No tablets are allowed in Thanaweya Amma exams this year
A set of new decisions regarding Thanaweya Amma (12th grade) exams as well as those of grades 10 and 11 were issued last week by Minister of Education Tarek Shawki, leaving students and parents baffled.
To start with, Shawki decided to postpone Thanaweya Amma exams. Instead of being held from 11 June to the first week of July, they will now be held from 20 June to 19 July.
Reda Hegazi, deputy to the minister of education, noted that the minister postponed the exams due to several reasons, among them that the academic year started late due to the spread of Covid-19, prompting the minister to give students the chance to finish their curricula. Also, technical school exams were rescheduled to start on 28 May instead of 21 May, and will end on 9 June, making the postponement necessary for logistical reasons.
During a virtual press conference on 20 April, the minister noted that Thanaweya Amma students are to be examined via bubble sheets with only multiple choice questions. There will be no essay questions as the answers will be corrected electronically.
Exams for subjects whose scores are not added to the students’ total grades — including religion, national education, economics, and statistics — will be part of the exam schedule taking place on 20-21 June at secured exam stations, Shawki said.
According to Shawki, students will not be allowed to use textbooks or their computer tablets during their exams to prevent cheating. “Students will instead be provided with rubric sheets for each subject to guide them in their exams,” said Shawki.
“How can they make such a drastic change to the exam format just a couple of months from the exams?” asked Asmaa, a mother of a student. She said her daughter and her classmates had been taught to take open book exams for the past two years. “The new decision is leaving them disoriented,” Asmaa said.
Mona Al-Sayed is another parent who does not trust the decisions of the ministry. Last year students used the tablet during their trial exams, but when it was time for the real exam, they were given bubble sheets.
Elham Ahmed, a Thanaweya Amma student, noted that the ministry comes up with new rules every year and students cannot keep up. “I wish we wouldn’t be taken by surprise by a new decision a few days before the start of the exams,” said Ahmed who does not mind the exam postponement as this will give them more time to study.
The minister also decided to hold final exams for grade 10 and 11 students in morning and evening shifts. They will be taken in both paper and electronic formats.
Final exams for grade 10 are scheduled to be held from 11 to 25 May, while grade 11 will take place from 12 to 26 May.
Hegazi noted that grades 10 and 11 exams would each be divided into two parts: 30 per cent would be in an essay format while the remaining 70 per cent is multiple choice.
“Grade 10 and 11 students will sit for their exams at secured exam stations exactly as those of Thanaweya Amma to put an end to cheating. The multiple choice part will be on tablets in order to correct it electronically,” Hegazi said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.