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100% Failure Rate On University of Liberia's Admission Exam

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the little-johnny-still-can't-read dept.

Education 308

slew writes "Apparently none of the 24K+ students who sat for the 2013 Liberia University entrance exam got a passing mark, and fewer than a hundred managed to pass either the english (pass level 70%) or math (pass level 50%) sections required to qualify to be part of the normal class of 2k-3k students admitted every year... Historically, the pass rate has been about 20-30% and in recent years, the test has been in multiple-guess format to facilitate grading. The mathematics exam generally focuses on arithmetic, geometry, algebra, analytical geometry and elementary statistic and probability; while the English exam generally focuses on grammar, sentence completion, reading comprehension and logical reasoning. However, as a testament to the over-hang of a civil war, university over-crowding, corruption, social promotion, the admission criteria was apparently temporarily dropped to 40% math and 50% English to allow the provisional admission of about 1.6K students. And people are calling foul."

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English is Hard (4, Funny)

dcollins (135727) | about a year ago | (#44683411)

"fewer than a hundred managed to pass the either the english"

Re:English is Hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683437)

"the admission criteria was apparently temporarily dropped"

Re:English is Hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683759)

Good one. And why would university overcrowding be given as reason to lower admission standards? Slew fails yet again, this time on the "logical reasoning" criterion.

Re:English is Hard (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683501)

Still 100 more than America would mange.

Re:English is Hard (4, Funny)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year ago | (#44683689)

Hmmm... "...sentence completion, reading comprehension and logical reasoning..."

"Mange" is a French word, so this is un sentence Franglais.

"Mange" means eat, so "more" is probably a misspelling of "morels", a kind of mushroom. Therefore "America" is also a typo for "Americans", and "than" likewise "that". "Would" is the wrong verb here; it should be "could". An easy mistake for a non-native speaker to make.

Given that, the missing bit of the sentence is at the front.

Answer: "There are still 100 morels that Americans could eat."

Re:English is Hard (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44684011)

"Mange" is a French word, so this is un sentence Franglais.

The white American university applicants would apparently blancmange.

Re:English is Hard (2, Funny)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44683695)

Correction... English is difficult

An adjective such as 'hard' should be reserved for things that are adamantious. (but does it matter if adamantious is a word or not? you still know what it means....)

Re:English is Hard (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683783)

Correction... English is difficult

No, English is the hard substance you put on a ball that makes it spin, duh!

Re:English is Hard (5, Informative)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44684005)

Correction... English is difficult

An adjective such as 'hard' should be reserved for things that are adamantious. (but does it matter if adamantious is a word or not? you still know what it means....)

And they said that William F. Buckley was dead.

Actually, "adamantious" is a word more applicable to physical objects. "Hard" in the sense of "English is a language that is hard to master" is well within the bounds of acceptable usage according to the dictionaries I have.

Re:English is Hard (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44684043)

Correction... English is difficult

An adjective such as 'hard' should be reserved for things that are adamantious. (but does it matter if adamantious is a word or not? you still know what it means....)

OK... in that case would you care to give me a list of all the other words that are incorrectly listed as polysemous in the Oxford English Dictionary? Should "want" only refer to a lack, and never to a desire, for example?

Re:English is Hard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683697)

"fewer than a hundred managed to pass the either the english"

"...or math sections..."

One more reason that such systems make no sense. (3, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#44683439)

If you have to have an admissions exam for a university, access to any university, or to secondary level education, something is wrong with the education system. Doubly so if it gives rise to the faulty concept of educational streaming(the concept of shaping people's entire lives through test scores and controls on education acccess).

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683447)

Sounds like somebody didn't make it into a good college.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44683453)

If you have to have an admissions exam for a university, access to any university, or to secondary level education, something is wrong with the education system.

Why??? No, seriously... what makes you say that?

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683671)

What he probably means, but does not express fully, is that the filtering should happen at the end of secondary school (high school, whatever the name is in the country of your preference) instead of at the beginning of university. If you manage to pass the exams of the highest level of secondary school; shouldn't that indicate that you are ready for university? In the Netherlands we only have exit exams in secondary school and if you manage to pass the highest level (called VWO or liberally translated: preparation for scientific education) you can go to any university within the Netherlands (ok; there's three different tracks and if you want to go to say the technical university to study computer science, you need the track with math, physics, etc.). All schools 'train' their students for the same exit exam and as a university you know what the level is of your incoming students and what they know and don't know. Having an admission exam basically says: we don't trust the exit exam of your school or we think it tests for the wrong things.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (5, Insightful)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#44683821)

mod parent up (where are the mod points when you need them)

I think this exactly what OP meant. Secondary school should have an exit exam that is the input into your university qualification. In Germany you have three tracks each ending respectively at grade 9, 10 and 12 (used to be 13). If you take the Gymnasium track (12) and finish the exit exam you can go the the university, no questions asked. Few degrees require minimum score, such as medicine, but these are the exception. (To complete the info, the other two tracks are geared towards apprenticeships.)

