New report reveals why candidates fail KCPE, KCSE exams

Class eight pupils from Golden Elite School in Kisumu county participate in prayer after their rehearsals ahead of the annual KCPE exams on October 31,2016. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

A new report gives tips on how to improve performance in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams (KCPE).

The report comes as more than one million candidates rehearse for KCPE papers today.

An analysis of past performance by the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) and the Ministry of Education shows key areas that candidates must prepare for and common mistakes to avoid as they sit the tests.

Use of sheng, failure to follow instructions, poor time management skills and rushing to answer before understanding the question’s context are among shortcomings that cost candidates, according to the Knec 2016 KCPE Examination report.

Its findings could be useful to this year’s 1,003,556 candidates who begin sitting the exam tomorrow to November 2.

The report prepared by the directorate of quality assurance and standards in the Ministry of Education notes some candidates do not read and follow instructions.

Others fail national examinations because they misunderstand and misinterpret the questions or are distracted by anxiety.

Show performance

The report was compiled to show performance of candidates between 2014 and 2016.

It further finds that some students failed some questions because of inadequate English language skills.

“Some students make use of ‘sheng’ in communication and written language,” reads the report.

Candidates sitting this year’s examinations have been advised to demonstrate their mastery of English language by reading and interpreting questions correctly before giving answers.

Poor command of English language among candidates may still affect a number of them as they prepare for the examinations starting tomorrow.

Mathematics, English language and Composition will be done on the first day of the examination.

Science, Kiswahili Lugha and Insha will be done on the second day of the examination.

The three-day examination is scheduled to end on November 2 with Science and Religious Studies papers.

Lowest grade

A Knec analysis report of last year’s performance shows that the student who posted the lowest grade in English composition largely used ‘mother tongue’ to answer the question.

The Knec 2016 KCPE Examination Report says that the candidates ‘hardly communicated anything’.

While writing English Composition examination, candidates have been advised to avoid simple mistakes such as wrong spelling, sentence construction, use of tenses and how to arrange paragraphs.

Knec says English Composition tests a candidate’s mastery of plot development as well as proficiency in the use of variety of linguistic structures and vocabulary.

This means that as candidates prepare for the examinations, they need to understand the topic and narrate an account that would leave the reader convinced that they understood the question.

Candidates will also sit English objective paper on day one. Knec report says that some students do not understand the English flow and tenses.

Under this area, candidates are required to choose suitable connectors to complete a passage.

The report says some students failed easy questions because they rushed to pick answers before understanding the passage context and flow.

Overall, Knec report says that the 2016 English composition declined in percentage mean from 41.38 in 2015 to 40.25 last year.

This translates to a mean reduction of 1.13 points. The general performance in English for the last four years reveals a fluctuating show by candidates.

Last year, for instance, objective questions posted a mean of 50.52 while composition had a mean of 40.25.

Percentage mean

In 2015, objective questions had a percentage mean of 49.98 while composition had 41.38.

This year’s candidates will also sit Mathematics paper tomorrow.

On mathematics paper, the Knec report says that last year’s candidates performed better in content area involving numbers and averages that in other areas of the syllabus.

However, they performed poorly in content areas involving reading and interpretations of tables.

“Like last year, more questions were set on numbers which is dictated by the large proportion on content than other areas in the syllabus,” reads the report.

This means that candidates must master how to solve problems under nine content areas.

These include numbers, measurements, geometry, money, algebra, graphs, tables, averages and percentages.

In 2015, the report says that candidates performed better in graphs and percentages and proportions.

Overall, male candidates performed better in last year’s mathematics paper with a mean score of 23.56 compared to female candidates who had a mean of 21.83.

Male candidates also had better spread in score distribution with a standard deviation of 9.69 compared to the female candidates who registered a standard deviation of 8.91.

However, there were slightly more male candidates than female who sat for the mathematics paper.

And both male and female candidates performed poorly in comparison to the previous year 2015.

Overall, the Ministry of Education report finds that the top most reason why students perform poorly in examinations is indiscipline.

Rehearsals for KCSE examinations are scheduled for November 3, with candidates expected to begin writing the exam on November 6 to November 29.