After about 15 years in basic formal education, which entails around three years in kindergarten, eight in primary school level, and four in secondary school, some 903,260 candidates who are in Form 4 will be officially taking their KCSE final examination across 10,651 exam centers in the first Monday of next month.
November 6 is the date the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), 2023 version, will begin as all candidates will sit for compulsory written tests of Paper 1 Chemistry and English. Practicals and oral evaluations for optional subjects like German, French, Arabic, Music, and Home Science commenced on October 23.
This year, the number of candidates registered for KCSE is the highest after recording a 2.12% increase from the 884,122 scheduled for the same tests in 2022, data from the national examiner and admin Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) shows.
Students must excel in KCSE with grades above C+ in order to gain admission to higher learning institutions, universities, and colleges. It is a sort of a key: unlocking success. However, many of them usually perform poorly, attributable to inefficient revision techniques, ignorance or lack of interest, planning fallacy, and others. So what can you do and not do to pass these final exams?
1. Grasp concepts. Don’t just read
You may overwork your brain if you employ poor study habits like cramming, which leads to failure of not organizing the most important structural learning concepts that help to recognize, recall, and write out correct answers during the KCSE examinations.
If you cram, the study content is not committed to long-term brain memory, enabling you to recognize but fail to recall the concepts because the information is quickly lost. Take time to learn and understand course notes and the other source materials, even if it means reading and comprehending word by word. You got all the time.
2. Space out your revision
As the KCSE exams draw closer, it is obvious that you need to prepare more intensively to be among high-achieving students and secure a space at any of the prestigious Kenyan universities when the results are out but literally burning the midnight oil for the sake of performance is counterproductive.
It is a question of how effectively you study. Spread out your focused study and revision session in 40-60 minutes for 3 to 6 hours a day in which you get through one subject per each allocated time for beneficial and concentrated study time.
3. Start early and put effort
Students who pass their exams are either geniuses or ‘normal learners’ who decided to spend their time reading as a response to being metacognitively aware that someday, KCSE examinations must begin.
They came up with the most dedicated study plan and tried to at least adhere to it. Those successful in their doings have been recording high test scores in regular and mock exams – an equivalent of true learning, though controversial.
Such KCSE candidates are likely to do more in the oncoming national college entrance examinations because they developed higher levels of learning and memory, eroding overconfidence.
Those who make last-minute preparations are likely to be caught in the grip of exam anxiety when the day of doing KCSE comes.
4. Check those past papers
Supercharging your revision with past paper practice has a positive washback effect on learning outcomes, especially since examiners normally (but not guaranteed) repeat questions in some topics.
It means that if you immerse yourself in many questions, you will create familiarity and can answer them correctly if they appear on the KCSE paper.
5. Quiz yourself
After going through the selection of questions in past papers, use different constructs to come up with practice tests of twisted formats to diagnose your conceptual understanding.
Quizzing will aid in identifying your strengths and weaknesses in the most tested topics, concept retention, and deep understanding.
6. Sleep first
During exam periods, secondary school students who are KCSE candidates are at risk for poor sleep, usually due to accountability pressures after feeling they lack knowledge in many areas of study.
Inadequate sleep affects our ability to remember learned things owing to weariness. In exam season, maintain a good sleeping routine so as to get up early and prepare before the tests start.
7. Clutch at straws
The variation in student outcome in the competitive Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams relies on enough overtime readying. Complex cognitive understanding, plus the ability to solve problems, cannot be gained in minutes. Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell says in his Outliers: The Story of Success book that developing mastery levels in anything needs at least 10,000 hours of training. It is called the 10,000-Hour Rule: “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
But if you have failed to attain such and are among the slightly under a million registered KCSE test takers for 2023, start planning to mediate the blunder. Consult your teachers to help you design an approach that will boost your performance, and remember to learn to think appropriately about what is and will happen in real life.
We wish you success in your forthcoming examinations.