How Kenya National Examinations Council nabs exam cheats

Examining results for unusual performance patterns and use of computer programs are among methods the examinations agency uses to detect cheating.

With thousands of candidates due to sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCPE) examinations this month, a review of court submissions by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) in cheating cases reveals strategies used to spot irregularities.


Apart from candidates caught cheating while writing the examinations, examiners look for similar answers or phrases.

For multiple answer questions, a computer program is used to scan through the answer sheets to smoke out cheats.

The multiple answer examination sheets are scanned with an optical mark reader to detect collusion by use of a computer program known as the Item Difficulty Profile (IDP).

The performance profile of a school using the IDP programme shows either positive or negative deviations.

An exceptional report is produced if 10 per cent or more of the questions in a paper are flagged, that is, if they deviate significantly from the normal expected performance behaviour.

A negative flag is registered if 80 per cent or more of the candidates give one wrong response out of three wrong responses given in a typical multiple-choice question.

"Candidates in a centre are said to have been involved in collusion in a subject paper if 80 per cent or more of the candidates choose the identical wrong responses in at least 10 per cent of the questions in a paper," Knec told the court.

"For example in an English paper that has 50 questions, if 80 per cent of the candidates in a centre have five negative flags then the candidates are considered to have colluded," states Knec in the court filings.

In 2014, Knec cancelled Kiswahili results for 49 pupils from Precious Gift Primary School.


The commission ruled that students got help to answer the questions from a third party.

Immediately after the cancellation, 35 parents, on behalf of the pupils, moved to the High Court.

Justice George Odunga heard that the council detected examination irregularities and cancelled Kiswahili papers results
for 1,702 candidates from 93 examination centres.

The examination agency explained that collusion was the most common form of examination irregularity (at 99.9 per cent of those affected) in 2014.

Most affected was Kiswahili, which had 1,193 cases, followed by English with 677 cases.

In the case of Precious Gift Schools-Komarock Centre, the IDP program negatively flagged six out of 50 questions (12 per cent) for 49 out of 59 candidates (83 per cent); a performance trend that Knec ruled was abnormal.

In a separate case filed by 131 students, whose examination was cancelled in 2015, Knec explained that they all provided incorrect but identical responses to an English question.

KCSE Results » KCSE Results Top 100 Schools - Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education – KCSE » KCSE Top 100 Candidates » Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education – KCSE » KNEC - Kenya National Examinations Council » Secondary Schools in Kenya » KNEC - Kenya National Examinations Council » Free KNEC KCSE Past Papers

Kenya Scholarships for Undergraduate Students » Kenya Scholarships for Postgraduate Students » Undergraduate Scholarships for Kenyan Students » Kenya Undergraduate Scholarships » Full Undergraduate Scholarships for Kenyans » Kenya Postgraduate Scholarships » Scholarships & Grants » Undergraduate Scholarships » Universities in Kenya » Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) » Colleges in Kenya » KASNEB Registration & Results » Secondary Schools Scholarships in Kenya » Undergraduate & Graduate Scholarships for Kenyans

Free KCSE Past Papers » KNEC Past Exams » Free Downloads » KCSE Papers & Marking Schemes

  • KCSE Results
  • Secondary Schools in Kenya
  • New National Schools in Kenya Clusters (4 Clusters)
  • National Secondary Schools in Kenya - Listed as Per Number of Streams, Student Capacity, Gender, School Code

    Scholarships for African Students » Undergraduate Scholarships » African Women Scholarships & Grants » Developing Countries Scholarships » Erasmus Mundus Scholarships for Developing Countries » Fellowship Programs » Funding Grants for NGOs » Government Scholarships » LLM Scholarships » MBA Scholarships » PhD and Masters by Research Scholarships » Public Health Scholarships - MPH Scholarships » Refugees Scholarships » Research Grants » Scholarships and Grants

    Scholarships in Australia

  • Click here to post comments

    Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to KNEC Questions & Comments.