Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) is investigating what it termed as an “underlying problem” that saw some candidates score zeros in the 2022 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examinations.
While releasing the examination results Friday at the President’s Office in Kampala, UNEB executive director, Dan Odongo, said some zero scores were recorded in many papers.
“One of those candidates decided to just copy out questions several times in one of the papers,” he noted.
He went on: “Another (candidate) wrote “Dear Mr Examiner. You are still wasting time on me when there are more serious candidates?”. After writing “Now listen to my story” he wrote a short poem starting with “I am the stone the builder refused….”.
The candidate then listed the names of some famous musicians and their songs.
“Apart from scoring zero, this performance could indicate an underlying problem,” pointed out Odongo.
He cited an example of a Biology subject whose performance has again dropped below the 2020 level where it had risen.
Examiners attributed this to candidates having problems in questions on Genetics, Ecology and applications of biological concepts to the environment, Classification and inability to deal with simple mathematical computations in Biology.
“As we have stated before, the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examination builds on the knowledge and skills assessed at UCE,” said Odongo.
He said it is designed to test candidates’ ability to comprehend and apply knowledge in new situations; demonstrate logical reasoning skills, ability to perform scientific experiments, interpret results and draw relevant conclusions.
“The questions set test the candidates’ ability to handle higher-order tasks such as descriptions, explanations, analysis, and evaluation which are expected at this level.”
The performance of candidates is reported using letter grades, and those candidates who scored grades A and B demonstrated high levels of knowledge of the subject matter and were able to handle tasks that required high-order skills.
“Their work in the practical examination papers also showed the ability to correctly use apparatus, record observations in a manner reflecting the accuracy level of the instruments used, and ability to use the data generated correctly to either plot graphs, or use the values obtained to substitute in a given formula to determine the required constants.”
According to Odongo, the candidates at lower levels demonstrated adequate basic mastery of the subject matter.
“Their performance was undermined by a misunderstanding of questions, and inability to describe, explain, interpret, offer logical arguments or illustrations and specific examples to qualify their answers.”
He said better answers were seen in parts of questions that are more direct.
“Some candidates rely on mnemonics in order to recall facts. In sciences, evidence of theoretical teaching with little practical experience given to the candidates was observed at many centres.”
As a result, he stated, candidates who performed poorly showed an inability to follow instructions and procedures during the practical examinations and failed to accurately record data or even make meaning of any of the data recorded.
“They had difficulty in writing the language of Chemistry using the correct chemical symbols and balanced equations. Whereas the skill of dissection is essential in Biology, some candidates did not carry out this task on the specimens provided as required by the questions but presented textbook drawings.”
According to UNEB, this may indicate the teachers in the schools where this happened may not have exposed the candidates to this skill that they will need should they, in future, have an opportunity to pursue Biological science-based courses.
“A detailed analysis indicating the salient areas of improvement, as well as areas of weakness, will be sent to centres in the Report on the Work of Candidates. Advice to teachers on how to address areas of difficulty will be given. Electronic versions of these reports will be sent through the school portals. Members of the public who may be interested will be able to purchase copies from the UNEB Publications Sales point at the Communications House in Kampala.”
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