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WAEC to consider varying multiple-choice questions

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) is considering varying the options for multiple-choice questions among candidates to curb examination malpractices.

At a stakeholder seminar in Accra on Friday, it was established that collusion (instances where students exchange words, answer sheets and give signs while examination is ongoing) remained the highest form of misconduct among candidates, thereby threatening the credibility of certificates issued by the Council.

Registrar of WAEC, Dr Iyi Uwadiae told the Ghanaian Times that the option of re-ordering answers for individual candidates was likely to restore confidence in the examining body and allow for independent work amongst students.

“In an objective question, the tendency to ask is high unlike the essays sections where you need to give more explanation to a friend so this strategy will serve as an antidote such that by altering the options, it becomes difficult to cheat.

“In other words, for a same question, if the correct answer to mine is A, yours may be C so if you ask me and I tell you A, then you have failed the question. When students know that the positions of options are not the same, it will encourage independent work and promote credibility of our exams,” he said.

Though failing to give timelines on when the new strategy will take off, Dr Uwadiae indicated that once the board of the Council was satisfied with the proposal, especially considering the fact that it did not affect the performance of candidates, the scheme would be implemented.

Touching on measures in place to forestall inconsistencies in the upcoming West African examinations, the Registrar said, “we are prepared, we are on top of our game and fully prepared.”

According to him, the Council lost “colossal amount of money whenever there is a mishap in the conduct of our examination” and thus, it was determined to improve processes to maintain public confidence in its operations.

“Let us in the education sector join hands with WAEC to fight malpractice. Parents should talk to their wards to study and go to the hall with confidence which is key. Once you have that, what you have learnt will come out willingly.

Teachers should not give the impression that there is an alternative to pass, once we all collaborate, we will have successful examinations such that there may come a time that we won’t have to flood examination halls with invigilators,” he maintained.

Presenting findings of a research report that investigated the “effect of varying the position of options in multiple choice tests on performance of students in Senior High Schools in Ghana,” Head of Research, Accra Section of WAEC, Henrietta Asiedua Yarquah insisted that re-structuring the options was the way to go if WAEC was to control malpractices, maintain credibility and public confidence.

She pointed out that the adoption of the strategy would in no way affect the performance of students once they had studied and prepared well for examinations.

“It would encourage students to do independent work and ensure that outcomes were credible enough,” she stated urging the Council to “promote further collaborations with renowned examining bodies to keep abreast with modern trends of assessment.”    

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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