After months of preparation, over 3,000 students are today writing the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) — commonly referred to as either the Common Entrance Examination or the 11-plus.
The figure comprises 1,680 males and 1,650 females, who are registered to sit the examination at 22 secondary schools across the island.
This morning Barbados TODAY visited exam centres in the north, south, east and west of the island.
At Princess Margaret Secondary School in St Philip there were hardly any signs of nerves as students got last minute hugs and well wishes from their parents before heading into the exam room.
“I have put in a lot of work to do this examination. I have been preparing for it,” said a confident-looking Anmar Crichlow of Hilda Skeene Primary.
An equally confident Jasmine Phillips told Barbados TODAY she had cut out all distractions, including electronics in preparation for the big day.
Among those sitting today’s exam are 11 early sitters — four males and seven females — who were granted permission to write the BSSEE at ten years of age after 13 such requests were made.
Over in the north, there was a mixture of bright smiles, a bit of nerves and confidence as students readied themselves for the examination. There were also a few late arrivals, as some were seen hustling in at the very last minute.
At Frederick Smith, students from the Welches Primary, Good Shepherd and St James Primary gathered from as early as 7:45 a.m. eagerly waiting to enter the examination room.
Parents gave hugs, kisses and last minute advice and teachers prayed with them as they sought to comfort them, even though they themselves appeared to be nervous.
A few students told Barbados TODAY they were ready for the exam and could not wait until it was over.
As students were called into the exam rooms, parents waved goodbye and promptly left the school compound.
Over at Alexandra, where students from Roland Edwards and Gordon Greenidge Primary gathered to sit their exam, parents lingered around a little longer making sure they were settled and took up seating in the school car park to wait on their charges.
Parent Sharon Clinton-Carrington said she was confident that her son would do well.
“I feel quite good knowing that he is ready for the exam. I know that he is going to do his best. We said a prayer together this morning as a family. This is my second child sitting the exam and I am confident that he is going to pass his exam. He wants to go to Coleridge & Parry and he put in all the work to get there,” she said.
Princess Bishop-Small also said she was confident her son would do well.
“I feel confident he will do well. We were preparing hard from last year and he said he wants to go to Alexandra and I believe he can get there,” she said.
At Coleridge &Parry, the students from Boscobel and All Saints Primary and Leacock’s Private School, had begun their exam, starting with the Composition at 9 a.m. sharp and appeared to be settled.
The parents brought along picnic chairs and blankets and set up camp quietly outside the school’s gate as they awaited the students’ verdict.
At all schools there was a police presence, helping to maintain order.