Tawjihi Exams: A Student Dead, A Flawed Exam, and Many Questions

A student is dead in Faqou’ in Karak governorate after riots broke out following an incident at the Tawjihi exams. Someone was caught attempting to help students cheat in an examination hall, and police were called to assist. Subsequently, after the exam about 200 students – and some of their relatives – attacked a police station in Faqou’ and in the clashes one of the students was killed.

This incident comes as other reports of cheating have surfaced on the Tahjihi exams, which are required for university admission in Jordan. Al-Yarmouk satellite network said on Tuesday that it had in its possession a copy of the geology exam approximately 45 minutes prior to it being administered to students. There was also another incident in Jerash where the speakers at a mosque were used to leak the answers to the test to students. The problem has become so severe that the deputy head of the Jordanian Teachers’ Association (JTA) has said that there was a conspiracy to undermine the exams this year.

There is a larger issue though – why is it that this incident took place at all? Why were students and their families so angered to the extent that they attacked a police station when someone was caught attempting to help students cheat. It’s because the Tahjihi exam score is the sole factor in university admissions in most cases. Students frequently study for a year to prepare for them for 6-8 hours a day. This is the fundamental source of the anger when someone was caught attempting to help students cheat. Nothing excuses cheating, but when someone’s entire university admission chances depend on one test, they are going to seek out whatever advantage they can.

Flaws in the reliance on one examination have been pointed out before. Check out this slideshare show by Walid Maani about flaws in the Tawjihi assessment process. Ultimately, the solution is to adopt a more comprehensive method of assessing candidates for university rather than the reliance on one test, the results of which can be affected by any number of factors that have little to do with a student’s prospects for success at university or beyond. That’s the way to prevent incidents such as this one from happening again.

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