The relief was palpable, the excitement noticeable, but at the end of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) today the discussion was about the Mathematics Paper.
The students, some as young as ten, had gathered outside the gates of the various secondary schools which served as examination centres from as early as 7 a.m. for the 9 o’clock scheduled start of the national examination. There were 3, 525 students comprising 1,784 males and 1,741 females.
There was the anticipated anxiety, but most looked forward to the test that determines which secondary school they will attend.
However, by the time it was over, many of the students were apprehensive about their performance in the Mathematics Paper.
“The Maths was hard. The English was okay, the composition was okay, but the Maths was hard,” said Samya Hurley, a ten-year-old St Winfred’s Primary School student who was “so happy the studying and looking at books was over for now”.
The situation was the same for Tajae Lee of Vauxhall Primary, who was described by his mother Sherry St Helene as a mathematician.
Imagine her surprise when he told her that ‘the Maths was so hard’.
“It would have to be hard if he say it hard because he comes first in class and loves his Maths. He is a mathematician who always trying to embarrass yuh when it comes to figures,” St Helene told Barbados TODAY.
The report was the same from Hindsbury Primary students Danielle Clarke and Gabriel Franklin who, as they walked out through the gates of Combermere School where she sat the examination, told Barbados TODAY the English Paper was a breeze but the Mathematics Paper proved to be a challenge.
Aaliyah-Janai Ward of Lawrence T Gay, who hopes to attend Combermere, boasted of how quickly she answered the questions on the Grammar Paper, but that the story was different when it was time to do the Maths.
“I had to really read the Mathematics Paper carefully, but I missed out about two questions,” Ward said.
“The Maths was a little hard but I got through. I tried to read the questions carefully,” Ward’s friend and schoolmate Ebony Smith added.
But for Kerry Grannum, who aspires to attend Ellerslie Secondary, some aspects of the Mathematics Paper were simply “okay”.
Olujimi-Chumachienda Layne of Lawrence T Gay Primary had mixed feelings about the test, but had no doubt which of the two papers was more difficult.
Her mother Marsha Hinds-Layne has been an opponent of the BSSEE and has advocated for its abolishment.
Nothing she heard today from her dyslexic daughter changed her mind about the Common Entrance examination.
“Now, standing next to a young lady who is dyslexic and who has struggled with this process, I am definitely convinced now that we can find a better way to transition our children to secondary school. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get to have those dreams because you are talking to somebody who has struggled with the basics of learning to read and the things that dyslexics struggle with,” the mother said.
“So I know that this exam is not going to be a representation of what she has done. It is just a representation of things that we are asking her to do, that she doesn’t necessarily do in the way that we are asking her to do them,” she added.