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By Latrishka Thomas

In light of the Covid-19 crisis, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has changed the structure of the exams, and this appears to be a welcomed move among students in Antigua and Barbuda.

In March, CXC announced that it would be pushing back the May/June exams and will only be grading students based on Multiple Choice questions and School Based Assessments (SBAs).

On Sunday’s Big Issues programme, student heads of a few secondary schools on the island shared their views on the two major changes.

Joshua Edwards, the Deputy Head Boy at Antigua Grammar School, said that his student body “prefers to have the exam in June/July because right now they are impatient and they would like to get the examination over with.”

 Deputy Head Girl at the Antigua Girls’ High School, Nathania Silston, shared similar sentiments saying that although students are not equally prepared “if it was put off to a later date, that might be too much of a delay because all students don’t have the same plan for after school.”

On the other hand, Nailah Matthew, Princess Margaret School’s Head Girl, said that her peers have mixed feelings on the matter, but “some are talking about graduation; if they are going to be able to graduate this year”.

The students said that anxiety is looming among them, particularly since they have to rely on the multiple-choice paper.

“For some subjects, the exam can be deemed manageable … but for other subjects like English A and English B where some multiple choice answers may be so similar, down to the bone … it’s just hard to choose from, and they are don’t think that they are as ready as everybody else, so they feel quite depressed,” Silston remarked.

Matthew ruminated on the fact that in the past, “some students in the Paper 1, might not do such a good job, but they would try to redeem themselves in the Paper 2.”

“That won’t be happening this year,” she said downheartedly.

Meanwhile, Foster Roberts, the Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School, disclosed that he has some major concerns about the June/July sitting of the exams.

“I don’t know if CXC would have taken into consideration the emotional stability of some of our students at the present time,” he said.

“They are not able to explain to us as stakeholders how that paper will be weighted to give it the kind of validity,” Roberts continued, questioning whether this year’s exam grades can be seen as equivalent to those of former years.

The Principal added that his concerns are so dire that if students had not registered for the exams already, he would have advised against it.

Mary Redman, Head of the Secondary School Teachers Union in Barbados also spoke at length about the same concerns especially noting that the structure of the exams “further disadvantages and discriminate against those children who had not been able to keep up with online teaching.”

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