In the states you can sort of get through high school without too much effort. That is basically why SAT was invented and why you have basic courses for all degrees, such as English 101. The US school system is not very good at fostering high achieving students, they focus on getting most people to average education and the "no kid left behind" policy is not helping either. I am not saying that it is bad per se, but at some point the slow learners are slowing down the bright ones.

Before anybody complains, I saw both systems first hand...

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (4, Informative)

Eivind (15695) | about a year ago | (#44684003)

Agreed. It's similar in Norway, but with the caveat that certain studies weigh the different grades differently.

Most studies just rank students based on average grades, with a bonus for those who've taken more than the required minimum of advanced courses. But a few educations prioritize certain grades higher.

For example, if you apply to become a engineer, they'll consider your grades in math and physics more important than your grades in history and gymnastics.

But they still all computer your score from the exist-exams in secondary school, so there's no entry-exams required.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683823)

Allow exit exams determine fitness? Terrible idea. In the public American educational system, it is very difficult for any teacher to give students a failing grade. To do so, paperwork must be drawn up and the teacher often has to defend the failing grade before a review panel. Count on the review panel to reverse the grade letting the student pass, and the teacher can begin worrying about his/her job security. No, any academic troubles a student might have can easily be fixed at the beginning of the next level. Ask any teacher.

Second, it's just not logical that any educational institution must accept the exit exams of another body as proof students are ready for this coursework. The variance is off the charts.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44683881)

What he probably means, but does not express fully, is that the filtering should happen at the end of secondary school (high school, whatever the name is in the country of your preference) instead of at the beginning of university. If you manage to pass the exams of the highest level of secondary school; shouldn't that indicate that you are ready for university?

Well, I do have some issue with that: imagine an University searches for a certain student profile, that is not tested by the "secondary school exit exam" (e.g. special skills or talents. Take a military academy or a music higher education school).
After all, in a civilized society, there still exist the so called "academic autonomy", does it not? (if it still does, it mean any University is free, among others, to choose whatever student profile it wants, as long as it's not based on sex/religious/gender discrimination).

Except for the extra cost (supported by the University), what's wrong with an University wishing and organizing an admission exam (if it's board decides that would be beneficial)?

Having an admission exam basically says: we don't trust the exit exam of your school or we think it tests for the wrong things.

Well, that exactly so.
And I come back to my original question: what's wrong with the University not trusting the secondary school exams? Even more so as the mistrust seems to be well placed.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (4, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | about a year ago | (#44684027)

You're just coming from different viewpoints. Universities in Germany are overwhelmingly financed by the state. As such, it's reasonable to ask that they admit students according to a objective, measurable standard as opposed to "whomever they like".

The latter would open the door wide for corruption, it has to be tempting for a private university to admit the children of well-known rich people, for example, both for the PR, and for the potential funding. That's incompatible with a meritocracy.

A anonymously graded entry-exam would be fine. But in my experience, the admission-process to many private universities is not really anonymous, and it seems to me the scope for corruption and basically choosing the richest kid rather than the best-qualified one, is high. (plenty of mediocre sports-stars seems to get in no problem, for example)

That's fine if you see university as a private institution that exists to do whatever it wants to do, including maximize profit. It's more of a problem if your univiersities are publicly funded and exist in order to educate students, prioritizing the best-qualified ones.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about a year ago | (#44684057)

Well, I do have some issue with that: imagine an University searches for a certain student profile, that is not tested by the "secondary school exit exam" (e.g. special skills or talents. Take a military academy or a music higher education school).

There is no reason why you cannot have both. Where I live, most university courses use the exit exams with weighting of the grades based on the course.
Some will in addition have an admission test based on the students specific skills and talents. Music and fine arts are two examples.
In addition some courses will require minimum grades above "passed".

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

Eivind (15695) | about a year ago | (#44683987)

Indeed. Why have grades in secondary school at all ? There's basically two points to it. One is to give the students feedback on their performance. The other is to make it possible to (roughly!) sort students based on skills for higher education.

If the grades can't be used for the second purpose, you might aswell drop them entirely, and instead just give the student a summary of his weak and strong sides.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683989)

Being top student with great aptitude for history is not the same as being the top students with great aptitude for math. Entrance exams measure knowledge and skills in area that you are really going to study. So, you do not kick out great mathematician for weaker essay writing skills.

What you suggests would mean bigger mismatch between study subject and students abilities.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#44683483)

If you have to have an admissions exam for a university, access to any university, or to secondary level education, something is wrong with the education system. Doubly so if it gives rise to the faulty concept of educational streaming(the concept of shaping people's entire lives through test scores and controls on education access).

What's the alternative? Let anyone study anything?

In countries where universities are heavily subsidized, it's too expensive to pay several more years (and the most expensive ones, due to labs, equipment and higher paid teachers) for people who have a proven an inability or unwillingness to study.

