Academic Grading in Kenya: Understanding the System from Primary, Secondary to University

From KCPE results to university GPAs, this article breaks down the grading systems used in Kenyan education. Explore the significance of grades and their impact on students' future academic paths.

Sep 1, 2023 - 09:56
Sep 1, 2023 - 09:59
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Academic Grading in Kenya: Understanding the System from Primary, Secondary to University
Academic Grading in Kenya: Understanding the System from Primary, Secondary to University

Grading systems are pivotal in assessing students' performance and guiding their educational journey in Kenya. These grading systems are the compass that students rely on as they transition from primary to secondary school and later to universities. This comprehensive article will delve into the academic grading methods employed in Kenya for primary, secondary, and university education. From the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) to university GPAs, we'll explore how the Kenyan education system evaluates and categorizes students' achievements.

Grading in Kenya varies across different levels of education. Each stage has its unique grading system, reflecting the academic expectations and the transition points in a student's educational journey.

Let us start

Academic Grading in Kenya for Primary Schools

Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)

The KCPE results are a critical milestone for primary school students in Kenya. These results determine their progress to secondary school and which high school they will join. The KCPE grading system uses a scale from zero to 100, represented by different letter grades, from A to E. Here's a breakdown of the Kenya primary school grading system:

  • A: Represents a score of 80 - 100
  • A-: Indicates a score of 75 - 79
  • B+: Corresponds to a score of 70 - 74
  • B: Denotes a score of 65 - 69
  • B-: Represents a score of 60 - 64
  • C+: Signifies a score of 55 - 59
  • C: Reflects a score of 50 - 54
  • C-: Corresponds to a score of 45 - 49
  • D+: Indicates a score of 40 - 44
  • D: Represents a score of 35 - 39
  • D-: Denotes a score of 30 - 34
  • E: Signifies a score below 30

These grades determine the high school a candidate will attend, setting the stage for their future academic path.

Academic Grading in Kenyan Secondary Schools

In Kenyan secondary schools, the grading system is akin to that of primary schools, utilizing a 12-point numeric scale. This scale ranges from the highest to the lowest grade, with each grade representing a specific score. Here's the high school grading system in Kenya:

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

Secondary schools also classify subjects into five groups. These subject groups help students decide their course of study. Here are the subject groups and their importance:

Group I

  • English
  • Kiswahili
  • Mathematics

These are compulsory subjects for all students.

Group II

Students must choose at least two subjects from this group, which include:

  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • General Science

Group III

This group contains five humanities subjects; students must select at least one from this category. The subjects include:

  • History and Government
  • Geography
  • Christian Religious Education
  • Islamic Religious Education
  • Hindu Religious Education

Group IV

The fourth group includes 11 subjects, and students can choose from:

  • Home Science
  • Art and Design
  • Agriculture
  • Woodwork
  • Metalwork
  • Building Construction
  • Power Mechanics
  • Electricity
  • Drawing and Design
  • Aviation Technology
  • Computer Studies

Group V

This group comprises languages and business studies, offering options such as:

  • French
  • German
  • Arabic
  • Kenya Sign Language
  • Music
  • Business Studies

Each subject within these groups has its unique grading system.

Grading for Specific Subjects

Let's explore the grading systems for some specific subjects:

Chemistry

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

History and Government

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

Geography

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

Christian Religious Education (CRE)

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

Agriculture

  • A: Score of 12
  • A-: Score of 11
  • B+: Score of 10
  • B: Score of 9
  • B-: Score of 8
  • C+: Score of 7
  • C: Score of 6
  • C-: Score of 5
  • D+: Score of 4
  • D: Score of 3
  • D-: Score of 2
  • E: Score of 1

Special Grades

In some cases, the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) may not award a mean grade for various reasons, signified by different letters:

  • U: The candidate needed to meet the criteria for a certificate award.
  • W: The examining body has withheld a candidate's results for various reasons.
  • X: The candidate was absent throughout the exams.
  • Y: The examining body canceled the candidate's results due to irregularities.
  • Z: The candidate did not meet the registration requirements.

Grading System for Universities in Kenya

Universities and colleges in Kenya have grading systems, particularly for Continuous Assessment Tests (CATs) and final exams. The scoring criteria may vary slightly among institutions and degree levels. Here is a general overview:

  • 70 and above A
  • 60 to 69: B
  • 50 to 59: C
  • 40 to 49: D
  • 00 to 39: E

For the final degree classification, universities often employ the following system:

  • First Class Honours: 70 and above
  • Second Class Honours (upper): 60 to 69
  • Second Class Honours (lower): 50 to 59
  • Pass: 40 to 49

Some private universities use the Grade Point Average (GPA) system, where grades are calculated based on the average of all earned grades. This system's highest score is an A+, and the scale runs from 0 to 4.

READ ALSO: How to Apply for HEF University Loans and Scholarships Without National ID in Kenya

Conclusion

In Kenya, academic grading systems are the foundation upon which students build their educational paths. These systems, from primary school through university, provide a clear roadmap for students' progress and determine their future opportunities. Understanding these grading systems is vital for students and parents navigating the Kenyan education landscape. From KCPE to university GPA, the Kenyan grading journey shapes countless students' academic and professional destinies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is academic grading in Kenya structured for primary and secondary education?

Academic grading in Kenya for primary and secondary education is primarily based on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations. KCPE results determine the high school a candidate will join, using a grading system from A to E. KCSE grades are based on a numeric scale, with a grading system similar to the primary level.

What subjects are included in the different groups for Kenyan secondary school students?

Kenyan secondary school students have subjects classified into five groups. Group I includes compulsory subjects like English, Kiswahili, and Mathematics. Group II comprises sciences such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and General Science. Group III comprises humanities like History and Government, Geography, Religious Education, and more. Group IV includes practical subjects, while Group V covers languages and business studies.

What are the exceptional grades in the Kenyan academic grading system?

Exceptional grades in the Kenyan grading system are represented by letters like 'U,' 'W,' 'X,' 'Y,' and 'Z.' These grades indicate specific situations: 'U' denotes not meeting certification criteria, 'W' indicates withheld results, 'X' represents candidate absence, 'Y' signifies result cancellation due to irregularities, and 'Z' indicates not meeting registration requirements.

How does the grading system work for universities in Kenya?

Universities in Kenya use a grading system that typically includes A, B, C, D, and E. These grades correspond to specific percentage score ranges. For final degree classifications, universities use the same grading system, with a First Class Honours category for scores of 70 and above, followed by Second Class Honours (upper and lower) and a Pass category.

What is the importance of earning a first-class honors degree in Kenya?

Earning a first-class honors degree in Kenya can open various opportunities, such as sponsored master's degree programs, preference by some employers as exceptional problem solvers, and increased chances of winning scholarships for graduate studies abroad.

Can you explain the difference between retakes and supplementary exams in university?

    • Retake: A retake involves re-enrolling in a course unit where a student previously failed to attain a satisfactory score. The student needs to relearn the course material and retake the examination. A retake impacts the student's final degree score.
    • Supplementary Exam: A supplementary exam is authorized by the university senate and is taken by students who came close to passing but still need to satisfy the examiner in the regular end-of-semester exams. Supplementary exams typically have a set percentage pass mark and must be taken within three months of the regular exams.

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Joseph Richard Joseph is a graduate of Mathematics and Computer Science (Applied Option). With expertise in Technology and Finance, he brings his knowledge to the field, demonstrating an authoritative understanding of these interrelated areas. Joseph is pursuing a Master's in Software Engineering, further expanding his skill set.