Gains and pains of JAMB’s Computer-based Test

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Ibadan | 26 March 2015 | 5,464 times

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The Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), in repositioning the system of how its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) is being conducted, in line with the demands of the information technology age, decided to abandon the traditional system and embrace the modern system.

For years, JAMB examinations were conducted through the paper pencil test (PPT). That way, candidates went into the examination centres with their writing and other relevant materials, and answered questions by indicating accurately on the spaces provided in the exam forms. Over time, this method was dropped, as JAMB candidates were given the opportunity to apply for different alternative modes to write their examination: either the (PPT) or computer-based test (CBT). Many students opted for the former, while a good number of them went for the latter. Their choices reflected their levels of computer knowledge.

But in accordance with the demands of information technology age, the traditional system became outdated. The need for prompt result checking was of utmost concern, among other advantages of the computer-based system. As a result, it became necessary to upgrade to CBT mode of examination.

Now the scenario has witnessed a total shift from the earlier practice when students waited till eternity before they get their results. With the current system, the anxiety and tension which students suffered after an exam had become a thing of the past. Now candidates receive results on their mobile phones after 24 hours, before they proceed to print the slip online. Interestingly, they do not have to even purchase scratch card to check their results on the Internet, as was used to be.

Of course, the candidates must have realised good reasons in their choice of the CBT mode, due to the fact that results are faster to release and prompt decisions are being taken on change of course or institution, in the case of students with low performance in their grade.

While this mode has its gains, no doubt, it elicits its pains along side. Taking a retrospective look into some of the anomalies which were keenly observed in the system, some were traceable to delay in the scheduled starting time; wrong course subject contrary to candidates' choice; inadequate computer system; sudden slash of time given to answer questions; slow response of available computers, etc.

Although JAMB had promised candidates could access their results, at least 24 hours after the examination, participants have expressed dissatisfaction over some hitches in the delay of their results. Different complaints and anxiety arose on the part of students. The most surprising was, some sets of students were able to get their results much earlier, before 24 hours; say 4-5 hours after the exam, while after five days some candidates of the same batch have not received theirs.

During checks, some participating students complained of unfavourable developments at their different examination venues.

Mariam Ahmed Olayinka, who sat for the CBT exam at the ICT Centre, The Polytechnic Ibadan, said she was slated to write her exam from 1:30 p.m., as stated on her slip, but her batch was called in at about 5pm – after about four hours delay. Her words: “We were supposed to start the exams at 1:30 p.m., but we started 5pm. We were given three and a half hours to finish up. But we spent two hours for the four papers. At exactly 7pm, while we were still on the computer, they asked us to stand up and leave the hall. We were shouting that we had not finished, but they went ahead to shut the server down. This is a sad moment for me and I am not happy about it. With this, I scored 185. I knew if I had done the last paper, mathematics, I would have scored more excellently."

Another candidate who sat for her exam at the ICT Centre of the University of Ibadan, Olaonipekun Ifeoluwa, said that JAMB officials and other invigilators monitoring the examination decided to shut down the server before time as it was getting dark. She added that some of the invigilators complained that they had children at home to go and cater for. Ifeoluwa also complained about the slow speed of the

computer systems available for the examination, which, she said, unnecessarily slowed down the candidates. “When you click on an answer for a particular question, it takes time before it responds to bring another consequent question. This poor process wasted much of our time."

Another student who wrote the exam at the ICT Centre, Emmanuel Boluwatife, observed that students at the centre were allowed only 45 minutes to write four papers, instead of 3 hours and 45 minutes given by the examination board.

He noted: “This could only be better if this exam could be retaken or cancelled. The CBT examination centre’s server was too slow and there was constant shut-down of the whole computers during the examination, due to drag in the network of the provided computers. I will prefer PPT mode for now, but at this level which the CBT mode is, I don’t have preference for it. I will prefer it only if it is improved."

Candidates unanimously called on the board to improve the system so as to effectively correct the noticeable lapses in the conduct of subsequent examinations.

•Photo shows Emmanuel Boluwatife.

Source: News Express

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