Why all examiners had to sit the KCSE papers they were to mark

Teachers picked to mark this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations were first made to sit the same papers they were to mark.

Unlike in the past when the selected national markers would sit down with the setter of the papers to discuss the answers, this time round, the markers's proficiency was tested by the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) chiefs.

Reliable sources at the national marking centres narrated to The Standard how markers for respective papers were tested for proficiency before being allowed to proceed with the exercise.

A senior KCSE marker who took part in the examinations said those who failed to score at least 95 per cent were discontinued. The rules were very tight for key subjects such as Maths and English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.


"The overriding concern was that there was no way a marker who did not get all the answers right could mark the paper," he told The Standard in Kisumu yesterday.

Not even the chief examiner was spared. Sources disclosed they were the first to sit the KCSE papers in a process dubbed pre-qualification.

The exercise took four days after the selected markers reported to the various national marking stations.

The chief examiner's test was marked by the setter before he administered the same test to all his assistants.

After that, he met the assistant chief examiners (ACEs) to discuss the paper and the marking scheme. This was done to allow the chief and ACEs to agree on the marking procedure.

"Thereafter, they met the various team leaders numbering about 100 to discuss the paper and then, under the guidance of chief examiners and ACEs, conducted the same tests on the team leaders," he said.

The team leaders' tests were marked by the ACEs who then retreated to discuss each question and possible answers alongside those prescribed in the marking schemes for any necessary amendments.

It is after this that the close to 1,200 markers were asked to report to the marking centres and made to sit the paper.

Team leaders were divided into about six or eight groups, whose members were expected to mark about 580 papers per person.

The markers and the team leaders also had to discuss the questions and their answers as provided in the marking schemes.

During the discussions, markers were allowed to include alternative answers that were not in the marking schemes, like methods used in calculations.

The markers were then subjected to marking of dummies or photocopies of the papers.

These dummies had already been marked by chief examiners, ACEs and team leaders and common scores arrived at.

Each of the markers are required to state how they arrived at each of the marks awarded to the candidates. Time is then allowed for criticism.

After marking about 12 dummies, the examiners would then again sit for a pre-test.

At this stage, they were expected to mark at least three dummies to be recorded as pre-test.

Again, the outcome was discussed with each of the team leaders. After the pre-test, the papers were remarked again to ascertain if the marks awarded were right.

The purpose of remarking was to ascertain if the candidate deserved what the examiners had given. For instance, if a marker gave a candidate 60 or 80 per cent, would a remark reproduce the same score if done by a new examiner?

In the event the marks deviated, the markers would be disqualified and requested to leave.

The rule of thumb was that there was no way a paper could be marked by about eight people producing similar results only
for one person to deviate.

It is after this process that the examiners were subjected to ‘live or real papers’ to mark under very close or tight supervision of team leaders and ACEs.

Marking is done under close surveillance of CCTVs.

No examiner or marker is allowed during this period to access the marking centre with his phone until after 11pm in the night for the entire period.

Examiners were also not allowed to carry electronic gadgets like laptops and tablets to the marking centres.

Marking hours were strictly set to between 7am and 7pm. Only in special cases did marking go beyond these hours, and if it did, the chief examiner was required to liaise with Knec for extension.

In some cases, marking began at 5pm and was extended to 11pm in others with a 10-20 minute break for tea, lunch and supper.


Each paper, sources revealed, was marked in red first by the examiners, then marked again in green by the various team leaders.

Subsequently, it is marked in black by the assistant chief examiners or markers and then by the chief examiners for each of the subjects.

This was after the papers had been cross-checked by various team leaders for audit of the marks awarded. It was then that the marks were entered into the mark sheet.

It was at this point that a packet containing the particulars of each centre was given to the examiners and passed on to another team to cross-check the marks.

Only after this were the marks keyed into a computer.

Access to the IT room where the results are keyed in was restricted. Not even the chief examiner could access this room.

The mark sheets and keyed in marks are then returned to the markers to cross check whether what was keyed into the data base is what they awarded.

Red ink

Upon certification, the markers and ACEs will append their signatures using red inked pens, team leaders in green and the chief examiner in blue.

Only then is the mark sheet qualified as properly done.

In the event the marks are not properly entered or are incorrect, the immediate attention of the chief examiner is sought.

This is to allow him to sign a form allowing changes to be made.

Sources revealed within the marking centres, KNEC set up a surveillance office, where the process was keenly monitored.

The Standard, Thursday December 21st, 2017.

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