And the alternative, let anyone in and raise the price to control the excess of population, is much less fair than exams.

Eventually it will be possible to receive the entire university education online and almost free. At that point I will advocate for free access. Until that happens, if you want my taxes to pay for 9/10 of a kid's university, I'm going to ask for proof he is capable and willing to study.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

DUdsen (545226) | about a year ago | (#44683639)

The problem here is the primary education system, if you defend primary education(or let the anti-science crowd run the show) your not able to run a sensible university system for the general masses to the point where you need to be able to import skilled workers while the unemployment lines grow,

With a effective primary and secondary education system pretty much everyone who apply will be ready for university levels, and you can generally depend on primary and secondary grades to Scandinavia works this way for instance, and most of Europe tries to adopt to that model. And were talking about countries where universities are far more subsidized then the US here.

The problem here is either that the primary education system was teaching different facts then the university exams expected, or that someone screwed up on the auto-grading multiple choice system(multiple choice exams are notorious for being either easy to game or rigged toward memorization of very specific phases).

This has to be done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683787)

The problem here is the primary education system; if you defend primary education -- or let the anti-science crowd run the show -- you're not able to run a sensible university system for the general masses... to the point where you need to import skilled workers, while unemployment lines grow. run on sentence; sentences end in periods; inappropriate punctuation

With an effective primary and secondary education system pretty much everyone who applies will be ready for university levels, and you can generally depend on primary and secondary grades too; Scandinavia works this way for instance, and most of Europe tries to adopt that model. We're talking about countries where universities are far more subsidized than the US. vowels are preceded by 'an', not 'a'; 'everyone'..'applies'; 'too', not 'to'; do not begin sentences with a conjunction; run on sentence; inappropriate punctuation; hanging trailing clause

The problem is either that the primary education system was teaching different facts than the university exams expected, or that someone screwed up on the auto-grading of the multiple choice exams (multiple choice exams are notorious for being either easy to game or rigged toward memorization of very specific patterns). grammar: 'here is either the' OR 'is either that the'; 'that', not 'then'; grammar on auto-grading phrase; no space preceding the parenthetical clause; 'patterns', not 'phases'; run on sentence.

Just saying... pot, kettle, black.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (5, Informative)

Jesrad (716567) | about a year ago | (#44683741)

Letting anyone study anything is what we do here in France: public universities do not have admission exams nor selection process, their only limit enforced is their total capacity. The result is that the selection process is simply post-poned.

For example in medical universities, the real admission exam is at the end of first year instead of being at the start (if you've seen the movie The Adversary, the protagonist is noted for having redone the first year of medical university twelve times in a row, and never bothered attending the exam, until he simply faked being a MD).

A sick side effect is that for many studies (liberal arts ?) the selection is post-poned until after graduation, when those people enter the job market for the first time. We have lots and lots of students in litterary, artistic, sports and historical studies, lots more than jobs in those domains, while sectors like restaurants, tourism and construction have a hard time finding workforce. Tuition fees are heavily subsidised so universities benefit from keeping students as long as they can, students don't face any real test beyond what is enough to maintain the school's reputation, so all too often they pursue studies not as a step into a lifetime project, but rather as a passing interest, intellectual endeavours are highly regarded while anything to do with manual labor, entrepreneurship or commercial operations is dismissed as being much less prestigious ; and then the students are left on their own to face the hard cold reality of the marketplace.

Another consequence is that there are many people who are overqualified but inexperienced competing for jobs that require no specific qualifications, which often means having no diploma = no job at all, further inciting young people to get into college - any college that will have room left. As a result we spend less per student compared to neighbouring countries, and we may well have the most over-diplomed unemployed people [huffingtonpost.fr] on Earth, and the most professionally miserable [scienceshumaines.com] employed people of the planet - doctors in all kinds of subjects, people with university baggage worthy of a college teacher, even engineers with high technical skills, and whose best career prospects are flipping burgers, managing office menial paperwork or, for the lucky few, teaching in junior high school.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (3, Insightful)

DrEasy (559739) | about a year ago | (#44684047)

On the other hand, the same overqualified people also make better decisions when voting or keeping in check their government. You have people who understand the world surrounding them (and well beyond their borders) and who aren't prone to democratic apathy (and I guess that's why frequent strikes are a well-known French phenomenon).

The economic/employment viewpoint is certainly a valid one, and I agree with you to a great extent, but it's good to look at the civic one as well. Ideally, maybe a great portion of the people out of high school should go to a vocational school first, then go work, make some money, gain some experience, and only then at some point spend some time at university to gain a better understanding of the world. With MOOCs now, this should be easier hopefully.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1, Insightful)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year ago | (#44683793)

All the uni has to do is only accept the top nn% of students, taking the rep of each student's alma mater and the student's other accomplishments (including having the persistence & drive to have overcome major obstacles to their education) into account -- basically what the top American universities do, as many no longer require SAT scores.

