The word that stumped high school students in end of year exams

More than 2,400 high school students have signed a petition after they didn’t understand a word in a senior year exam question.

Year 13 students in New Zealand underwent a History Causes and Consequences essay on Wednesday for their end of school exams.

They were given a question regarding a quote from Julius Caesar: “Events of importance are the result of trivial causes”, Stuff.co.nz reports.

The question asked students whether they agreed or disagreed with Caesar. They were also asked to put their argument into context with a relevant historical event.

New Zealand Year 13 students have been left confused by the word ‘trivial’ appearing in their end of school exams. Source: Getty Images (File pic)

However, many students have now signed a Change.org petition arguing the word “trivial” was “unfamiliar” and caused a lot of confusion. The students want the exam to be marked based on their interpretation of the word.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trivial as “of little worth or importance”.

A student identified only as John, who started the petition, wrote that students had to write the essay based on their own understanding of the word.

But many students had different understandings of what the word ‘trivial’ means – “meaning that the true potential of many students is going to be covered,” John wrote.

A statue of Julius Caesar in Rome, Italy. Source: Getty Images

“This petition is made for the government to recognise the true potential of the students and mark the essay based on the students’s own content and understanding of the event.

“Please do not feel threatened for this is only a petition to recognise the hard work and efforts put in by many across the country.”

New Zealand History Teachers’ Association Graeme Ball told Stuff.co.nz the language used in the questions should be “accessible to all”.

However, he added it’s “debatable” whether the students who sat the exam should have known what trivial means.

A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, who administer the end of school exams for students, said it’s expected students would understand the language used in the question.

She added no students would be penalised for misunderstanding the word.