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Tawjihi English exam a ‘slap in the face’, students say

By Laila Azzeh - Jun 16,2015 - Last updated at Jun 16,2015

Tawjihi students gather outside an examination hall before the first exam of the summer session on Monday (Photo by Nader Daoud)

AMMAN — Many students who sat for the first Tawjihi exam on Monday, described it as a “slap in the face”.

English was the first subject 103,000 students were tested in on the first day of the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination’s summer session.

“I read the whole paper once the test started and looked around to see the reaction of my peers. The vocabulary and type of questions made me feel that it was the first time I was reading English,” Ruaa Maaytah, a student from Al Zahraa Secondary School, told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

Feeling “anxious” about her performance in the exam, the 18-year-old “swears” that she studied “really hard” for it.

“But the test was nothing like anything we expected,” the public school student said.

Following the exam, students, parents and teachers turned to social media to express their anger and “astonishment” over the test paper.

Ali Zu’bi, the father of a Tawjihi student, said in his comment on a news website that the exam made students feel that they are being punished.

Retired English teacher Suleiman Al Harasees said the exam had “tricky” questions that Tawjihi students are unfamiliar with.

“For example, there is a question that asks students to imagine themselves as editors at The Jordan Times and edit a paragraph, but it was unclear whether the type of mistakes are grammatical or lexical,” he added.

The overall way the questions were put was “new” to the students, which caused them to panic and feel that the test was harder that it is, Harasees told The Jordan Times over the phone.

The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) said it received tens of calls from students and their parents, complaining about the exam.

“Whatever the justification will be of those who wrote the questions, it is obvious that it does not comply with students’ abilities or take into account their different capabilities,” JTA Spokesperson Ayman Okour said.

Parents also blamed educators for their “weak” teaching skills that make students “panic” at the slightest difference in testing pedagogies.

The exam sparked disagreements on social media, with some people saying that it was “easy” and should not cause such a fuss.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Education Minister Mohammad Thneibat said the ministry will take “fair” measures if it establishes that the exam was “harsh”.

Thneibat also told a local radio station that the ministry will address the matter after the correcting process, if more than 60 per cent of students did not answer a specific question.

 

During Tuesday’s Lower House session, MPs called for holding a meeting with Thneibat to discuss the issue, charging that the exam was “purposely meant to be difficult”.

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