That method tends to work much better for identifying which students are bright, willing to study and work hard than relying on standardized testing. A lot of this is simply that being talented at taking standardized tests, studying how to perform well on them, certain disabilities affecting performance with a question type (like essay or multiple-choice), and so forth can have a *huge* impact on the test results. That's why so many major universities have stopped requiring SAT scores and rely more on the student's history.

Also, don't forget that a college education wasn't intended to be vocational or a matter of fact memorization as in high school, which is what online classes are good for -- and a student is missing out on the main purpose if he/she is handling college that way. College is best for giving the student the personal experience & knowledge that they'd otherwise have to travel the world for a few years to achieve, and that we can't truly learn just through reading, watching videos, or communicating remotely -- it takes dealing with different kinds of people on a daily basis when still young enough to have malleable beliefs, reacting to ideas they'd never considered, seeing others react and discussing it at length... The person returns home a much wiser, more knowledgeable citizen that is harder for politicians or charismatic authority figures to manipulate, better-equipped to handle personal or societal crises, more able to see the most likely long-term results if a politician is elected or law is passed, far more capable of grasping why people do things or act in ways they'd never consider & knowing how to help or deal with them...

Or, as someone I saw put it once: it's the training-wheels period for being a great adult citizen likely to improve their society, not just live in it.

Maybe it would be better for you to say that you'll be willing to help foot the bill for *vocational* education, as that's more the kind of "college" you're thinking of -- it's remotely not as beneficial for society as a genuine education is (IF done right via having students take a wide variety of classes they might otherwise overlook), but it'll churn out more obedient, good employees.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683835)

In countries where universities are heavily subsidized, it's too expensive to pay several more years (and the most expensive ones, due to labs, equipment and higher paid teachers) for people who have a proven an inability or unwillingness to study.

I'm currently enrolled in an engineering course in a heavily subsidized university. I've been taking that course for about 10 years now, and currently I'm only missing a couple of courses before I finish my degree.

I don't attend classes. I study when I can make time for it, on my own, in my house. Then, come the finals, all I do is pop up on campus and take the exams.

So, although my university is heavily subsidized, I actually don't cost my school anything, and I essentially pay the tuition for the priviledge of taking that school's exams.

So, no. It is not too expensive to pay several more years for people who, according to you and yourself alone, "have a proven inability or unwillingness to study", particularly when people like me spend thousands of dollars for the priviledge of, once or twice a year, sit on a small room for 4 hours and take an exam.

You should refrain from spewing uneducated opinions.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (4, Interesting)

longk (2637033) | about a year ago | (#44683863)

There's different ways to deal with that. The university I studied at allowed anyone to enter the first year. You could however only proceed to the second year if you completed the first year with a minimum score.

IMHO this is more fair than an entrance exam because you get judged on your ability to keep up with the particular program, not on how shitty your previous school/program was.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (4, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44683517)

So you think that someone that can't even begin to comprehend the course material should be allowed in just because they want to go there?
When there are more qualified applicants than available slots, you need to limit the number you admit to supportable levels.
On the other hand, you shouldn't let unqualified people that just don't have the requirements because they can't succeed, and will just be wasting resources, especially when there aren't enough slots for the qualified ones.

In this case, there were no qualified applicants. Do you expect them to repeat grade school & high school math and teach remedial English just so they could admit new 'students'? That's a waste the colleges resources. Colleges and Universities are Advanced or Higher education. If you don't have the lesser ones yet, you can't be taught the next level. It's like trying to build a skyscraper without a foundation. It will fail and topple, wasting a lot of time, effort, and other resources.

So no, I can't agree with your opinion that it's a failure of a university to have an entrance exam. Rather, if it's any ones fault, it's a failure of the prior education system or students that makes an exam necessary.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683597)

I can't agree with your opinion that it's a failure of a university to have an entrance exam. Rather, if it's any ones fault, it's a failure of the prior education system or students that makes an exam necessary.

Well then it's a good thing that's exactly what he said.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (4, Insightful)

Zedrick (764028) | about a year ago | (#44683531)

It does make sense. If you can't demonstrate that you're ready for higher education, then it's just a waste of time going to university (or even college).

And what's that about educational streaming? I didn't do too well in highschool (was more interested in computers and playing the guitar). After "gratuating" I spent a year or two doing silly jobs, then I got tired of i and a few exam for the subjects i had ignored in highschool, but needed to get admitted to the universities. Also, I took something which I think is might be a bit like the US SAT (and got high scores) to make sure I would be admitted, while other people had extra going-to-uni-points due to work experience. No streamlining there.

It's much worse in countries where you have to pay to get an education, which means that there are young people who can't afford going to university (or college) even though they might be better suited for it than their dumb but rich neighbours,

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683705)

> And what's that about educational streaming?

