New exam awaits Grade 12 pupils across the country, minister says

This academic year, Grade 12 students in all government schools or in private schools that deliver the Ministry of Education curriculum will sit the new test covering English, maths and physics.

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ABU DHABI // A national exam is being introduced this academic year to measure pupils’ knowledge of English, maths and physics, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE).

EmSAT, as it is called, will replace the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment (Cepa), which all state school pupils in Grade 12 were required to sit as a prerequisite to entering public universities or colleges in the UAE or receiving government scholarships to study abroad.

This academic year, Grade 12 pupils in all government schools or in private schools that deliver the MoE curriculum will sit the new test.

The maths and physics sections will be offered in two levels – pupils enrolled in the general curriculum will be issued the general test and those in the advanced track will tackle the advanced version.

“This national exam, the objective for it is to measure the skills and the competencies of students nationwide in private and in government schools,” said Minister of Education Hussain Al Hammadi.

“We’d like to track the kids in the system and we will monitor them and then we can see which schools, which teachers are doing well.”

He said EmSAT would help officials to identify weak schools and address teaching shortfalls.

“We have shortcomings in some schools, so we can advise them where skills lack,” said Mr Al Hammadi.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the test will also be introduced in government schools and MoE private school pupils in grades 1, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

There are also plans for EmSAT tests to include Arabic and a range of other subjects, according to the MoE. “It’s so we can intervene earlier,” said Mr Al Hammadi. “If we wait until Grade 12, it’s too late to recover it. The idea is to put a system in place that will monitor the health of the education system and get feedback to the school and the parents about the knowledge that the kids are attaining and the school.”

Cepa, which was first issued to Emirati teenagers in 2003, was a two-hour annual examination at the end of the academic year for pupils in Grade 12. It tested pupils’ English grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing.

Calling it the “next generation” of Cepa, the MoE said EmSAT incorporates advancements in English-language assessment and applies computer-based testing.

“Cepa was primarily a paper-based exam for English and math targeting college-bound Grade 12 students,” the MoE said. “The EmSAT is computer-based and is a suite of exams targeting students from Grade 1 through Grade 12.”

Last year, 13,652 Grade 12 pupils sat the exam across the country. Those who score 180 or higher can enter a local university without having to enrol in the foundation year.

“There is no pass or fail in EmSAT,” according to the ministry. “But different colleges or employers may set their own minimum or maximum score for admissions or placement purposes.”

Institutions that will require EmSAT scores include United Arab Emirates University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Zayed University, Khalifa University, University of Sharjah, Université Mohammed V-Agdal Abu Dhabi, Adveti, Fatima College of Health Science and Abu Dhabi Polytechnic.