Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Exercise accuracy in setting exams

Published:Tuesday | July 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM



The idea of a test (in this case, Primary Exit Profile) that demands reasoning and creativity from students is a good one. In fact, that, to my mind, was one of the main components missing from the just-concluded Grade Six Achievement Test. Unfortunately, it was left off when the Common Entrance Exam was replaced by GSAT.

However, the writers and those vetting the national exams for our children ought to exercise better due diligence and accuracy. I speak of an item on the mathematics sample paper that was presented by one of the ministry's officers on TVJ's 'All Angles' programme earlier this year. The presenter read an item that had to do with a "rectangular box".

Again, an article in The Gleaner, dated July 23, 2018, in referring to the same PEP examination, makes reference to a "rectangular fish tank".

Permit me to point out here that neither a box, a fish tank nor any container, for that matter, can correctly be described as being rectangular. The fact is that the word rectangle (gular) should only be used to define or describe a SHAPE - that is only two-dimensional - the square, circle and rhombus being other examples of shapes.

Containers such as the fish tank or a box that these officials were speaking of are really cuboids. These have at least some of their faces being rectangular in shape, but one would not accurately describe them as being rectangular in shape.

It would be greatly appreciated if the officers who are in charge of writing and/or vetting of these examinations, and their accompanying curricula, pay greater attention to these and other details, especially since at higher levels of education, extreme accuracy is demanded. It would not be fair to the candidates that they would have had to unlearn such knowledge.