SSC students stumped by confusing question

Prajakta Joshi
Thursday, 15 March 2018

The question was ‘When crystals of copper sulphate are strongly heated, the residue obtained is ___.’ The options given for the answer were red, green, blue or colourless. However, the correct answer according to subject experts was white, but this option was not given, creating confusion among the students. 

PUNE: While Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) students of Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education might get bonus marks for Chemistry paper due to printing errors in the question papers, Secondary School Certificate (SSC) students were confused for a one-mark multiple choice question (MCQ) in Science & Technology - Paper I held on Wednesday.

The question was ‘When crystals of copper sulphate are strongly heated, the residue obtained is ___.’ The options given for the answer were red, green, blue or colourless. However, the correct answer according to subject experts was white, but this option was not given, creating confusion among the students. 

Pointing out this issue, a parent of a SSC student said the question was confusing, and also, the answer  is not available in the science textbooks. He said, “We know the answer is ‘white’ as it is given in one of the study guides. But the students were totally taken aback by the question as it was not rightly framed either. I think they were expected to write ‘colourless’ as the right answer, but if the Board feels that ‘white’ and ‘colourless’ are synonyms, then it is wrong again.”

Another student complained that she was so confused that she ended up writing ‘red’ as the answer, which is wrong. “Most of my friends were very confused and ended up writing ‘colourless’, or wrong answer,” the student stated.

One of the Chemistry moderators for the HSC at the State Board said the answer here would be ‘colourless’. “The actual answer to this question would be ‘white’. But as that option is not available, the nearest choice would be to go with ‘colourless’,” she said.

Prof Manisha Khaladkar, Head of Chemistry Department at College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) said the question was ambiguous. “When heated, the colour of the crystals of copper sulphate turns white. However, the question uses the words ‘strongly heated’. Now, only if the crystals are heated up to 250 degrees Celsius, the colour will be white. If they are heated at a temperature higher than that, it will turn black. Thus, the question itself is very confusing, and none of the options given in the paper are correct,” Khaladkar said.

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