How does CXC grade your exam papers ?

Submitted by Kathy-ann Daniel on 8 August 2009 - 12:07am

So really, how does CXC grade your exam papers?

As everyone who sat CXC exams this year bites their nails and waits nervously for results to "come out", an interesting discussion has come up. How, exactly, does CXC decide what grade a student receives?

Some people suggest that CXC grades on a normal or bell curve, for those who are not sure what this means, I direct you to an explanation here.

My problem with this, is that grading on a bell or normal curve been discredited a looong time ago. Not only that, CXC on its website describes, "performance standards" that students must attain in order to get a grade 1, 2, 3 or whatever. Now, in the jargon or lingo of education, once you say, "performance standards", you are talking about criterion-referenced testing.

For those of you who are not sure what criterion referenced testing is, you can get the background here.

Basically then, when CXC says there are "performance standards" you must meet to get a grade 1, it means that you are not being graded against other students who are sitting the exams at the same time as you. Rather, you are being graded against a 'standard' set by CXC for grade 1, 2, 3 and so on.

As CXC shows it, to get the grade, you must meet the standard. On their website they say:

  • GRADE I: Candidate shows a comprehensive grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies
    required by the syllabus.
  • GRADE II: Candidate shows a good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies
    required by the syllabus.
  • GRADE III: Candidate shows a fairly good grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and abilities
    required by the syllabus.
  • GRADE IV: Candidate shows a moderate grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies
    required by the syllabus.
  • GRADE V: Candidate shows a limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies
    required by the syllabus.
  • GRADE VI: Candidate shows a very limited grasp of the key concepts, knowledge, skills and competencies
    required by the syllabus.

You will notice that I have underlined the key words for each grade. These are the only words that change in describing the performance for each grade. Check it for yourself: all the other words are the same.

So, according to CXC, the difference between a grade 4 and a grade 1 is how much the examiners believe you understand the subject.

This, people, is criterion-referenced testing. And it means that your grade is not connected in any way to what other people do in the exam. It is connected to how well you perform, relative to the tasks set in the exams.

The way I see it, win, lose or draw, the only person who affects your grade is you. I don't know if this is comforting news to anyone, but at least I hope it helps those students who are spending too much time comparing themselves to "the bright one in de class". News flash: "wha' dey get, ain' ha' nuttin' tuh do wid you".

De results man!!!

On another note, I wish success to all those students who are awaiting results. I know the waiting is hard... but it is almost over. In two weeks, results will be released and you can start preparing for the next phase of your life.

Don't forget, the CXC exam results have to go first to your local Ministry of Education, which will want to collect data for statistics from them. Then they will go to your schools, which will keep them for a day or two to collect data as well, before you finally receive them.

So, for many of you, you will not get your results on the 17th of August. You can expect that you may get them a week or even 2 weeks after that. Sorry if I am bearing bad news, but at least you will be prepared for the wait.

Good luck everyone!


Wendy (not verified) 15 August 2019 - 3:31pm

If you got a B for knowledge, D for comprehension and reasoning is that a grade 4. I thought you could get at least a grade 3 . Explain how this is grade 4.

Wendy (not verified) 15 August 2019 - 3:39pm

Would it be possible when you fail to find out the areas that you fell short in so you can work harder on these areas in order to pass next time. Also is it pissible to make a mistake by either making a mistake when marking the paper or typing in the wrong grade by mistake. Are the papers checked more than once and the grades being typed in and rechecked for errors.

Wendy (not verified) 15 August 2019 - 4:49pm

If you want to resit an exam can you get your paper rechecked just to make sure you fail and that it was no mistake.This is for the 2020 maths exams next year. Could i can a response before the ending of August because that would be sooo great

guest (not verified) 16 August 2019 - 8:27pm

I did paper 2 in Family resource management but i did not get to do paper1 due to mix up date...when i check the results it says Absent how's that possible when i only miss paper1

lalanie (not verified) 16 January 2020 - 8:30pm

if u get an average of 55% in ur sba and 55 in cxc what grade is this?\

soso (not verified) 22 July 2020 - 2:11pm

hiya nice people! quick question. how much is the sba in math worth now as with the whole covid thing? and anyone know if their gonna kill us with grading cuz im pretty stressed as is that i cant get my paper 2

If your CXC CSEC exam consists of 3 papers 1) multiple choice paper, 2) short answer/essay paper and 3) School Based Assessment (SBA),  you would have to do well on at least 2 of the 3 papers to pass the exam.

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