It forces children to decide their life course as young as 14 or 15 years old.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683769)

Great. That's just what we need, people who absolutely detest their job because they were forced to choose too early.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44683831)

It's much worse in countries where you have to pay to get an education, which means that there are young people who can't afford going to university (or college) even though they might be better suited for it than their dumb but rich neighbours,

Being rich doesn't mean you pass and get your degree, even if you can afford to be there. Beauty is skin deep; stupid goes to the bone.

Egalitarianism is a great social philosophy in theory, but it fails pretty quickly in the face of inequality of ability. You can guarantee equality of opportunity, and most modern societies try to do this - this is why there are scholarchips and BEOGs (Basic Educational Opportunity Grants), but there is no way, given inequality of ability, to guarantee equality of outcome.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683901)

>Being rich doesn't mean you pass and get your degree [...]

No, but in my experience at a European High School and University, a mediocre student from rich parents can
get all the tutoring they need, bumping their grades/ability to university levels.

OTOH, a student from less than average means parents would have to be rather smart as there is (in general)
not much money for tutoring or interest in grades etc from the parents.

I still agree that dumb rich kids cannot get through university, but the picture is a lot more complicated
than you suggest.

> there is no way, given inequality of ability, to guarantee equality of outcome.

Why yes there is: thanks to lots of tutoring, it is possible (to some extent) to make
up for the gap in ability.

This does not work when the ability gap is too wide, but does skew the number of
rich kids in universities.

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683631)

so, how's life at starbucks these days, champ?

Re:One more reason that such systems make no sense (1)

Camembert (2891457) | about a year ago | (#44683767)

I studied university level engineering, in my country that comes with a pretty heavy admissions exam. Back then, we were with a group of 5 secondary school students preparing for the exams.

Considering the real studies afterwards, I am pretty sure that 95% of the people who dit not pass the admissions exam (be it by talent or commitment) would never pass the first year of the studies. In a way the admissions exam saved them a year of time, and saved the country a lot of money (I come from a country where education is heavily subsidised).

What is the real problem here? (-1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44683449)

If nobody passes the test, then it seems to me that the problem is with the test, not the people. What are they going to do? Close the university? The test isn't the goal, selecting students for admission is the goal.

This is just another story that should not even have been posted here.

Re:What is the real problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683467)

You're not a decision maker.

Re:What is the real problem here? (3, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44683491)

The test isn't the goal, selecting students for admission is the goal.

Really? Selecting candidates that don't have the prerequisite knowledge to understand what's being taught? Wouldn't this be a waste of time/money?

Re:What is the real problem here? (2)

Demonantis (1340557) | about a year ago | (#44683655)

You have to remember that a test measures several levels of knowledge by having a range of easy to hard questions. A properly performed test on a random population should result in a normal distribution around a defined average. That average is solely based on the test so it has no bearing on the actual intelligence of the population. The test is more sorting the population then comparing it to a standard.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44683887)

You have to remember that a test measures several levels of knowledge by having a range of easy to hard questions. A properly performed test on a random population should result in a normal distribution around a defined average. That average is solely based on the test so it has no bearing on the actual intelligence of the population. The test is more sorting the population then comparing it to a standard.

Actually, no: it should result in a normal distribution around an average, not a defined average. The range of the resulting distribution is then compared to a standard. In this case, the range failed to overlap the standard boundary, and so everyone flunked out.

If you futz with the standard based on the observed average every year, then you are effectively cheating the people in better performing years by causing the higher education to contain remedial elements that the higher performing students already know, and you move the sliding window of the top end of what can be learned at the institution downward.

This is effectively the same reason there are admissions tests in Japan as well, although in Japan, the majority pass, so it ends up being a numbers cut-off at the top end of the range instead, for the number of available slots.

If everyone in Liberia who took the tests had passed to the acceptance standard, they'd have to institute a similar numbers based cut-off to that of Japan, since there would not have been sufficient slots for all potential students.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44683949)

You have to remember that a test measures several levels of knowledge by having a range of easy to hard questions. A properly performed test on a random population should result in a normal distribution around a defined average. That average is solely based on the test so it has no bearing on the actual intelligence of the population. The test is more sorting the population then comparing it to a standard.

Statistics and distributions or not: have you heard of the zone of the proximal development? [wikipedia.org] . Jump too far outside it and the student is lost and you'll be wasting your time - has absolutely nothing to do with democracy or fairness or statistics, means and standard deviations.

I don't care s/he obtained the maximum score if this maximum is below the threshold: the student will be just the most brilliant from a bunch of exam failures.

Re:What is the real problem here? (2)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | about a year ago | (#44683493)

If nobody passes the test, then it seems to me that the problem is with the test, not the people. What are they going to do? Close the university? The test isn't the goal, selecting students for admission is the goal.

We need to drop our standards and make everything in life easier so more people can pass through with out trying?

If you actually read the article, you'd know what they're going to do.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44683915)

We need to drop our standards and make everything in life easier so more people can pass through with out trying?

