Sunday,19 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)
Sunday,19 May, 2019
Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Testing times

More than half a million students start their secondary education final exams, reports Reem Leila


Testing times
Testing times

Thanaweya Amma exams, the nationwide tests grade 12 students must take to secure a place at university, kicked off on 3 June when more than 600,000 students sat Arabic and religion exams in 1,777 examination centres nationwide.

For the second year students will write their answers in the same booklet in which the questions are printed. Each booklet has its own serial number printed on the pages, making it easier to detect who is responsible should the questions be leaked.

During this year’s exams, which last until 1 July, security forces have been deployed at schools where exams are taking place.

Reda Hegazi, head of the Education Ministry’s sector for high school examinations, says “neither students nor invigilators are allowed to take mobile phones inside examination halls.”

Leaking of questions has caused problems in recent years. In 2017 the Ministry of Education was forced to cancel several exams after copies of exam papers were posted on social media platforms.

This year a student in Menoufiya photographed the Arabic exam paper on a mobile and sent it to his friends.

“The student was quickly identified as each exam paper has a serial number on it and the student photographed the exam paper with the serial number. It was not, however, a case of questions being leaked. Images of the paper were sent after the exam had begun and not in advance as has happened in previous years,” says Hegazi.

Reports that the Arabic exam had earlier appeared on a Facebook page called ChaoMing have been shown to be false. “What was published on the ChaoMing page was a copy of last year’s Arabic exam,” says Hegazi.

In 2015 a presidential decree criminalised the leaking of exam papers. Those found guilty can face a one year prison sentence and a fine of up to LE50,000.

Ministry of Education Spokesman Ahmed Khairi said the Arabic exam had been compiled with average students in mind and the “Ministry of Education’s operation room has received no complaints from parents or students about the difficulty of the exam.”

“We are all optimistic. I hope the rest of the exams will be as easy as Arabic,” said Thanaweya Amma student Nahed Ali who is sitting his exams at the Abdel-Nasser School in Giza and hopes to join a department of mass communication.

Pre-university education, long due an overhaul, will change in September. Mentors are being trained in the latest teaching, student assessment and data collection techniques and a new system will be applied in all schools except those which offer international certificates.

Students currently in the third preparatory stage and who enter grade 10 next academic year will no longer have to undergo the nerve wracking marathon that is Thanaweya Amma. Instead of a university place being determined by intensive testing at the end of their final school year it will depend on a final score accumulated over the last three years at school. Students will sit 12 exams for each subject they take, spread over the three years of secondary school. Their best grades in six exams will then be added up to determine the final score that secures university entrance.

The new system aims to lighten the psychological burdens inherent in the current Thanaweya Amma. “As it is now,” says Elham Khalil, the mother of a Thanaweya Amma student, “one wrong or incomplete answer to a Thanaweya Amma question can be catastrophic for the student’s future.”

“A point lower than the minimum grade required for a particular faculty and the student’s future dreams are shattered.”

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