Understanding the Processes of the GCE Board

1.1 Syllabus requirements 

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. 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.    

1.2 Test Development (CTT and IRT)

1.2.1 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. 

1.2.2 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.  

1.2.3 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.

1.2.3.1 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.

1.2.3.2 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 a 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 proof reading 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.

1.2.3.3 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 the 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.

1.3. 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 centres to the reception and dispatch of scripts to marking centres, 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 then 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.