MATSEC Support Unit Reports: SEC & Matriculation Certificate Exams
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The MATSEC Support Unit publishes yearly statistical reports for both SEC and Matriculation Certificate examinations. These reports present substantial information about candidates’ performance in these examinations.
2016 was the twentieth anniversary since the Matriculation Certificate was established as the requirement for admission to undergraduate courses at the University of Malta. This was and opportunity to consider certain trends in the regulations, registrations, results and other statistical data over a reasonable number of years, the Unit said.
“Over the years the regulations became less rigid but still demanding in order to allow more students who had the potential to follow tertiary level courses to do so. Indeed, in the first session of the Matriculation Certificate in 1997 the regulations required candidates to satisfy the criteria for the award of the certificate in one session, which included the September supplementary session.”
The Unit said that if they narrowly failed to do so, they were allowed to sit for one subject in the next session to satisfy all the criteria. In subsequent years this allowance was extended to two years.
In addition, from 1997 to 2009, candidates who wanted to sit for one subject only could do so provided that it was an Advanced level but passes in single subjects did not count for the award of the Matriculation Certificate. Then in 2010 candidates were allowed to sit for single subjects in both Advanced and Intermediate level subjects.
This was an option from which many candidates profited immediately. In 2012, there was a drastic change in the regulations, the May and September sittings became two separate sessions and candidates were allowed to satisfy the criteria for the award of the certificate over five years, the Unit said.
“An unintended outcome of this change was that many students of Sixth Form schools and colleges started to sit for Matriculation examinations in September after they had finished their first year at school and before they had obtained a mature understanding of the subjects which they attempted. In fact, 1181 candidates (39.9%) used the September 2016 session as their first sit.”
The Report shows that comparing the registration data of the 4026 candidates in 2016 with that of 3634 candidates in 2006, one finds that some Advanced level subjects have become slightly more popular while others have suffered significant losses. “For example, in 2016 there were 2.1%, 2.4% and 3.0% more candidates sitting for Biology, Chemistry and Maltese respectively. On the other hand there were 2.3%, 3.6% and 3.8% fewer candidates in English, Computing and Accounting respectively in 2016,” it said.
However the biggest losses were in Physics and Pure Mathematics, with 4.8% and 7.8% less candidates in 2016 respectively. According to the Report the reasons for these gains and losses may be various and complex but it is important to carry out research to identify them and to stem the negative trend.
At Intermediate level, the introduction of Psychology in 2013 attracted many students who used to opt for other humanities subjects in previous years. In fact in 2016, 25.6% of all candidates sat for Psychology while Religious Knowledge, Sociology and Philosophy suffered losses of 6.1%, 6.7% and 10.8% respectively when the 2006 figures are taken into account.
The results data show that the gender gap persists. This Report gives detailed results by subject and gender separately for the May and September sessions and for the overall pass rate. These data show differences in performance by males and females in the various subjects.
“Perhaps the most telling difference is between the percentages of 18-year-old males and females who obtained the Matriculation Certificate in 2016. Overall, a record of 28.2% of children born in 1998 were awarded the certificate, however there is still a very large gap of 14.6% between the successful males and females which has persisted over the last twenty years,” the Report said.
The full version of the MC statistical report can accessed through this link