Measurement of Essential Skills in Mathematics: A Comparative Analysis of SSC (Grade-X) and GCE (O-Level) Exam Papers

Dr. Muhammad Akhtar Kang, Dr. Ahmad Saeed


The basic aim of any education system is the development of overall personality of a child but major focus of school education remains on the intellectual development of students. Mathematics is a compulsory subject in the school curriculum and is very effective in cognitive development, but, it does so if taught and assessed properly. SSC exams are very important for students as they are gauged on the basis of their results in these exams. Due to the importance of these exams, the major focus of teaching/learning process in the schools remains on achieving the highest possible grades in the exams. It is therefore, very important to have a deep investigation of the exam papers in order to know weather the items of these papers are measuring essential mathematical skills or not. To achieve the purpose, this study has scrutinized the papers of SSC (Grade-10) for the years 2014/2015, set by Board of Secondary Education Karachi. Items used in these papers were examined and categorized according to the levels of Mathematical Assessment Task Hierarchy (MATH) taxonomy. These items were then compared with the items of GCE (O-Level) mathematics papers, serving as benchmark papers in this study, to highlight the shortcomings. The results of the study revealed that the items of SSC papers are highly biased towards A1 (Factual Knowledge) and A2 (Routine Procedures) categories of the taxonomy. The study concluded that these items assess knowledge of facts and algorithms only and do not measure essential mathematical skills (involvement of higher levels of thinking processes) of students. As, the papers of board exams highly affect teaching/learning process, it is recommended to improve the items of papers so that essential mathematical skills can be measured. The study recommends focusing on application and problem solving skills rather than the capacity of memorization because with this practice thinking habits can not be inculcated among students which are necessary to compete with other nations in this era of globalization.


assessment items, cognitive demands, essential skills, intellectual development

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License