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Testing time - Thousands to sit GSAT today; students express confidence ahead of exam

Published:Thursday | March 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Students from St George's Girls' Primary and Infant School in Kingston got a break from their preparation for GSAT exams yesterday and posed for a picture.

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Some went to early-morning church services, some played their favourite games, others did last-minute pop quizzes and there were those who simply yearned for relaxation.

That's how thousands of students spent their time yesterday preparing for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) which will get under way this morning.

The students The Gleaner spoke with across the Corporate Area generally expressed confidence in their abilities to ace the five subjects they are required to sit over the next two days.

At the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School, where students were diligently completing a pop quiz, one young man expressed that he simply wanted to go home and get some rest.

"I am going home to relax and sleep so I can be well rested for the exam," said Deshaun Branford.

Branford said he believed he had done enough to secure a place at one of his top-two secondary schools of choice, Wolmer's Boys' School and Campion College.

"I am confident because I believe once you do the work, you can pass," the self-assured young man said.

For Dijounay Dennis, at the St George's Girls' Primary and Infant School on Duke Street, the high-school entrance exam is a lot more complex.

While expressing that she had no doubt in her ability to excel in the exam, Dennis said she was a bit fearful heading into the exam, as this would be her only chance to matriculate into a good high school.

"I am just a little scared. It's the one and only exam you can do to get into a high school of your choice and you just want to go and do your best and excel," stated the outspoken grade six student.

Her teacher, Janet Davids, explained that students are not normally the ones worried during the exams, until the results are out. She said parents and teachers are usually more concerned during GSAT sittings.

"Teachers and parents, we are the ones who are generally more nervous over the two days because we want them to do well. So it's important for us to stay calm for the children. The students normally become nervous when the results are back," Davids said.

It for this reason the educators we spoke with said they called in guidance counsellors and had counselling sessions for the students sitting the exams. They said it was important for the students to not be bombarded with the pressure from adults.

But yesterday's preparations for the exams were not restricted to only getting the students relaxed and prepared for the tests, there was also work being done at the schools to get the exam rooms ready for this morning's 8:30 start.

"We are now clearing the visual aids from the classrooms and organising the seating for the exams," said Dr Sharline Cole, vice-principal of Windward Road Primary and Junior High.

Cole said with some 196 students doing GSAT at the school, it was imperative for the administration to ensure all the relevant desks and materials were available.

The Ministry of Education has indicated that some 40,676, students are confirmed to sit the exam in 1,135 centres across the country, down from the 42,268 who sat the exam in 2013.

Last year, 28,562 of those students who sat the exam were placed in one of their preferred schools.

Students will be assessed in mathematics, social studies, language arts, science, and communication tasks. Today, they are expected to sit two of the five papers - math and social studies - and complete the next three tomorrow.

Members of the public with concerns can contact the student assessment unit in the ministry at 948-9281/922-5680, the chief education officer at 948-8715 or the deputy chief education officer at 948-9619.