How CXC Assesses Students

Criterion-Referenced Approach

CXC examinations are criterion-referenced. When setting standards or cut-off scores for each grade for Criterion Reference Tests, examiners are primarily concerned with whether or not candidates have reached established levels of mastery. They are interested in comparing examinees performance, not with other examinees in the group, but with the preset standard judged to be adequate for the award of particular grades.

Examiners therefore determine the competencies, abilities and skills that candidates must demonstrate in order to qualify for particular grades. They look for certain qualities in the examinees performance and use their judgment in so doing. This is not to say that the examiners completely ignore the general performance of the candidate population.

The examiners study the mark distributions and statistics on the examination; as a result, they sometimes decide to modify their original judgments, but they do not make grade decisions based firstly, or primarily, or solely, on specific percentages of candidates attaining at each grade or on the number of standard deviations candidates' scores lie above or below the mean.

The critical question is - Has a candidate demonstrated a given level of competence allowing the examiner to state with some degree of certainty that the candidate has attained the minimum standard required for a particular grade?

Standard Setting

Preliminary grade cut-off scores are specified at paper development. Subsequently, in a validation process, which takes place at the end of the marking exercise and during the grading exercise, the quality of candidates’ performance and scores are compared across adjacent years and sittings, and the preliminary cut-off scores may be adjusted. This is done in order to ensure that the objectively defined standard (that is, level of competence) connoted by each grade is maintained across time.



The Six-Point Grading Scheme

The six-point grading scheme reports on the performance of the candidate under six overall and profile grades as follows:

Overall grades - I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Profile grades - A, B, C, D, E, F

Recognition of CXC examinations and certification

CXC examinations and certification are accepted regionally and internationally.

Entry to Tertiary Institutions

Regional Universities, tertiary institutions and external educational institutions in Canada, the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) have accepted CSEC and CAPE certification for matriculation and entry level programmes, based on the institution's requirements for a particular course of study.

The University of the West Indies and University of Guyana will accept six CAPE Units for normal matriculation.

The UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC), the only body which advises universities on entry qualifications has also recommended six CAPE Units for general entry requirements to British higher education institutions.

Today, the CAPE qualifications are treated similarly to UK Advanced level qualifications.  Recently, the Council has engaged in collaborative discussions with US-based Universities in an effort to align CAPE programmes with the entry level programmes offered by these universities and also with a view to students receiving credits and exemptions in selected subject areas.

On achieving certification of certain cluster of subjects, students can use several combinations of these subjects for optimal opportunities in choosing specific areas of study.