Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Should schools set exam papers that are too difficult for their students?


When 19-year-old Nuraisha Quek was in Secondary4, she and her schoolmates fared so badly in their preliminary exams, her school had to moderate their scores.

This was to ease their chances of gaining entry into top-ranking junior colleges between January and March before the O-level results were released in February.

Her teachers shaved off four points from her initial 12. She also jumped from C6 to B3 for one science subject.

'The prelims are not a very good gauge as the standard is not pegged to the O-level one. But I'm very happy for myjuniors now that they don't have to depend on the prelims,' said the former student of a reputable girls' school whoeventually scored six points for her O levels.

From next year, the Education Ministry will scrap the provisional admissions exercise under which students usedtheir preliminary exam results to enter a JC.

There will be one admission in January.

As part of the move towards a single JC intake, exams were brought forward by a week in October, starting last year.

One consequence of this is extra classes during the June holidays at some schools to prepare for the earlier exams.

Will students now take their preliminary exam lightly as they don't depend on the results to enter JC?

As much as 91 per cent of students in a Straits Times poll earlier this year said they still intended to study hard fortheir prelims. Most said the latter would serve as a good dry run and gauge of how they would perform at the national exam.

Singapore Press Holdings Limited
1 June 2008

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