Egypt Thanaweya Amma exam answer sheet will be very barcoded against cheating this year

Walaa Gebba, Monday 3 Apr 2023

Students taking Thanaweya Amma (high school) exams in Egypt in June of this year will find personalised answer sheets with multiple barcodes to prevent cheating, according to the education minister.

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The barcoding aims to confirm beyond doubt that the answer sheet, especially for the newly reinstated essay questions, belongs to the student, Minister of Education and Technical Education Reda Hegazy said.

Hegazy’s announcement came during a session of the House's Education and Scientific Research Committee on Monday, where he reviewed ministry preparations for the 2023 Thanaweya Amma, which deternmines the academic future of students.

This year’s high school exams will contain a short essay section constituting 15 percent of the total grade.

Multiple choice questions (MCQs) would account for the remaining 85 percent of the total grade.

For the last two academic years, the final exam has only consisted of MCQs as part of the government's effort to replace the decades-old memorisation-based system with one based on comprehension.

The ministry's decision to bring back essay questions in the test this year reflected a change in implementation mechanisms not an abandonment of the state's plan to overhaul the education system, according to previous statements by the minister.

Fairness and transparency

Hegazy stressed in the hearing that students who file a grievances over grades would receive a copy of his question paper and a copy of their bubble sheet for review.

He affirmed that the ministry is keen to conduct the exams with a high degree of transparency and fairness to ensure equality of opportunity.

Hegazy stressed that the ministry has studied the challenges that were encountered inadministering examinations in previous years carefully.

The minister also noted that no exams will be conducted at any venues that witnessed mass cheating in the previous years, adding that surveillance cameras will be installed at all exam venues to monitor any violations.

The essay questions will be assessed based on the tablet-based rubric and two teachers will correct each question to ensure the precision of the assessment, he explained.

“If the scorers' evaluations vary by more than half a grade, a third teacher will be assigned to check it,” the minister said, adding that model answers will be reviewed before computerised correction begins.  

He added that a simulation of electronic correction would be conducted more than once ahead of exams to ensure quality.

The introduction of new Thanaweya Amma exam system in 2019 lowered the number of students who passed the tests in the last three years.

The passing rate dropped from 81.5 percent in the 2019-2020 academic year to 75 percent in 2021-2022.

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