KCSE Grading Scale – Per Subject
KCSE Grading System – Per Subject; See details on KCSE Grading System – Per Subject
The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) uses a grading system to evaluate the examination performance of students who sit for the KCSE exams.
Currently, KCSE results are determined by a 12-point grade system. This grade will determine the kind of tertiary institution that a student can join.
Here is a breakdown of the current KCSE grading system.
KNEC recently released the KCSE grading system they will use for the 2019 national examinations. The system is based on a numeric 12-point scale from 1-12 and an expanded letter grade ranging from A to E (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, E).
The expanded letter grade means C+ is the ‘pass’ grade that allows students to join a public university. It is a grade most students can aim for when sitting for their exams.
Many universities and employers consider grades C to E as insignificant nowadays. A is the best grade a student can strive to get. It takes a mixture of grades A- to B- for a student to enroll in a good university.
The KCSE grading system attempts to measure the breadth or depth of learning in Kenyan schools. It also measures competence levels and quality of performance in students. In previous years, KNEC used the grading system as a standard measure of comparing students.
But this has changed since the Education Department uses it as a tool to assess learning. Students can use the system to reveal their next learning steps. For example, students who score B+ in Biology, Mathematics, and English can choose to learn medicine in university.
Although a student may sit for the national examinations, KNEC may not award the student a mean grade for several reasons. This can happen if a student does not meet the set requirements for getting a certificate. In this case, a candidate will have a grade of:
- U – it indicates a candidate has not met the criteria for a certificate award
- W – it indicates KNEC has withheld a candidate’s results for various reasons
- X – it indicates a candidate was not present throughout the exams
- Y – it indicates KNEC has canceled a candidate’s results because of irregularities
- Z – it indicates a candidate has not met the registration requirements
How the KCSE grading system works
KNEC grades candidates who sit for 7 or more KCSE subjects during the national examinations. The examinations body puts all subjects into five groups. These groups include:
- Group I – These are compulsory subjects all students must sit for during exams. They include English (101), Kiswahili (102), and Mathematics (121).
- Group II – The group consists of four science subjects. However, a student must sit for at least two subjects during the exams. They include Biology (231), Physics (232), Chemistry (233), and General Science (237).
- Group III – The group consists of five humanities subjects. A student must sit for at least one subject during the exams. They include History and Government (311), Geography (312), Christian Religious Education (313), Islamic Religious Education (314), and Hindu Religious Education (315).
- Group IV – There are eleven subjects in this group. The subjects include: Home Science (411), Art and Design (442), Agriculture (443), Woodwork (444), Metalwork (445), Building Construction (446), Power Mechanics (447), Electricity (448), Drawing and Design (449), Aviation Technology (450), and Computer Studies (451).
- Group V – The groups consists of subjects from languages and business studies. They include French (501), German (502), Arabic (503), Kenya Sign Language (504), Music (511), and Business Studies (565).
A student can choose the seventh subject from Group II or Groups III, IV or V. To get a mean grade based on the KCSE grading system 2018, KNEC averages a student’s score in all the seven (7) subjects. The table below shows grades and marks and their corresponding points based on the current KCESE grading system.
Based on the current KCSE grading system per subject, it shows that the 2018 KCSE examinations will not be as challenging as previous ones.
A student is more likely to get a grade of A by scoring 81 or above. Had the highest numeric aggregate grade started from 80, for example, it would suggest students will find this year’s exams a bit harder.
Marking of KCE exams
During the marking of KCSE examinations, KNEC does not give candidates a percentage mark to get a particular grade. Instead, they publish KCSE grades and points to indicate the general performance of students.
The examinations body sets grades by combining expert judgment and statistics to come on an agreeable grade boundary.
Exam papers are not the same. They vary in difficulty. As such, the experts set grade boundaries to reflect the current performance of all students.
The purpose is to ensure candidates do not get lower grades just because they sat for more difficult papers than previous years’. After agreeing on grade boundaries, KNEC applies them to students’ marks to give them a grade.
KCSE examiners are teachers experienced in respective subjects. The examinations body selects them carefully and trains them before they can mark the exams.
It is essential that they use the same standards when marking the exams so that KNEC can award students the right grades.
Before schools can receive the results, senior examiners conduct final checks on all the marking. The purpose is to ensure no errors and that the standards were met during the marking of the exams.
The Kenya National Examinations Council does not use percentages in the grading system. They replace them with letter grades to create a mean grade.
Kenyan universities do not use percentages from KCSE results when enrolling students too. Instead, they use the mean grade to determine a student’s rank in the concluded exams.
This strategy means that the KCSE grading system gives a better measure of a student’s performance than the traditional marking system.