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Schools Will Swap Out Exams For Tests


The Department of Basic Education has replaced final exams with tests for learners in grades 10 and 11. The final mark will now be calculated differently, with new weightings for exams and School-Based Assessments (SBA).


School-Based Assessments will now count for more marks, as the weighting has been increased from 25% to 60%. This is according to a circular signed by Basic Education director-general, Mathanzima Mweli. 

Under normal circumstances, the final grade of learners in grades 10 and 11 would mainly be determined by exams. This year, the exams will be written as tests which will weigh 40% while the SBA will weigh 60%. 

This is a difference from the usual weighting of 75% for exams and 25% for SBA. According to the circular, this adjustment was made because Covid-19 has resulted in a loss of teaching time. 

“The additional loss of teaching time due to rotational attendance, Covid-19 infections and the additional four-week closure has resulted in a variable completion of the annual teaching plans” 

Learners will write tests set by their schools, as the provincial education departments will not be setting the usual common tests this year.

“The controlled Test must cover a substantial portion of the curriculum taught, preferably work covered in all terms, wherever possible.”

In addition to this, grade 10 test papers will be an hour-long while the grade 11 test papers will be two hours long.

“Fundamental subjects like languages, maths and maths literacy will offer the required number of papers with a reduced duration. All elective subjects to reduce the number of papers to one Test per subject.”

Recently, the Department of Basic Education created a Risk-Adjusted Plan with a revised school calendar and a new possible framework for learners in grade 10 and 11. 

The plan included three scenarios based on the amount of teaching time that the department could lose. 

  1. Low road – 60% teaching time lost
  2. Middle road – 30% teaching time lost
  3. High road – No/minimal disruptions

The Risk-Adjusted Plan made the following suggestions for schools:

Grades 10 & 11

  • School-based class tests should be used instead of final exams to determine if a learner qualifies to move on to the next grade
  • Schools should be discouraged from making learners take common tests or examinations
  • School-based assessments should be calculated according to a ratio of 80:20 (80% School-Based Assessment to 20% final class test)

Grade 11

  • Schools must limit the final class tests to elective subjects or the fundamental subjects like: Mathematics/Mathematical Literacy; Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) and Home language (HL);
  • Life Orientation can be assessed through a formal class test.

The department hopes to make up for the 5 weeks of teaching time that schools have lost because of Covid-19.



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