If you actually read the article, you'd know what they're going to do.

Time to reread 'Harrison Bergeron' by Kurt Vonnegut...

Re:What is the real problem here? (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#44683509)

If nobody passes the test, then it seems to me that the problem is with the test, not the people. What are they going to do? Close the university? The test isn't the goal, selecting students for admission is the goal.

This is just another story that should not even have been posted here.

1 - There are people in the other courses even if no one gets in this year.
2 - The objective is not to select the least incompetent but to select people who posses the knowledge required to adequately receive the teachings given in the first year.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

AVee (557523) | about a year ago | (#44683853)

2 - The objective is not to select the least incompetent but to select people who posses the knowledge required to adequately receive the teachings given in the first year.

In this case I'd say it would be more worthwhile to select the people with the skill required and teach them whatever they are missing along the line. In Liberia not educating people because there primary education sucks seems a really stupid decision to me.

Re:What is the real problem here? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683565)

Yes, the test must be to blame, it's nothing to do with the IQ of Liberians...
After all, we are "all the same", the T.V. told me. (And you, obviously...)

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#44683657)

IQ and education are not directly related, however university entrance exam material does depend on education. And given the crap Liberia has been through, most of their kids are likely not educated sufficiently, as they've had other more pressing needs, like say, staying alive.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#44683715)

If nobody passes the test, then it seems to me that the problem is with the test, not the people.

Too afraid to tell people they're stupid? No, it's not you fault. We're expecting too much.
It's thinking like this that leads to grade inflation, and ultimately to even the most mundane of jobs requiring a college degree.

Maybe this wouldn't bother me if going to college didn't cost thousands of dollars.
Plus I love the idea of spending four years of my life studying to get a piece of paper to be taken seriously for a job I could have done while still in high school.

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44683739)

Too afraid to tell people they're stupid? No, it's not you fault. We're expecting too much.

If you think that a test can gauge "stupidity", you're stupid.

Humans have got voodoo brain measurement down to a tee. And the more people are admitted to work/study based on the results of multiple guess tests, the more test performance appears to correlate with life success, the more justification people make for these same tests. It's a feedback loops which no one wants to break because the modern organisation is so risk-averse and no one gets fired for doing what everyone else does.

(Before you go on a "hurr bitter" rant, I'm far better at being examined on paper than I am in real life. I'm unfairly advantaged, and I'm prepared to admit it.)

Re:What is the real problem here? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#44683985)

There's a lot of failure to spread around. But let's say that "once upon a time" there was a school for dogs. And someone tried to put a cat through the school hoping they could get a well trained cat out of it. The problem with that was that (1) the school only knew how to train dogs and (2) cats can learn but not the same things or in the same way as dogs.

Yes, I am saying the school and methods are unsuitable for the people being taught. They are a completely different people. They will not become European or American because they were taught in that way. That experiment failed long, long ago. "Everyone is equal." "Everyone is the same." "Everyone has the same potential." It's a lie. We all know it's a lie. Let's accept it and move on. I'll never be a celebrated athlete. We never have problems dealing with that reality. Why do we think that intellectual potential is any different?

My guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683451)

They screwed up the answer key when they graded the tests. It's a lot more likely than 24,000 people taking the test and none of them managing to get enough correct answers.

Re:My guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683469)

Not in Liberia (and other such countries). As hard to believe it may sound.

Re:My guess (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44683659)

What are the chances of 24K people randomly checking multiple-choice checkboxes and not a single one lucking out on an admissible grade?
Now imagine some of those 24K were actually smart, what are the chances then?

Re:My guess (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#44683665)

When you've been through years of civil war, things like this tend to suffer.

Just goes to show how dum those americans be (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683463)

This was in Boston,amI right? Liberia Universety is in Boston? Tax dis tea?

Re:Just goes to show how dum those americans be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683503)

This was in Boston,amI right? Liberia Universety is in Boston? Tax dis tea?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23843578

wrong continent, look it's in the link

Re:Just goes to show how dum those americans be (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44683525)

Seems like we have a failure of English, Geography, and Whoosh going on here.

(I was going to say geometry instead, just for laughs, but the whoosh would probably be deafening)

Re:Just goes to show how dum those americans be (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683621)

Spain. Penisula to be exact.

multiple-guess?? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683507)

"multiple-guess"

Maybe no one can pass because they're taking a multiple guess test rather than a multiple choice test.

Re:multiple-guess?? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44683601)

At one time, knowing how many students, how many questions and how many alternative answers I'd have been able to work out the probability that some number X would pass by pure luck.

Re:multiple-guess?? (1)

Corbets (169101) | about a year ago | (#44683627)

"multiple-guess"

Maybe no one can pass because they're taking a multiple guess test rather than a multiple choice test.

Actually, since moving overseas I've learned that such tests are only known as multiple guess tests over here. The term "multiple choice" simply isn't used. It could be because such tests aren't widely used in Europe, or it could be British influence, perhaps - I don't know, but I've always found it a bit odd!

