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Centrally-set examinations

An external, standardized summative assessment developed at the central level that normally has influence on a learner’s eligibility to progress to higher levels of education. Usually central examinations occur at the end of an educational level and their results can be used to sort learners into certain types of schools as well as to certify learning and award qualifications. Sometimes they are used in the early years of schooling and become more widespread at the lower and upper secondary levels. Central examinations are considered ‘standardized’ if they are designed to ensure that the questions, conditions for administering, marking procedures, and interpretations are consistent and comparable among learners (i.e. are based on some standards such as content and/or performance standards of the curriculum). Many countries have hybrid forms where assessments are centrally developed but locally administrated and/or marked. In this case, countries tend to use guidance materials and moderation to ensure the reliability of local marking. Standardized examinations tend to focus on a few priority subjects and frequently some examination subjects are compulsory for all candidates. In standardized central examinations that have formal consequences for individual learners, the most frequently used assessment formats are open-ended written tasks. Multiple-choice items are also frequently used, especially in language subjects examinations. (Adapted from: OECD 2013). Also referred to as ‘national examinations’ or ‘public examinations’.

See also: ‘Assessment of learning’, ‘Summative assessment’.

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