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Understanding the Processes of the GCE Board

Syllabuses play a key role in assessment of GCE examinations. Syllabuses are often provided in paper form or online. They give an outline and summary of topics to be covered in an examination, or a training course.

When the outline covers an examination, it is referred to as an Examination syllabus and when it covers a Training course, it is called a Teaching syllabus.

Syllabus requirements 

A syllabus usually contains specific information about the course. It also provides an outline of what will be covered in the course. The booklet bearing regulations and syllabuses of the GCE Board, June 2009, has adopted a standard form of presentation.    

Test Development (CTT and IRT)

Overview

Testing is the heart of the GCE Board. It takes a considerable amount of time to run through this exercise. It comprises several interrelated processes. Effective testing requires a systematic, detailed-oriented approach based on sound theoretical principles.

A question is a task (cognitive or psychomotor) requiring a response. Examination questions take different forms depending on the purpose for which are intended.

They may be essay, structural/supply, multiple choice (MCQ) or practical type. When constituted in a question paper, they became to tool used in investigation whether a candidate effectively acquired the target skills and competences during the period of study. 

Question Moderation

Subject Officials (Assessors, Chief/assistant Examiners & some experienced Examiners ) are invited to converge at the Board for a period of 3-5 days in an exercise that is known as ‘Question Moderation’.

Using the raw test items form the examiners, the subject panels now systematically constitute the different question papers for each subject. Subject panels may be required to produce two or three sets of each paper of a subject depending on the state of the question bank for that subject.

Each of the question paper is developed following the specifications that are indicated on a Test Blueprint or Table of Specification (TOS). A test Blueprint is a tool that ensures appropriate balance between the content and the abilities to be tested in each question paper.

The proposed marking guides are also prepared at the stage. Manuscript Drafting Sheets (MDS) are essentially used to constitute the raw test items into complete question papers.  

Question Typesetting.

Question for each subject and paper are then submitted to the Division of Technical Services by the Examination Officers for typesetting and formatting into the Cameroon GCE Board standard format. This exercise is necessary only for the questions that were received in hard copies.

The Board is gradually insisting, the subject officials should submit soft and hard copies of the question papers so that in the near future, this step will be completely eliminated in the test preparation process at the GCE Board.

Pre-Testing (MCQ)

Pre-testing involves administering moderated test items to be sample group of candidates similar to the population for the final examination. It is a process of testing the test to collect data for use in determining how well the test measures the construct of interest. Pre-testing is also referred to as:

  • Field testing
  • Pilot testing
  • Trial-testing

The GCE Board carries out pre-testing of all the Multiple Choice Question (MCQs) or test items used in its examinations. MCQs are only used for all “Paper 1” components of the examinations.

Question Proof-reading.

After some time (say five months) the subject panels are again invited to come and work on the questions in an exercise that is Christened as ‘Proof Reading’.

During this stage of the work, the subject officials do final scrutiny of the questions to ascertain that they are good quality questions for future use as an examination. A period of time is given between question moderation and proofreading in order to mitigate the effects of tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision effects occur when your familiarity with the content of a text or subject matter blurs your alertness to the errors and other weaknesses inherent in the text.

Banking (Paper set/Group Banking, Item Banking)

An item bank is a collection of test items that may be easily assessed for use in preparing examinations. Use of an item bank and a good item banking software is a solution to the effort and expense of preparing new items for each administration of an assessment.

With a good item bank, where items are indexed according to their class of knowledge and their psychometric characteristics, items are easily retrievable for use in an assessment. An excellent item banking system also provides automation and standardization essential to developing and maintaining effective tests.

However, item banking at the GCE Board is synonymous to question storage, where:

  • Moderated items when vetted, are compiled into full examination paper and kept along with their corresponding tables of specifications. A recording is then kept, both in hard and soft forms, of the number of question sets per subject in the bank.
  • Considering that many sets are moderated and proofread each year, questions are kept in the bank long enough to cure/mature before they are administered. A period of three (3) years is usually required for any questions put in the bank in the bank to mature before they can be used as a live examination.

