2013 UTME: The pains and gains of JAMB’s Computer-Based-Testing (CBT)

JAMB LogoThe conduct of the 2013 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) had admixture of pains and gains for both the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the candidates who sat for the examination. Clement Idoko writes on the conduct of the 2013 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, concluding that there is need for more infrastructural base to support the conduct of the Computer Based Test (CBT).

This year’s edition of UTME was unique as candidates were presented with three test options-the traditional Paper Pencil Test, Dual-Based Test and Computer Based Test (CBT). The DBT and CBT, which are a novel introduction, were largely successful in spite of some challenges especially in the area of infrastructure.

Computer Based Test is the administration of an examination using a computer. This format is flexible in that the test can be taken at different times and in different locations. The CBT has been especially designed to provide the necessary atmosphere for the optimum performance of the candidates in terms of layout and simplicity of the question on the screen. Simply, moving from one question to another is achieved at the click of the Mouse or the movement of the “Arrow Keys”.

The Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Professor ‘Dibu Ojerinde had announced that a total of 1,735, 720 candidates applied for this year’s UTME as against 2012 which had 1,503,931 registrations. This represented an increase of about 13.35 per cent in the number of candidates who registered for the examination when compared with those of last year.

It is important to state that of this figure a total of 1,629,102 candidates applied for Paper Pencil Test (PPT), 15, 008 chose Dual-Based Test (DBT) and 91,610 candidates applied for the Computer Based Test.

Painfully, however, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, revealed that of the 1.7 million candidates that applied for the UTME, only 520, 000 candidates would be considered for admissions into tertiary institutions of their choices because of low carrying capacity of the available institutions.

Besides, most candidates who sat for the examination complained about poor results released by the Board. According to the first results of PPT and DBT released by the Board, a total of 127, 017 candidates scored below 160 that is the cut off mark for entrance into either Polytechnic or a College of Education. In the same vein, a total of 103, 489 scored between 160 and 169, which is also below the 180 cut off mark for Universities’ admissions.

Ojerinde, while announcing the release of the results of the Paper Pencil Test and Dual-Based Test conducted across the country and two foreign centres,  said over 80, 419 results of the candidates were withheld.

He had noted that out of this figure, the results of 68,309 candidates from various centres were undergoing further screening to ascertain their culpability, while results of 12,110 candidates have been withheld for possible disciplinary action.

However, Education Tribune gathered that the results of candidates withheld for the purpose of lack of biometric verification have been released. On the huge number withheld results, a source within the JAMB, disclosed that the release of the results was delayed because of late arrival of Biometric Machines that would aid the verification of candidates.

Then, some of the candidates who could not be verified on the day of the examination were listed by the invigilators in the affected examination centres and the list sent to JAMB Headquarters, Abuja for scrutiny.

Some of the affected candidates had protested the withholding of their results on the account of non-biometric verification, which they argued was not a fault of their but laxity on the part of examination officials.

Education Tribune also gathered that some other results of candidates withheld for further screening as a result alleged examination malpractices have been released. However, other serious cases are still pending as the Board said the exercise was a continuous process until final decision are taken.

One of the candidates who chose Dual-Based Test and sat for the examination in Minna, Miss Patience Ajogi, lamented that her results were still being withheld in spite of the fact that there was no reported case of examination malpractice in the hall where she sat for the test.

This brings to fore the importance of the CBT, as the release of its results is instantaneous. The CBT, which was earlier differed, was commenced on 18th May and will end on Saturday 1st June. The initial plan was for the CBT to take place a week to the other two modes so that results could be released almost the same day.

Ojerinde, had explained that the arrangement clashed with some of the West African Examination papers and that JAMB had to concede to putting forward the Computer Based Test which requires special ICT Centres.

The conduct of the Paper Pencil Test and Dual Based Test were marred with examination malpractices but Ojerinde said the CBT was introduced to resolve the challenges faced by examination bodies in the country.

Some universities with strong ICT Centres as well as ChamsCity, an ICT firm, were used by JAMB to conduct the CBT.  Over 400 candidates who chose the CBT mode sat for the 2013 UTME at ChamsCity, Abuja under the direct supervision of Prof. Ojerinde.

He had explained that Computer Based Test was introduced as part of the transformation going in the education sector. According to him, CBT method enables the candidates get their results quickly, reduce cost of conducting the examinations and eliminating malpractices. He added that it was in line with the commitment of the examination board to do everything possible to make sure that the best is given in the area of service provision to the candidates.

Minister for Education, Prof. Rufa’i, also monitored the CBT at ChamsCity Centre, Abuja during the examinations. She threw her weight behind the pilot programme, stressing that there was the need to secure a better future for the Nigerian child by giving them quality education services and providing necessary materials that measure with international standard.

Some candidates who sat for the CBT in Abuja commended JAMB for the initiative. They were happy they could access their results almost immediately unlike some of their peers who sat for the PPT and DBT and are yet to get their results. “I can tell you that the issue of examination malpractice is zero. This has to be encouraged if we have to move on as a nation,” one of the candidates said.

However, some others were unhappy that they did not take the examination at the same time, expressing fears about possible leakages of questions. “We have spent a lot of money on transport here and there. My only worry is that JAMB should see that there facilities are on ground to drive a system before embarking on it,” Mr. Chukwudi said.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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