Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education

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KCSE stands for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, which is taken at the completion of Secondary Education.

The first KCSE exam was held in 1989 at the same time as the last Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE), which it replaced as the entrance requirement for Kenyan Universities.

The top student was Naeem Samnakay, who had also been the top student in the first KCPE exam 4 years previously.

Initially, KCSE was a minimum of 10 subjects. KCSE has since been reviewed twice, and the minimum number of subjects is now 7.

Compulsory subjects Group two Group three Group four Group five
English, Swahili, Mathematics Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Biological Science (taken by blind candidates) History and government, Geography, Christian Religious Education, Islamic Religious Education and Hindu Religious Education Home science, Art and Design, Agriculture, Computer Studies, Aviation French, German, Arabic, Music, Business Studies

For grading, candidates must take all the three compulsory subjects, at least two sciences, one humanities and at least one practical or technical subject (see table below).

The examination is taken over October & November and the results are released in February the following year.

The KCSE examinations are taken under very strict supervision from invigilators to avoid cheating and run for a period of about one month. Cheating in these examinations attracts severe penalties from the Kenya National Examinations Council and students caught cheating get their grades cancelled. The exams usually start on October 22 and end in late November. From December, the exam is graded and released on February 26 the following year. Examination results are announced to the public by the Minister for Education and the top 100 students and schools are released to the media the same day of the announcement. School rankings are divided into the top 100 private schools, public schools and provincial schools.

The grading of the examination is as thus: A (80% and above) A- (79- 75) B+ (70-74) B (65-69) B- (60-65) C+ (55-59) C (50-54) C- (45-49) D+ (40-44) D (35-39) D- (30-34) E (0-29)

In Kenya, this examination is the entrance to public and private universities and the pass mark is grade C+. Students who attain a lower mark than C+ join other tertiary institutions for non-degree courses. Over time, stringent measures have been taken by the government to ensure and sustain the credibility of the KCSE examination. However, there have been instances of breaches of these measures leading to examination vices such as leakage to some selected students who if undetected end up scoring high grades. In detected cases, such students have been punished by having their results cancelled and examination officials who participated in the vice charged in a court of law.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students take the examination after four years of the Secondary School Course and this examination is a major determinant of the individual's future career. A good grade guarantees one a place in one of the public or private universities in the country.

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