The first of a 2-part sitting of the biggest exam in the curriculum of Belizean primary school students – the Primary School Examinations (PSE) – took place today and over 7,500 primary school students faced the challenge of overcoming the first part of the nationwide exams, which included assessments in the English and Science subjects.
As soon as the youngsters had put down their pens and handed in their examinations sheets, Amandala sought some of the participants to find out just how difficult the two exams were.
Interestingly, most of the students whom we spoke to commented that the tests were somewhat easier than they expected and some even ventured to say that they had aced the exams and that they anticipated grades in the 80’s and 90’s.
Shena Reun, a student of Belize Elementary School, told us that she began preparing from the start of the year with the help of her mother so she wasn’t nervous going in to the exams. “For Science I think that maybe I will get an 84 [percent] and for English, maybe like 95 or 98 [percent]”, she speculated.
She remarked that there were only 2 questions that she found challenging while taking the Science exam.
Jonathan Alpuche from Holy Redeemer Primary School said that he did not consider the 2 exams difficult. He stated, “The Science was definitely the hardest one. The English was easier. I wrote a story from the perspective of a pencil because I enjoy doing creative writing.”
Alpuche noted that his mentors were mainly his teachers and parents and he expects to score in the 90’s for both exams.
Alice Marin, 13, also attends Holy Redeemer Primary School and she told us that despite the notion that the exams are normally challenging, she found them “doable”. “It wasn’t really challenging to the point where I felt like I couldn’t do it,” she said.
Marin explained that after her plentiful preparations, she expects to get good grades on both examinations and noted that she hopes to top the scores as her sister Aaliyah Marin did in 2011.
Rashida Santos, 12, from Queen Street Baptist Primary School, conceded that she is not versed in Creative Writing so she found that part of it challenging, however she said that the other parts were “not bad.”
Santos mentioned that with the help of her teachers, she has been preparing since Standard 5 and is looking forward to taking the other 2 upcoming exams which will be Math and Social Studies, and those exams will he held on May 5.
Lisa Claire, Itinerant Resource Manager at the Ministry of Education’s Examinations Unit, told Amandala that, notwithstanding concerns about last year’s dismal results, the Ministry’s hope is that this year’s results will be more positive than last year’s. She said, “Every year we [The Ministry of Education] hope that the results are more positive than the year before.”
According to Claire, the same exam format with the same table of specifications and context from last year’s exams was used this year and the results are expected to be in by the end of May after the scores of all the examinations are tabulated.
A total of 7,359 students participated in last year’s exams, and at that time, the average score in the English subject was 57.8% – with 295 students receiving Grade A, while the majority of students received a grade D, which is considered unsatisfactory.
In Math, the average score was 54.2% and 1,090 received Grade A, while 3,300 got Grade E, which is considered as a failure.
In the Social Studies section, there was a satisfactory average score of 67.2% last year, while students fared off best in Science with a Competent Grade Average of 70.9%.
A total of 7,610 participants – including 29 private candidates – sat Part 1 of this year’s PSE exams.