The Overseas Examination Commission (OEC) acts as a Proctoring (Supervisory) Body for many Overseas Examining Boards, including the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and the Cambridge International Examinations (GCE), namely:
- Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC)
- Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE)
- General Certificate of Education (GCE)
- Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC)
In fact, the OEC has also been named a Cambridge International Partner, in recognition of the work carried out on their behalf in Jamaica. Traditionally Secondary School examinations are largely paper-based, but this is increasingly changing.
General Information about Examinations
Candidates sitting the CXC or the GCE examinations may register either as a school candidate (if they are in full time at a school) through the OEC as a private candidate, even if they have already left school.
Registration takes place annually as follows:
- CXC CSEC January examinations Mid-August to Mid-September
- CXC CSEC May/June examinations End of September to Mid-November
- GCE October/November examinations Mid-June to Mid-July
- GCE May/June examinations Mid October Mid-December
Candidates, who register through a school usually sit their examinations at that school, while Private candidates registered through the Commission are centres in parishes across the island. Supervisors are appointed by the Overseas Examinations Commission to conduct examinations throughout the island and Syllabi and resource materials are available at the Overseas Examination Commission.
The Examining Bodies have strict guidelines which have to be followed and these are clearly communicated to schools and examination centres by the OEC. The CXC Examination Scripts are marked in Jamaica and in other Caribbean territories (i.e. Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana), and in the case of GCE, in Great Britain.
Preliminary Examination Result Slips are issued through the OEC approximately two months after each sitting annually. Each Candidate will be issued a certificate once they have obtained a Grade A - E in the University of Cambridge's International Examinations (GCE) or a grade 1 - 6 in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Certificates for CXC & GCE examination are available 2-3 months after the examinations are taken. Candidate who sit as PRIVATE CANDIDATES are expected to collect their certificates immediately after they become available. Both the OEC and the examining bodies it represents in Jamaica's Retention Policies dictates that certificates should be promptly collected. Failure to collect these certificates within the stated time will result in disposal. Following which persons desiring a copy will have to apply for a [Replacement Certificate].
Given that the Overseas Examinations Commission is the sole entity, which performs the important and sensitive function of the large-scale administration of overseas examinations in the island, management of the organisation must be of the highest standard. Foremost in the minds of the management and staff is the recognition that a miscarriage of the core business of the office can negatively impact the academic and career futures of numerous Jamaicans.
Procedures for Submissions to CXC
CXC’s Online Registration System (ORS) is updated in September for each new examination year. At this time the OEC also stages its annual training programme for Exam Coordinators island-wide for both public and private institutions. The schools are required to register their candidates on the Online Registration System, submit payments (after Ministry of Education’s subsidy is applied) and all relevant receipts and supporting documents to the OEC by the end of November in order for the OEC to meet the CXC’s annual December 31 deadline.
As of June 2016, CXC introduced the option for the online submission for School Based Assessments (SBA’s) for some subjects for both the CSEC and CAPE examinations. In the case of CAPE, a total of 10 subjects (for both Units 1 and 2), plus the three compulsory subjects (Communication Studies, Caribbean Studies and Integrated Mathematics) and for CSEC a total of nine subjects – were allowed to be uploaded on the ORS. Hard copies for all other subjects have to be physically submitted to CXC, through the Overseas Examinations Commission.
OEC produces and distributes an updated SBA Manual, which gives details of all requirements, including deadlines, procedures, etc., to schools island-wide in March each year for guidance and reference. The SBA Manual specifically warns that “Where marks or scores are not submitted via ORS, all candidates for that subject will be reported as “Ungraded,” even though samples may have been received.” In other words, both the SBA marks and samples must have been submitted to the Caribbean Examinations Council, before a final grade can be awarded.
The deadline for the submission of CSEC SBAs annually, is April 30, with an absolute deadline July 31. This is communicated in the SBA Manual and is understood by schools. The deadline for CAPE SBA submissions is May 31, with same absolute deadline of July 31. In order to facilitate schools as much as possible, the OEC allows up to July 25 for the submission of hard copies of SBAs through the OEC, after which they are sent by courier to the CXC Marking Centres in time to meet the absolute cut-off date of July 31. For all SBAs received by the OEC, the Commission keeps a log/record. For schools opting to use the CXC’s Online Registration System, the electronic uploads of the SBAs are directly received by the CXC: there is no automatic notification to the OEC of these submissions.
Maintaining a Record of Integrity
The Overseas Examinations Commission has established an enviable record of a 100 percent rate of return of scripts and SBAs placed in its custody over the years. Additionally, the Organization has worked hard to improve its auditing of the SBAs and achieved near perfect (over 99.9 percent) Compliance in 2015.
The OEC prizes its relationships with all Examining Bodies, our parent Ministry, as well as the schools and students served. Many schools can attest to the role the OEC has played over the years in finding solutions to myriad problems which emerge as part of the examinations process. The welfare of the over 100,000 candidates, who write multiple exams each year, has always been the OEC’s greatest concern and the Commission and its staff are committed to going above and beyond the call of duty to work with schools to resolve issues quietly, many of which, if not addressed, could have had significant consequences.
The Overseas Examinations Commission, over its 129 years of existence, has naturally evolved with the times and has implemented processes to mitigate the threat to the security of examinations from the misuse of technology or otherwise.