Test Administration 

  • It is a process whereby the testing Body (GCE Board) provides a favorable atmosphere for obtaining good responses from testees.
  • It also validates a rigorous and meticulous procedure which spans from the creation of registration and accommodation centers to the reception and dispatch of scripts to marking centers, and eventual publication of results.
  • Supervisors are appointed and briefed on the conduct of the GCE examinations. Invigilators are however appointed by Principals of School and Chief of Centers.
  • Here is a superintendent appointed by the Registrar for each of the schools where the examination is conducted.
  • Where candidates are more than 1000, an assistant superintendent is appointed. Superintendents are deployed to schools other than those where they teach.

This practice is a security measure to check on the Board’s property and its security. The ensuring reports serve as a quality control measure on the entire exercise.

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Policy and Examination Management

The GCE Board is committed to ensuring that the Policy and Examination Management and administration process is run effectively and efficiently and in compliance with the published regulations and awarding body requirements.

The Role of the Representative/Coordinator from the GCE Board.

He/She shall oversee the conduct of the examination in the field. The Representatives/Coordinators in charge of an area, the Regional Delegates of Secondary Education assisted by the Divisional Delegates of Secondary Education shall collaborate for the smooth conduct of the Examinations within their jurisdiction. In addition to the above, they shall each in their own area.

Procedure to Recover lost Cameroon GCE Certificates

  1. Oversee the distribution of question papers and reception of scripts form Accommodation Centres;
  2. Ensure the proper conduct of the examination;
  3. Conduct sporadic checks of question paper envelopes supplied to any Accommodation Centre with the view to determining whether or not supplied question paper envelopes are intact;
  4. ascertain whether or not storage facilities for question paper envelopes in the Centres under their charge are adequate;
  5. Follow up on the movement of scripts, ensuring that the right channels are respected viz:

Accommodation Centre (R) Liaison Officer (R) Reception point (R) Marking Centre.

Where necessary, effect modifications of the appointment of Superintendent and notify the Registrar of such modifications. Such modifications must be validated by a decision of the Registrar.

The Role of the Superintendent

A. APPOINTMENT OF SUPERINTENDENTS

He/She shall be:

  1. appointed by the Registrar of the Cameroon GCE Board.
  2. responsible to the Registrar for the proper administration of the examination of the Accommodation Centre.
  3. assisted in his/her duties by the Chief of Centre, and Invigilators, in that descending order of hierarchy.

Creation of GCE Registration and Accommodation Centres.

B. ROLE

The Superintendent, who is the direct Representative of the Registrar of the Cameroon GCE Board, shall ensure the proper conduct of the examination. In that capacity, he/she shall:

  1. request from the Chief of Centre any challanges necessary for the smooth running of the examination.
  2. properly inspect the room (including the ceiling) in which the question paper envelopes and answer booklets are stored, and ensure that the area is very secure (not porous) for the safety of the examination materials.
  3. report to the Registrar, by the fastest means possible, any incident needed the immediate attention of the Registrar.

C. SPECIFIC DUTIES

Facilities at Accommodation Centre; On arrival, the Superintendent shall make a report on the state of facilities available for the examinations in his/her Accommodation Centre.

Electronic Albums of Candidates of Accommodation centres: In collaboration with the Chief of Centre request for the electronic Albums of candidates from feeder centres and lodge them at the Accommodation Centre.

D. PRE-EXAMINATION MEETING

The Superintendent shall, in collaboration with the Chief of Centre, organised a Pre-Examination meeting with all the officials of the Accommodation Centre (Chief of Centre and Invigilators). He shall ensure that:

  1. The Specific Regulation on the conduct for the said year is read in their entirety.
  2. The regulations governing the examinations found in the current regulations and syllabuses for General Education subjects, especially section 2 relating to examination malpractice are read out as well.
  3. An attendance for the Pre-Examination meeting should be established and invigilating exercise, and subsequently barred from participating in GCE Board activities.
  4. This Specific Regulations MUST be made available to invigilators by the Chief of Centre for consltation at all times.