Re:multiple-guess?? (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44683757)

When I was at school, the teachers called them multiple choice, the students called them multiple guess. At the time it was meant as a joke, but maybe it was really the beginning of an evolution of the English language, given that my generation are now the teachers.

Re:multiple-guess?? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about a year ago | (#44683779)

Questions have multiple choices but only one guess, so why would the Brits prefer to call it that? Maybe because choice has no letter u in it?

Re:multiple-guess?? (1)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year ago | (#44683641)

Obviously, the problem was they didn't have enough guesses on each question.

It's the Great Guess Shortage of 2013. Donate to UNICEF, so it can distribute urgently needed guesses now!

Someone else is bad at math, too (2, Insightful)

Bovius (1243040) | about a year ago | (#44683537)

For those of you who know something about statistics, consider this math problem:

A sample group of 24,000 students who think they have what it takes to go to a university take the entrance exam. Out of those 24,000, none of them pass the exam.

Let event A be a randomly selected student from this population passing the exam. Find the maximum value of P(A) that would keep the results of the sample group above within a 95% confidence interval.

Then, once you've done that, think long and hard about the reasons why nobody passed the test.

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (4, Informative)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year ago | (#44683605)

WTF?

What sample group? What does "keep the results of the sample group above within a 95% confidence interval" mean? There is no result. There is no sample group above -- you gave a population, despite calling it a sample group.

"Let event A be a randomly selected student." A student cannot be an event. You haven't given the set of possible values for "a student" to take, and you haven't specified which proper subset of the values of "a student" constitute the event.

Do you mean "24,000 students sit an exam, and all of them fail. Let A be the event that an exam result selected from this population of exam results is a pass"?

What you wrote uses statistics words, but it's ... incoherent, shall we say. Well trolled.

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (0)

Bovius (1243040) | about a year ago | (#44683661)

Nope. I agree that my wording for defining the event was poorly chosen, but I hold that it made sense. Read it again. If you don't have a good statistics textbook, for some help on sample group vs population, here's a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_(statistics) [wikipedia.org] .

Remember, a working knowledge of statistics is useful and fun!

--Summer Glau

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683955)

Did you graduated from a Liberia high school? If you find statistics fun, you SHOULD know by now the difference between population and sample; the whole country did not try to enter the university, only 24000 did, thats your population. Unless you are using them to measure the overall quality of Liberian high school, in which case you have a serious problem communicating your ideas.

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683609)

Sounds like a good application of the rule of three. The maximum P(A) is 3/24,000

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44683679)

For those of you who know something about statistics, consider this math problem:

A sample group of 24,000 students who think they have what it takes to go to a university take the entrance exam. Out of those 24,000, none of them pass the exam.

Let event A be a randomly selected student from this population passing the exam. Find the maximum value of P(A) that would keep the results of the sample group above within a 95% confidence interval.

Then, once you've done that, think long and hard about the reasons why nobody passed the test.

For those of you who know something about enigmatic idealists, consider this people problem:

A group of people who think more people deserve a service which is being rationed in proportion to demonstration of knowledge take a test. Out of all of them none of them pass the exam.

Let event A have fuck all to do with statistics. Find the motive A for reducing the difficulty of the exam in the aforementioned statements, such that parent poster is sufficiently demonstrated to be ignorant.

Then, once you've done that, think long and hard about why statisticians love concentrating on distracting numbers instead of people.

TL;DR: Bitch, please, you just suggested I assume my confirmation bias correct.

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about a year ago | (#44683719)

All it takes is for bad or missing answers to cost points.
Then you need to be very lucky to randomly select the "good answers" and only them,and then you need to be lucky in all the mandatory fields...
prob is much lower then 1/24K

Re:Someone else is bad at math, too (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#44683773)

Are you suggesting that someone is trying to make this socialist idea that people can go to University based on merit look like a failure, so they can go back to whatever elitist admission policy they had in the past?

Classics inaccessible for students .. (3, Interesting)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#44683547)

'US colleges increasingly view anything published before 1990 as 'inaccessible' for students. So much for timeless themes` ..

"For American college students, 1990 appears to be a historical cliff beyond which it is rumored some books were once written, though no one is quite sure what. Why have US colleges decided that the best way to introduce their students to higher learning is through comic books, lite lit, and memoirs?" link [theguardian.com]

admission exams ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683551)

how are these more relevant than the money that flows to the university with each student they take ?

why there are exams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683553)

If you let any idiot go to college by lowering standards then eventually the college degree is worthless. When that happens having a college degree will mean nothing. This is already happening in America. A bachelor's or 4 year college degree is worth the same as having a high school degree 50 years ago. In Liberia, it just means that elementary and high school education sucks because of the civil wars.

