loughton, Essex, insisted that although she read the questions, they did not give her unfair advantage because she was already predicted an A*.
She ended up with a U (ungraded), bringing her overall sociology mark down to a C and final grades to ABC, leaving her university place in the balance.
Luckily, the University of Kent still gave her a place to study Law despite needing AAA, but she still wanted to silence her critics.
Fabienne, who studied at Wanstead High School, said: “I didn’t get a very positive response from people I didn’t know on the internet – lots of them called me a cheater.
“But everyone I knew was really supportive and agreed I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I wasn’t expecting to get in, but they accepted me on mitigating circumstances.
“They obviously agreed the whole thing was unfair and decided to give me a chance anyway.
“I was so happy, I had worked so hard for those two years and was really ready to go university, I didn’t want to take a gap year.
“But I saw that C grade and thought ‘that’s not fair, I don’t deserve that’ and decided I wanted to re-sit almost straight away.”
Despite having to juggle three first year uni exams, Fabienne started revising for the sociology re-take after the Easter holidays in April.
Using her notes from last time she set aside one day a week to study sociology and went back to her old school to do the exam in June.
Last Thursday she went back to Wanstead High to get her results, and was astounded to find she had bagged an A*.
She added: “I was in complete shock, I didn’t expect to get an A* this time around, with my uni exams as well.
“But I’m glad I’ve proven myself.
“I didn’t want future employers to see a grade on my CV that doesn’t reflect my ability.
“Law is really competitive and I know people who have missed out on training contracts because of their A-Level grades.”
Fabienne says she is “loving” university life and hopes to go into commercial law when she graduates in 2019.
She maintains that although she read which questions were due to come up, she was ‘victimised’ by exam board AQA.
She said: “I did read them, but didn’t think they were the real questions.
“I found it extremely difficult to believe someone would be able to get away with having their phone on them and then leave the hall mid-exam to tell someone.
“I’d already revised these topics thoroughly, so three hours of cramming before the exam at 1pm wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
“I feel completely victimised – everyone in the group chat had the same message sent to their phones yet it seems they’ve only chosen to penalise four or us.”