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How the KNEC grading system works

KNEC grades candidates who sit for 7 or more KCSE subjects during the national examinations.

The examinations’ council puts all subjects into five categories. These groups include:

Group I – These are compulsory subjects all students must sit for during exams. They include English (101), Kiswahili (102), and Mathematics (121).

Group II – The group consists of four science subjects. However, a student must sit for at least two subjects during the exams. They include Biology (231), Physics (232), Chemistry (233), and General Science (237).

Group III – The group consists of five humanities subjects. A student must sit for at least one subject during the exams. They include History and Government (311), Geography (312), Christian Religious Education (313), Islamic Religious Education (314), and Hindu Religious Education (315).

Group IV – There are eleven subjects in this group. The subjects include: Home Science (411), Art and Design (442), Agriculture (443), Woodwork (444), Metalwork (445), Building Construction (446), Power Mechanics (447), Electricity (448), Drawing and Design (449), Aviation Technology (450), and Computer Studies (451).
Group V – The groups consists of subjects from languages and business studies. They include French (501), German (502), Arabic (503), Kenya Sign Language (504), Music (511), and Business Studies (565).

A student can choose the seventh subject from Group II or Groups III, IV or V. To get a mean grade based on the KCSE grading system , KNEC averages a student’s score in all the seven (7) subjects.

The table below shows grades and marks and their corresponding points based on the current KCSE grading system.

Here is the most recent KCSE Grading System adopted for the 2020 KCSE exams:

PTS ENGLISH-101 GRADE
12 80 – 100 A
11 75 – 79 A-
10 70 – 74 B+
9 65- 69 B
8 60 – 64 B-
7 55 – 59 C+
6 50 – 54 C
5 45 – 49 C-
4 40 – 44 D+
3 35 -39 D
2 30 -34 D-
1 0 -29 E

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PTS KISWAHILI- 102 GRADE
12 78 – 100 A
11 73 – 77 A-
10 68 – 72 B+
9 63 – 67 B
8 58 – 62 B-
7 53 – 57 C+
6 48 – 52 C
5 43 – 47 C-
4 38 – 42 D+
3 33 – 37 D
2 28 – 32 D-
1 0 – 27 E

 

PTS MATHS-121 GRADE
12 70 – 100 A
11 65 – 69 A-
10 60 – 64 B+
9 55 – 59 B
8 49 – 54 B-
7 43 – 48 C+
6 37 – 42 C
5 31 – 36 C-
4 25 – 30 D+
3 19  – 24 D
2 12 – 18 D-
1 0 -11 E

 

PTS BIO-121 GRADE
12 80 – 100 A
11 75 -79 A-
10 70 – 74 B+
9 65- 69 B
8 60 – 64 B-
7 55 – 59 C+
6 50 – 54 C
5 45 – 49 C-
4 40 – 44 D+
3 35-39 D
2 30-34 D-
1 0 -29 E

 

PTS PHY-232 GRADE
12 60 – 100 A
11 55 – 59 A-
10 50 – 54 B+
9 45 – 49 B
8 40 – 44 B-
7 35 – 39 C+
6 30 – 34 C
5 25 – 29 C-
4 20 – 24 D+
3 15 – 19 D
2 10 – 14 D-
1 0 – 9 E

 

PTS CHEM-233  GRADE
12 65 – 100 A
11 60 – 64 A-
10 55 – 59 B+
9 50 – 54 B
8 45 – 49 B-
7 40 – 44 C+
6 35 – 39 C
5 30 – 34 C-
4 25 – 29 D+
3 20 – 24 D
2 15 – 19 D-
1 0 – 14 E

 

PTS HIS- 311 GRADE
12 80 – 100 A
11 75 – 79 A-
10 70 – 74 B+
9 65 – 69 B
8 60 – 64 B-
7 55 – 59 C+
6 50 – 54 C
5 45 – 49 C-
4 40 – 44 D+
3 35 – 39 D
2 30 – 34 D-
1 0 -29 E

 

PTS GEO-312 GRADE
12 66 – 100 A
11 61 – 65 A-
10 56 – 60 B+
9 51 – 55 B
8 46 – 50 B-
7 41 – 45 C+
6 36 – 40 C
5 31 – 35 C-
4 26 – 30 D+
3 21 – 25 D
2 16 – 20 D-
1 0 – 15 E

 

PTS CRE-313 GRADE
12 90 – 100 A
11 85 – 89 A-
10 80 – 84 B+
9 75 – 79 B
8 70 – 74 B-
7 65 – 69 C+
6 60 – 64 C
5 55 – 59 C-
4 50 – 54 D+
3 45 – 49 D
2 40 – 44 D-
1 0 – 39 E

 

PTS AGR-443 GRADE
12 88 – 100 A
11 83 – 87 A-
10 78 – 82 B+
9 73 – 77 B
8 68 – 72 B-
7 63 – 67 C+
6 58 – 62 C
5 53 – 57 C-
4 48 – 52 D+
3 43 – 47 D
2 38 – 42 D-
1 0 – 37 E

During the marking of KCSE examinations, KNEC does not give candidates a percentage mark to get a particular grade.

Instead, they publish KCSE grades and points to indicate the general performance of students.

The examinations body sets grades by combining expert judgment and statistics to come on an agreeable grade boundary.

Exam papers are not the same. They vary in difficulty. As such, the experts set grade boundaries to reflect the current performance of all students. The purpose is to ensure candidates do not get lower grades just because they sat for more difficult papers than previous years’. After agreeing on grade boundaries, KNEC applies them to students’ marks to give them a grade.

KCSE examiners are teachers experienced in respective subjects. The examinations body selects them carefully and trains them before they can mark the exams. It is essential that they use the same standards when marking the exams so that KNEC can award students the right grades.

Before schools can receive the results, senior examiners conduct final checks on all the marking. The purpose is to ensure no errors and that the standards were met during the marking of the exams.

The Kenya National Examinations Council does not use percentages in the grading system. They replace them with letter grades to create a mean grade. Kenyan universities do not use percentages from KCSE results when enrolling students too. Instead, they use the mean grade to determine a student’s rank in the concluded exams. This strategy means that the KCSE grading system gives a better measure of a student’s performance than the traditional marking system.

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