Failed State (3, Interesting)

hweimer (709734) | about a year ago | (#44683587)

Liberia is a failed state, ranking 174 (of 187 countries) in the Human Development Index. Probably, somebody has manipulated the admission exam for his own profit. Reminds me a bit of Robert Mugabe winning the lottery [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Failed State (2)

bluegutang (2814641) | about a year ago | (#44683691)

A failed state is not the same as a poor state. A failed state [wikipedia.org] is one that cannot perform the basic duties of a government, such as controlling its territory. All indications are that Liberia does not current have that particular issue.

That said, corruption in a developing country's entrance exams [slashdot.org] would not be surprising.

Re:Failed State (2)

hweimer (709734) | about a year ago | (#44683747)

According to the Failed State Index [wikipedia.org] compiled by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy, Libera is on par with North Korea in terms of failedness, being ranked the 24th-worst in the world and put on a "alert" level.

The Mugabe approach (2)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a year ago | (#44683613)


This "multiple guess" business is clearly preventing educated people from passing this test. I they adjust for this deficiency and make it a "singular guess" they will have pass rates that would be the envied the world over.

It what you know when you have a basic grasp of probability. If there are less possibilities, namely 1 then the probability of a single possibility as an outcome becomes very high. Look what eliminating multiple options did for Mugabe's career. His pass rates are stellar.

Re:The Mugabe approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683931)

Your cheeky scenario precludes the possibility that the question's 1 remaining option is to be graded correct when selected.
Test designers could still get pretty high indicators with sufficient numbers of questions such as:

If the following statement is true, mark the box. Leave the box empty if the statement is false.
( question )
[ ] statement is true

And other variations.

To achieve the silliness you sought, the test needs to be read-only, no options.

FP (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44683615)

Liberia is in Africa, so it must be the former colonial power's fault.

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683721)

Former slaves from the US who went to Afrika established this country. It must be the only former colony in Africa that was colonized by black (American) people.
 

Re:FP (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44683965)

So essentially, it's an American-African colony?

Re:FP (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#44683725)

I feel like I'm reading a disguised form of the "It's the white man's fault. They're holding me down!" excuse.

Re:FP (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#44684035)

It is, actually. The dominance of the descendents of American slaves who colonized Liberia over the natives triggered the first Liberian civil war, which started the chain of events which turned what had not long before been the fastest growing economy in the world into the uneducated basket case it is today. So while you may think you're being ironic and funny, Liberia does directly suffer from colonization.

Who's your uncle? (in the USA) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683683)

That's why in the USA, interviews are used instead.
Questions like who's your father? what fraternity were part of? do you know any powerful people? safeguard university entry only for establishment.
Add to that mix couple minority people and everybody is happy. Status Quo is maintained.

Metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683755)

Liberia is one of two countries not using the metric system.
I wonder if there is a relation between and lack of education :)

addd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683805)

my neighbor's mother-in-law makes $78 hourly on the computer. She has been without a job for seven months but last month her payment was $15747 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site Day34.com

The point of a University is to educate (1)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#44683813)

The whole point of a national university is to educate the populace. If you set your admission standards so high that nobody can enter, either call it a "research institute" or close the doors. Changing the pass level was the correct move. Lowering the standards may mean that a degree from the university isn't worth as much as it would be if the standards were higher, but it's still better than no university at all if we assume actual teaching takes place there.

first 4ost!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683837)

Easy solution - athletics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683885)

Start an American football or basketball program at the university. Then, they'll admit pretty much anyone regardless of actual intellectual qualification.

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683895)

lol its simples

exam fee is $24

25,000 x $24= $600,000

or 47,100,000 in liberian currency, sounds like a large portion of the university operating cost

probably embezzled by the administrators

Good paper material (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44683963)

I think that someone ought to submit a sociological article on this event to the Journal of Universal Rejection [universalrejection.org] . I'm sure the editors will find this subject matter close to their heart and that their rejection letter will be warmer that usual.

What about Remedial Classes? (2)

sir-gold (949031) | about a year ago | (#44684033)

It's possible to lower the standards of the test without lowering the standards of the school. Just require the people who scored poorly in english or math to take a few low-level math or english classes, in order to get up to where they need to be for the course of study they wish to take.

That is what my school did to boost enrollment in a few programs. They lowered the math requirement by one notch, with the stipulation that the student must take the required level of remedial math classes during the first semester

Typical governmental corruption. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44684045)

Typical governmental corruption.

The bar is raised on the entrance exams to the point no mere mortal has any chance at passing. Then, you either pay in advance for a copy of the exam and memorise the answers accordingly, or pay anyone in the later stages of evaluation to turn a blind eye.

You see it time and time again in public contracts. Either you have them write the exam tailored to you, or have the committee vote in your favour despite whatever.

If this incidents shows anything, is that either the university stuff was advertising "We're open for bribes!" by failing everyone like that, or that the previous head-of-bribes recently left his position in the university but no one else took the position or the difficulty was lowered accordingly.

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