Join us to discuss the ability of generative AI to pass exams on 4th December at 2pm GMT

CC-licensed exam image from

How good is generative AI at passing exams? What does this tell us about how we could design better assessments? Join us on Monday 4th December at 2pm GMT (UTC) to discuss a paper on this by Joyce Mahon, Brian Mac Namee and Brett Becker at University College Dublin published at UKICER earlier this year. [1] From the abstract:

We investigate the capabilities of ChatGPT (GPT-4) on second level (high-school) computer science examinations: the UK A-Level and Irish Leaving Certificate. Both are national, government-set / approved, and centrally assessed examinations. We also evaluate performance differences in exams made publicly available before and after the ChatGPT knowledge cutoff date, and investigate what types of question ChatGPT struggles with.

We find that ChatGPT is capable of achieving very high marks on both exams and that the performance difference before and after the knowledge cutoff date are minimal. We also observe that ChatGPT struggles with questions involving symbols or images, which can be mitigated when in-text information ‘fills in the gaps’. Additionally, GPT-4 performance can be negatively impacted when an initial inaccurate answer leads to further inaccuracies in subsequent parts of the same question. Finally, the element of choice on the Leaving Certificate is a significant advantage in achieving a high grade. Notably, there are minimal occurrences of hallucinations in answers and few errors in solutions not involving images.

These results reveal several strengths and weaknesses of these exams in terms of how generative AI performs on them and have implications for exam design, the construction of marking schemes, and could also shift the focus of what is examined and how.

We’ll be joined by the papers lead author Joyce, who will give us a lightning talk summary of her paper to start our discussion. All welcome, as usual we’ll be meeting on zoom details at


  1. Joyce Mahon, Brian MacNamee and Brett A. Becker (2023) No More Pencils No More Books: Capabilities of Generative AI on Irish and UK Computer Science School Leaving Examinations. In The United Kingdom and Ireland Computing Education Research conference (UKICER 2023), September 07–08, 2023, Swansea, Wales UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 7 pages. DOI: 10.1145/3610969.3610982