E. COLLECTION OF EXAMINATION QUESTION PAPER PACKAGES.

The Superintendent shall together with the Chief of Centre collect question paper packages from the GCE Board, the Regional Officer or Liaison Officer. They shall act as custodians of the Question paper packages during their journey to the Accommodation Centre and during the entire period of the examinations. Both of them shall also put the Questions in the safe and treat the keys as indicated in 2.1.3.7 below.

F. UNSEALING AND OPENING OF CARTONS/PARCELS CONTAINING QUESTION PAPER PACKAGES.

 The Superintendent together with the Chief of Centre shall,

  1. unseal and open t he cartons/parcels containing question papers envelopes and the Consignment Note indicating the number of Envelopes and the candidates for each paper.
  2. immediately report all cases of shortages, surpluses and stray envelopes to the GCE Board office Buea, the GCE Board Regional Office Bamenda or the Liaison Office serving the Accommodation centre.

G. QUESTION PAPER ENVELOPES

The Superintendent shall work together with the Chief of Centre to arrange the envelopes containing question papers and Attendance Registers in the order in which the examination will take place.

The arrangement should be such that Question paper envelopes coming first on the timetable are placed at the top and those for the last days at the bottom. 

MCQ Anser Sheets shall arrive as part of the consignment of Question Papers. These shall be stored separately.

H. STORAGE OF THE QUESTION PAPERS AND SCRIPTS

The Superintendent shall ensure the safe storage of Question paper envelopes and Scripts by the use of a safe with two locking system (in-built and padlock). the safe should be located in a strong room.

All the keys of the in-built lock of the safe shall be kept by the Chief of Center and all the keys of the padlock must be kept by the Superintendent who shall provide the padlock.

Both the Superintendent and the Chief of Centre shall be present at every instance when question paper envelopes are taken out from the safe. Proper care shall be taken by double-checking to ensure that only the correct Questions for the day have been taken out of any one time.

Check the envelope cover label to be sure that the question paper envelopes taken out are the correct ones for that day and time.

Where replacement questions are received from the Board, the Superintendent and the Chief of Centre should take out the old question paper envelopes from the safe before placing the new ones.

Special Reports

The Superintendent shall write a Special Report using the Special Report Form B/G/T13 wherever necessary.

Security

The Superintendent shall work in collaboration with elements of the forces of law and order present at the Centre, and assist in investigations, and request identification of anybody claiming to be a security agent or mandated by the Board.

In collaboration with the Chief of centre, he/she shall ensure that any impostor apprehended should be handed over to the forces of law and order (police or Gendarme or authorized local security officers).

checking-in of Candidates

 The Superintendent(s) shall supervise the checking-in of candidates by the invigilators for each session (morning and afternoon) of the examination, handle all cases of candidates with doubtful identities and Individual Time-tables, and then make Special Reports using Form B/G/T13 accordingly. 

Where the Superintendent uses his/her discretion to allow a candidate to sit for an examination, he/she should inform the candidate that such acceptance does not necessarily imply acceptance by the Board.

Cases of Misconduct

The Superintendent shall make sure that all cases of misconduct or irregularity by the candidate (s), invigilator (s), or by the candidate (s) in collusion with invigilator (s) are reported using the Special Report Form B/G/T13 in 2 copies.

The Superintendent must ensure that one copy of the report is enclosed with the scripts (not stapled to the script) by the Invigilators at the time of parceling and that another copy (advanced copy) is made available for immediate dispatch to the Registrar.

The script with the Special Report should not be forwarded with the advanced copy to the Registrar but kept with the rest of the scripts.

Handling of Pre-prepared Material

If the misconduct involves the introduction of notes, text-books, pre-prepared materials, etc., into the examination hall, the confiscated documents should be forwarded along with all other scripts and the special report form B/G/T13.

The Candidate Identification Number

As well as the subject code and name should be indicated on the confiscated documents. See section 2.7.6 of the General Regulations of the General Certificate of Education Examinations. It is recommended that the candidate admits the misconduct in writing.

