WAEC Grading System: Of 7As Confusion and Matters Arising

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It is well known that any candidate who scores 7As in the West Africa Senior High School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) is verily seen to be a brilliant student society.

At times, prizes may trickle down and those that were able to make the 6As and 5As are also recognised and rewarded for their good plight. In some schools, students who score 4As may not even be invited to receive an award like the others.

Yet, with the present WAEC grading system, which combines best performance in three core subjects, including Mathematics and English, and three elective subjects, a person who scores, for example, four A 1s may be as good as the person who scores 7 As and a B, if the B affects English or Mathematics.

Such a scenario is that of a candidate who scores 7 As and scores only one B3 in English or Core Mathematics will have an aggregate of eight (8) for his best six (6) subjects.

The one who scores five As (5 As) and three B 2s (3 B2s) in the remaining subjects, based on his results in English and Mathematics, may have a total of seven and performed better than the one with 7 As by WAEC standards.

Similarly, the one who scores 6 As and two B3s (2 B3s) can still have an aggregate of six (6) and be rated far ahead of the one who had the 7 As.

Sadly, the universities seem to accept and indeed have adopted the WAEC grading system for the selection of different courses of study, so that a student who scores six A1s (6 As) and two C4s (2 C4s) or even five A1s (5 As) and three B2s (3 Bs), depending on the combination, will be selected ahead of the one who scores 7 As and only one B3 as mentioned above.

A person who scores 4 As and 4 B2s (4 Bs) can also have an average of eight and stand at the same level as the person who scored 7 As and one B3 in the same manner. That’s, to say the least, very demoralizing. Instead of academic excellence, the program seems to reward technicalities.

Truly speaking, English and Mathematics are essential subjects for which students must pass as core subjects, but they should not be the deciding factor in putting someone with 5 As and 3 Bs ahead of someone with 7 As and a B, if the selected course of study in the university is neither a specialisation in English nor Mathematics.

A friend of mine told me about the frustrations he had experienced before his son, who scored 7 As and one B3, was admitted to the course of his choice, although those with grades such as 6As and even 5As were chosen for the reasons outlined above.

Under normal circumstances, I believe that no student can ever get 7 As and a B without a sound knowledge of basic English or Mathematics.

The writer is the Medical Director, Royal Medical Agency and Clinic. Email: [email protected]

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