Evaluating 2015 JAMB’s Computer-Based Test (CBT)

BY SCHOLAR OSSAI
THE Computer Based Test (CBT) is an e-testing system that allows students to write the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) online and get their results almost immediately. It is also an administration of an examination using a computer, that is, the candidates can only write the test with the use of computer system and the format is very flexible in such a way that the test can be taken at different times and locations. The mode of test has time for each subject. For instance, if 30 minutes is allocated to chemistry, after the 30minitues, the questions and answers sheet would disappear, then the next subject will appear.
The Board (JAMB) said that the CBT was introduced partly to curb the incidence of smuggling out question papers by machineries who only register for the examination for the sole purpose of taking out question papers, solve and return them and also all other forms of malpractice and unholy acts during and after the examination. The issue of prompt release of result is also a policy act associated with the CBT to discourage an attempt by whoever that want to defraud the candidates in the name of assisting them.
The idea or concept of Computer Based Test (CBT), which was mooted in Nigeria in the year 2012, was first tried in 2013 with only 4,000 registered candidates in 77 examination centres across the country. But in this recently concluded JAMB CBT examination, where 1.4 million candidates registered, the examination centres were increased to 400 throughout the country.
According to the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, the reason behind the introduction of CBT by the Board was to transform the Nigeria educational system starting from the conduct of public examinations. He added that the system was thought out as the only option for now that can address the challenges of examination malpractice, such as impersonation and other ills associated with the conduct of public examinations and also to restore the lost glory of tertiary education in the country.
In enumerating the advantages of the CBT, the Board listed reduction of incidences of breaches of examination security, making Nigeria to operate global best practices, lower long term cost and guaranteed instant feedback to candidates about their results as well as reliability in the system by eliminating the concept of partiality in the entire process..
Other benefits of the CBT include enhanced question styles which incorporated interactivity and multimedia, allowing subsequent changes to answer without the uncertainty of knowing whether the poorly erased answer might invalidate the newly selected one and ability to track and display the remaining time of the examination as well as opportunity to review any question among others.
However, some of the candidates who registered and sat for the CBT examination in their cities of residence were distributed to centres that were extremely too far from their areas of residence as a result of the shortage or inadequate of CBT centres in their host cities and this development made some of them to turned down the offer. Worst hit in this case, were candidates in Lagos State who were posted to Delta, Osun and Ogun to write the examination.
A candidate that sat for the CBT examination in Asaba, Ogodo Ejiro Franklin who experienced delay during the examination due to network failure, lamented that it was a tough day for him, saying that it was difficult to download the questions as the internet was not connecting “and when it was finally connected, the computer tripped off when I was attempting Chemistry questions”. With these hurdles he, however, confirmed that the CBT is still the best compare to the Paper and Pencil Test (PPT) and the Dual Based Test (DBT).
On their parts, Ossai Success and Ilome Christian, who wrote theirs in Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, said they waited for their results for over 72 hours before it finally dropped, even as they said that they did not experienced any form of difficulties during the entire examination process.
Some of the challenges that the Board encountered during and after the 2015 CBT included problems associated with the print out sheet, coping with candidates who could not operate computer and failure of the biometric machines in capturing candidates’ thumb prints and other data at some centres. According to The Guardian Newspaper of March 26, 2015, the Spokesman of the Board, Mr.Fabian Benjamin, said that the challenges were beyond the Board’s control as they (the challenges) were from the side of the network provider. However, the number of results that were yet to be released as at the period of the test were 5,000 out of 1.4million candidates that wrote the examination
Initially, a lot of people were of the opinion that the nation was not ripe enough for the initiative due to dearth of infrastructures, epileptic power supply and low Information Communication Technology (ICT) as well as poor literacy level, especially among some parents and guardians who believe that their children and wards cannot operate computers. Interestingly, the recently concluded UTME where 1.47million candidates participated in the JAMB introduced CBT was successful and this has proved critics of the examination mode wrong.