Grave Misconduct

In the case of grave misconduct on the part of an Invigilator, the Superintendent, in consultation with the Chief of Centre shall advise the Invigilator to withdraw. 

However, he/she should not normally do the same in the case of grave misconduct by a candidate, since it is the prerogative of the Examinations Executive Committee to pronounce a sanction.

Exceptional circumstances which might force such a step should be treated in consultation with the Chief of Centre.

 Special Report on Scripts

The Superintendent shall ensure that the scripts in each Examination Room/Hall are collected and arranged in the order in which they appear on the Attendance Register. Scripts should be put in envelopes, labeled, and sealed before they are taken out of the Examination Room/Hall.

The Role of the Chief of Centre.

Chief of Centres of the GCE Board examinations, working in close collaboratin with the Superintendent, have the responsiblility to ensure the proper conduct of the examinations at their Accommodation Centres. in addition, the Chief of Centre is charged with the general discipline, security and cleanliness of the Accommodation Centre.

SPECIFIC DUTIES

Safe and Strong Room: The Chief of Cenre shall ensure the availability of a safe or Strong Room of suitable size and location for the proper storage of question paper packages and scripts. the safe or strong room should have an in-built lock and facilities for locking with padlock (s). He must not hesitate to alert the Board in an adverse situation.

Facilities at the Accommodation Centre 

The Chief of Centre shall arrange suitable facilities for the Accommodation Centre:

  1. Arrange for the provision of desks in the Examination rooms/halls in order to comfortably sit TWO candidates per DESK  of 2 metres or ONE CANDIDATE per DESK of less than 2 metres.
  2. Ensure that sitting positions carry candidate identification numbers and that this numbering strickly follows the order on the Attendance Register, (AR).

The Role of the Invigilator

ROLE

The Invigilator oversees the writing of the examination by being present in the examination hall/room throughout the duration of each paper. He distributes answer booklets, question papers to candidates and collects and parcels in worked scripts.

SPECIFIC DUTIES

Personnel of the Ministry of Secondary Education who decline participation in invigilation are doing so in defiance of Article 74 of the Prime Minister’s Ored Nº 112/CAB/PM of 12th October 1993.

Pre-Examination Meeting 

Invigilators must participate in the Pre-Examination meeting to be presided at by the Superintendent and the Cheif of Centre, and make sure their names are on the attendance list of the meeting.

Punctuality 

Invigilators should arrive at the Centre one hour before the time scheduled for each paper in order to prepare the acquaint themselves with the examination rooms/halls assigned to them.

Numbers of Desks/Tables 

He/She should write the Identification Number of each candidate on his/her sitting position using the subject Attendance Register (AR) before the candidates are checked-in. this must be done each time and competed 30 minutes before the commencement of each session of the examination.

Required Materials 

Invigilators should collect adequate quantities of all the materials as indicated on the front cover of each question paper envelope from the Chief of Center, before the commencement of each paper. consult section 11.0 on the USE of WRITING MATERIALS.

Attendance and Attendance Register 

Invigilators should check-in the candidates using the Attendance Register as was used for the numbering of the desks/tables. 

He/she must ensure that only registered candidates are admitted into examination room(s)/hall(s), [Registered Candidates are those candidates whose names appear on the Attendance Register and who are in possession of an Individual Timetable (IT) belonging to them].

Any doubtful cases must be referred to the Chief of Centre/Superintendent. See article 3.10 on checking in of candidates.

Individual Timetables (ITs) and Identification of Candidates

Take great care to ensure that the person presenting himself/herself for each paper of the examination is indeed the person registered. His/Her appearance should be identical with the photographs on the individual timetable (IT) and the National Identity Cared (for external Candidates) or School Identity Card (for internal candidates).

The name, date of birth, and photocopy on the Identity Card and IT should be identical. The Identity Card and IT should be examined for signs of mutilation. when in doubt, consult the electronic Album of Candidates available in the Accommodation Centre.

