UTME: CBT Versus Paper-Pencil Based Test – By Abdulshaheed Nuruddeen

Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) is administered to provide information for decision making. Some of these decisions include selection and placement. UTME is primarily conducted for the selection and placement of candidates into programmes in Nigeria’s Tertiary Institutions.

For UTME to effectively serve its intended purpose the items (questions) must be of good quality i.e. appropriate difficulty level, discrimination index, the alternatives must be plausible and the items must be culture fair to all examinees.

The examination body must also ensure effective test administration to minimize the effects of examination malpractice in whatever form.

Candidates seeking admission into Nigeria’s tertiary institutions are from varied ethnic, cultural, religious, economic and other experiential backgrounds and these in turn influence perception, performance and achievement of the candidates differently.

A good standardized test must consider all of the above factors in planning, designing and conducting such a test, so that all the parties are given a level playing ground to ensure fairness. The examination should be flexible enough to meet the need of the students and at the same time be able to measure the criteria that are to be measured .Such a test must also have a high level of validity and reliability.

Candidates from public and rural based institutions suffer from ICT related infrastructural deficiency compared with the private and urban based institutions. This deficiency indicates that some UTME candidates arrived at the examination centres already handicapped especially if the paper-pencil alternative is not provided. This group of candidates constitute the highest percentage of those taking the examinations.

Jamb should consider a decision to provide students with an alternative to choose between a Computer based test (CBT) and a paper-pencil based test is an innovative way to check mass failure in the exam.

A pupil who lacks the basic rudiments of operating a computer will surely perform poorly when exposed to that method of evaluation due to anxiety and other factors. A brilliant kid with no knowledge of computers will end up doing worse than an unserious kid with a good understanding of computers due to factors not related directly to the test but factors related to the opportunities he/she enjoyed while growing up in a better or richer environment. As such, JAMB should not completely abandon the traditional paper-pencil alternative for the e-approach and vice-versa. Rather the two should be utilized adequately for the best possible outcome.


Written by Abdulshaheed Nuruddeen


Twitter @avshaheed

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