JAMB Candidates Face New Hurdles at UTME

Dibu Ojerinde


The Joint Admissions Examination and Matriculation Board is still grappling with computer-based test for the unified tertiary matriculation examination as candidates are faced with various problems in writing the test

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar 14, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

DESPITE all the promises by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, on its readiness for the 2016 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, the problems that marred the 2015 edition appear to have defiled solution. The issues of registration hitches, random allocation of examination centres, insufficient examination centres as well as network/connectivity failure during examination held sway.

Realnews investigations showed that a good number of those who have registered for this year’s examination are experiencing some of the challenges. For instance, some of them complained to Realnews that some of the questions on English Language were wrong as the answers were not available in the options given. According to the candidates, the JAMB should put this into consideration when marking and grading them so it would not affect their scores negatively.

Apart from that, Chinedu Okpe, a candidate, said there was disparity in the results sent to him by the JAMB through SMS and the one he printed out from its website. “I received a text from JAMB on Tuesday that I scored 194 but when I checked the website on Wednesday, I scored 236. I learnt that JAMB gave everybody that wrote on Tuesday, March 1, 40 marks because of the malfunctioning of the computers,” Okpe said.

On his part, Onyeka Okoro, another candidate, said he encountered difficulties trying to use the computer provided for him by the examination board. “I wrote exam on Monday February 29, we encountered many problems in the hall such as computer would shut down and restart on its own; some did that at the middle of the exam and at the end of the exam. In addition, in my centre our English Language questions from 12 to 20 were not able to preview and the invigilator asked us to skip the questions that the JAMB would do something about it. So, I’m appealing to whoever it may concern to mark us with pity bearing in mind the problem we passed through,” Okoro said.

Another candidate, Deborah, who sat for the exam with the registration number 66416204FI, said there was disparity in the subjects she registered for and what the JAMB gave her on the exam slip. “I registered for Maths, Physics, Geography and English Language, which was on the first slip, when I printed the second slip I was given Chemistry instead of Geography. I got to the exam centre it was Geography that was on my computer. As soon as I started the computer, after answering five questions it logged me out.

“I logged in again but it kept doing the same thing, I called the attention of the supervisor who helped to reset from the control room because it refused to log me in again and the message was that I had already been logged in. After resetting, the problem continued I had to shuttle between subjects to attempt all the subjects, meanwhile when this was going on my time was counting and time was wasted on booting and rebooting of the computer. When everybody was logged out from the server I had 16mins left which would have enabled me to answer more questions but it logged me out,” Deborah complained.

Irked by legion of complaints by candidates, Adamu Adamu, minister of education, expressed concern over the plight and difficulties faced by non-computer literate students sitting for the examination. The minister expressed his reservation when he visited some centres in the FCT to monitor the on-going UTME being conducted by the JAMB.

Adamu, however, said though he was satisfied with the conduct of the CBT mode of the examination, he was glad the board had addressed most of his concerns and other Nigerians. He said: “I seem to be very comfortable and happy with what they are doing. But my question has not been answered; that there may be people who are not computer literate, so, what do you do with them? I do not have reservation about the CBT but I have sympathy for those who are not computer literate and there are many of them.”

That notwithstanding, Fabian Benjamin, public relations officer, JAMB, said the board didn’t make mistakes while setting the questions and that all the complaints by the candidates were duly handled by the supervisors. Benjamin said the portion in English Language the candidates complained about was the comprehension part whereby they had to fill in the gaps. “You know these students are in a hurry to finish and most of them don’t take their time to go through the questions. Even some candidates in one of the centres I visited pointed out that to me and I had to explain to them that in comprehension, you have to fill in the gaps. I can assure you that the JAMB didn’t make any mistake when setting the questions,” he said.

Perhaps, that was true. But what is incontrovertible is that Nigerian candidates for the JAMB examinations are just grappling with the computer-based examination method. In the first nine years of the board’s existence, test papers for its examinations were printed and produced abroad before the government directed that the processing operations be localised. In 1987, the board printed its first set of examination materials in the country and it remains so until date, even as the answer scripts are also processed in the country.

In its bid to evolve with the times, the examining body introduced the CBT, the paper-pencil test, PPT, and the dual-based test, DBT, a few years back. Of these three tests, Dibu Ojerinde, registrar and chief executive of the board, in 2013 announced that the CBT mode would, beginning from 2015, be compulsory and without the options of the PPT and the DBT.

Listing the advantages of the CBT, the board said it would reduce the incidences of breaches of examination security; making Nigeria operate global best practices; lower long-term costs; instant feedback to students; greater flexibility with respect to locations and timing; improved reliability and improved impartiality.

It also stated other benefits of the CBT to include greater storage efficiency; enhanced question styles, which incorporate interactivity and multimedia; enhanced presentation of items; allowing subsequent changes to an answer without the uncertainty of knowing whether a poorly erased answer might invalidate the new selection; immediate score reporting; ability to track and display the time remaining on the examination and opportunity to review any questions on the examination among others.

When the CBT was first rolled out in 2013, with only 4, 000 registered candidates, the JAMB had set up 77 examination centres around the country. In 2014, when a total of 1.7m candidates registered, the centres were increased to 400 across the nation.

Since last year, right from the registration stage, some candidates had stridently complained about difficulties accessing the JAMB portal in their bid to print their examination slips.


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