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UTME Performance: Analysing concerns and proposing pathways to academic excellence

As an educator, there are several concerns raised by the statistics regarding the performance of candidates in the 2024 UTME. Firstly, the high percentage of candidates scoring below 200 indicates potential gaps in their preparedness for higher education.
School Teacher at The Anchor College, Mushin
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“Giving a breakdown of the results of the 1,842,464 candidates released, the Board’s Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, noted that “8,401 candidates scored 300 and above; 77,070 scored 250 and above; 439,974 scored 200 and above; and 1,402,490 scored below 200.”

As an educator, there are several concerns raised by the statistics regarding the performance of candidates in the 2024 UTME. Firstly, the high percentage of candidates scoring below 200 indicates potential gaps in their preparedness for higher education. This could stem from various factors, such as inadequate access to quality education, a lack of effective study resources,overuse of social media, or systemic issues within the educational system.

Exams are a pivotal aspect of academic assessment, serving as a measure of students’ understanding and mastery of course material. However, the phenomenon of exam failure is multifaceted and influenced by a myriad of factors that extend beyond mere academic preparation. One of the primary reasons for exam failure is a lack of adequate preparation. Students who fail to allocate sufficient time for study or employ ineffective study techniques are at risk of underperforming on exams. This underscores the importance of instilling strong study habits and time management skills among students from an early age.

Furthermore, a fundamental misunderstanding of course concepts can contribute to exam failure. If students do not fully grasp the material covered in class, they may struggle to apply their knowledge effectively during exams. Thus, it is imperative for educators to ensure that concepts are presented in a clear and comprehensible manner, with ample opportunities for student engagement and clarification.

Test anxiety is another significant factor that can hinder exam performance. The pressure to perform well, coupled with fear of failure, can trigger anxiety responses that impair cognitive functioning and memory recall. Educators and support staff must be cognizant of the prevalence of test anxiety and implement strategies to help students manage stress and build resilience.

Poor time management skills also play a pivotal role in exam failure. Students who struggle to allocate their time effectively may find themselves rushing through exam questions or failing to complete the assessment within the allotted timeframe. Teaching students how to prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and manage their time efficiently can mitigate this issue.

Additionally, external factors such as health issues, lack of motivation, and personal distractions can exacerbate exam failure. It is essential for educators and support staff to recognise and address these underlying issues, providing students with the necessary resources and support to overcome obstacles to academic success. The implication of social media on student performance is a topic of considerable debate and research. While social media offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced communication, access to information, and opportunities for collaboration, it also presents challenges that can impact academic achievement.

One implication of social media on student performance is distraction. The constant notifications, updates, and allure of social media platforms can divert students’ attention away from their studies, leading to procrastination and decreased productivity. Spending excessive amounts of time on social media can interfere with students’ ability to concentrate, retain information, and complete assignments on time.

Moreover, social media can contribute to a phenomenon known as “fear of missing out” (FOMO). Students may feel compelled to constantly check their social media feeds to stay connected with their peers, leading to feelings of anxiety and distraction. This can detract from their ability to fully engage in their academic responsibilities and may ultimately impact their performance in school.

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Another implication of social media on student performance is its potential to facilitate academic dishonesty. Platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and online forums can be used for sharing exam answers, plagiarising content, or engaging in other forms of cheating. The ease of access to information and the ability to connect with peers in real-time can blur the lines between collaboration and academic integrity, posing challenges for educators in maintaining academic standards.

On the other hand, social media can also have positive implications for student performance. When used responsibly, social media can serve as a valuable tool for learning and collaboration. Students can connect with peers, participate in online study groups, access educational resources, and engage in discussions on academic topics. Social media platforms can also provide opportunities for students to showcase their work, receive feedback, and network with professionals in their field of interest.

One solution to address this concern is to focus on improving the quality of education at all levels, from primary to secondary school, and teach digital detox. This can be achieved through targeted interventions such as curriculum reform, teacher training programs, and investment in educational infrastructure. Additionally, providing access to supplementary resources like tutoring, educational technology, and mentorship programs can help students strengthen their academic skills and confidence.

Tellingly, it’s essential to identify and address any specific challenges or barriers that students may face in preparing for the UTME. This could involve implementing support programs for disadvantaged or marginalised groups, offering remedial classes, or providing additional assistance to students with learning disabilities or special needs.

In terms of the admission process, the introduction of a new format for accepting admissions aims to enhance transparency and integrity. However, it’s crucial to ensure that these processes are accessible and user-friendly for all candidates, regardless of their background or technological literacy. This may involve providing clear guidelines, offering support services, and ensuring that candidates have access to the necessary resources to complete the process successfully.

Overall, addressing the concerns raised by the UTME results requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving educators, policymakers, parents, and other stakeholders.

We can start by working together to improve educational standards, support students, and enhance the integrity of the admissions process, we can help ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to succeed in their academic pursuits.

Read: From fitness to fortune: The roles of physical education in students academic success

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