March 19, 2010
Record number takes CSEC Exams

The number of candidates sitting the 2010 January Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations more than doubled, with some 54,866 candidates writing the examinations compared with 26,093 in 2009.{{more}}

Subject entries also increased significantly, with 76, 899 subject entries received this year, compared with 43, 873 in 2009.

The increase was due mainly to a change in policy in Trinidad and Tobago; where the Government took a decision to pay the fees of all private candidates to write CXC examinations.

Performance declined in nine of the 12 subjects offered in January, while improvements were made in the other three subjects, when compared with performance in 2009.

While the overall performance percentage declined by three percent, the actual number of candidates achieving acceptable grades at the higher end of the scale increased in several of the subjects.

In 2009 when there were 43, 873 subject entries, 55 percent of entries achieved acceptable grades – Grades I to III, and this year with 76, 899 subject entries, 51 percent of the entries achieved acceptable grades.

The three subjects with improved performance were Chemistry, Human and Social Biology and Information Technology.

For Chemistry, 41 percent of the entries achieved acceptable grades, compared with 37 percent in 2009. Despite the improvement, the Examining Committee said Organic Chemistry remains a major weakness on the Chemistry paper.

Human and Social Biology saw a nine-percentage point improvement, with 54 percent of the entries achieving Grades I to III, compared with 45 percent in 2009. Information Technology, which declined last year, rebounded this year with a seven-percent improvement. Sixty-four percent of the entries achieved Grades I to III, compared with 57 percent in 2009.

Noting the improved performance on questions dealing with Database Management, the Examining Committee for Information Technology listed five areas of weak performance. These are Binary Mathematics, User Interfaces, Problem-Solving and Programming, Spreadsheet and Database Management.

Spanish returned the best performance overall, even though there was a decline when compared with 2009. Seventy percent of entries achieved acceptable grades this year, compared with 75 percent last year.

Most of the Examining Committees reported a general lack of preparedness of candidates.

The Principles of Accounts Committee stated that candidates were “not adequately prepared,” and suggested that candidates “utilize the resources available, including the POA Study Guide and past examination papers.” The latter was also recommended by the Social Studies Examining Committee.

Performance in Biology this year declined significantly, compared with previous years, and the Examining Committee identified four topics which candidates were particularly weak on. These are Fruit and Seed Dispersal, Plant and Animal Cell Structure, Adaptations to the environment and Physical factors of the environment.

Further, the Committee expressed the view that while candidates may know some of the material, “they could not effectively utilize their knowledge.”

Mathematics, with 22, 354 entries, saw a decline in performance this year. However, the Committee noted that candidates showed good proficiency in Computation, Set theory, Consumer Arithmetic and Investigations, but “performed poorly on Relations, Functions and Graphs, Trigonometry and Geometry, Vector and Matrices and Measurement.”

English A had the largest number of candidates registered, some 23,062. There was a marginal decline in performance; 55 percent of entries achieved Grades I to III, compared with 59 percent in 2009. The Examining Committee has recommended that “efforts to improve the skills of teachers in the teaching of English must be ongoing.”