Impersonation

In order to avoid a candidate writing for another, meticulously check the Identity Card and the Individual Timetable of each candidate to ensure that there is no impersonation be vigilant to decipher fraudulent ITs and National Identity Card (NIC) receipts and Certificates of Loss. (Forward photocopies of Certificates of Loss to the Board).

Pre-Prepared Material

Once all the candidates have been checked into the examination room… (To be continued)

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Creation of GCE Registration and Accommodation Centres.

The creation of GCE Registration and Accommodation Centres is the prerogative of the Registrar. He works in close collaboration with the departmental Head (DRE/DRTS) and Examination Officers.

Creation of GCE Registration and Accommodation Centres.

The creation of new GCE Examination centres and Accommodation centres starts with the reception and processing of the requests (application forms) from the interested schools.

The staff of the Board is deployed on the field to inspect the structures and ascertain the state of readiness of the schools. Some of the items to be inspected include;

  • Location of Accommodation centre in relation to settlement and security
  • Number of security guards available (temporal and permanent)
  • Accessibility to candidates and officials (read network)      
  • Accommodation of candidates
  • Staff strength
  • Conduciveness (effect of neighboring activities on examination)
  • Conformity of safe to GCE Board standards and specifications.

Registration of Candidates

It is the contracting link between the GCE Board and the candidates who intend to sit for any examinations organized by the Board (GCE General, GCE Technical; Ordinary and Advanced Levels, Baccalaureat Technique and related examinations in English, Foreign Examination – LCCL, IPED etc).

Evidence of this link are the contracting documents issued to candidates by the Chiefs of Centres – individual Timetable are Receipts.

There are also essential documents which are provided by the Board, to guide Chiefs of Centre with the registration exercise.

These are:

  • Procedure for Registration (A5)
  • Duties of Chief of Centre (A8)
  • Instructions to Candidates (B/G/T1)
  • Candidates Registration Form (B/G/T3)
  • User Manual for E-registration.

Registration Centres 

Pre-Registration

  • They are approved collection points for registration fees,
  • A registration software CD, is handed to the Chief of Registration Centre at a Coordination meeting organized by the Board, involving Board Staff, Liaison officers and Chiefs of Centres. Registration procedures are spelt out in these meetings.
  • Prior to this, the Technical Service of the Board is called upon to simulate the registration software program in order to render it user friendly (in-house)

During Registration

  • Candidates are instructed to present themselves in person before he registration officer.
  • The Chief of Centre is mandated to issue Registration Receipt/Timetable to candidates immediately after registration.
  • All correspondences from candidates are channeled through  the Chief of Centre to the Registrar of the Board.

Post Registration  

it involves, the reception of registration materials at the GCE Board Head Office Buea, Bamenda Regional Office, and by liaison officers.

  • Assembly of registration materials at the Head Office.
  • Holding of preparatory meetings by the Division of Examinations (DE) and Division of Technical Services (DTS) on the treatment of registration files.
  • Sorting registration flash pens and immediate transmission to the Division of Technical Services for data capture.
  • Serene checks of the registration materials by secretariats workers under the supervision of Board staff.
  • Transmission of draft candidates list (B/G/T2s) to the Division of Technical Service (DTS) for corrections to be effected.
  • Printing and dispatch of B/G/T2s to Registration Centers, for Candidates to check and confirm their entries.
  • Challenges
  • Flash pens could be mixed up with other registration materials thus rendering them difficult to trace.
  • Incomplete registration data noticed in some flash pens.
  • Conflicting data on some registration documents.
  • Parallel birth certificates with conflicting information.
  • difficulty in equating some forien qualifying documents wih ours, for those candidates whiching to sit in for the GCE Advanced Level.

Types of Accommodation Centres

  • Practical
  • Writing Accommodation Centres.

Practical Accommodation Centres

  • Subject to inspection by National and Regional Pedagogic Inspectors recommended by Inspector Coordinator of Science and endorsed by the Board.

writting Accommodation Centres

  • Subject to inspection by Board Staff to ascertain security, accessibility and adequate accommodation facilities etc.
  • May host more than ONE Registration Centre (feeder centre) 

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