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100% Failure Rate On University of Liberia's Admission Exam 308

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the little-johnny-still-can't-read dept.
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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100% Failure Rate On University of Liberia's Admission Exam

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  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:07AM (#44683411) Homepage

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pspahn (1175617)

      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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Correction... English is difficult

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

      • Re:English is Hard (Score:5, Informative)

        by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:02AM (#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.

      • 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?

      • by freeze128 (544774)
        Linguo... Dead?

        "Linguo is dead."
    • "Me fail english? That's unpossible."
  • by sethstorm (512897) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:13AM (#44683439) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:19AM (#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.

        • by rioki (1328185) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:12AM (#44683821) Homepage

          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...

          • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:01AM (#44684003) Homepage

            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.

          • by jittles (1613415) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @09:09AM (#44684791)

            In the states you can sort of get through high school without too much effort.

            In my case, almost 0 effort. I never did homework. I rarely worked on anything school related outside of school, and only if it was on a topic that interested me. I started skipping school in 5th grade (I have older brothers who I can thank for teaching me those tricks), and missed hundreds of days of high school. And yet I graduated and went on to university. The problem is definitely the slow kids. I had no interest in honors or AP classes that gave you homework throughout the summer. I didn't want more homework, I wanted to learn more during the school year. In university, I was much more motivated.

            It was more challenging, most professors refused to coddle the slow or lazy students. I went from barely graduating high school to being in the top 1% of the #1 Community College in the US (at that time), to a regular university, where I graduated with honors. All because I felt like there was a purpose in showing up every day. Its amazing what a little trial and tribulation can do to make you rise up and succeed.

          • by T.E.D. (34228)

            The US school system is not very good at fostering high achieving students, they focus on getting most people to average education and

            This is actually one of the unsung successes of the USA system. Almost no other country in the world even attempts to educate everybody like we do. Others tend to wash out (aka: "leave behind") low achieving kids, shunting them off to lower "tracks" where they are groomed to be menial laborers. It makes us look bad on international tests, as our below-average kids get their scores thrown against everyone else's college-track kids.

            You are also quite right that it means we aren't serving our high-achievers a

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          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 dis

          • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:07AM (#44684027) Homepage

            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.

            • according to a objective, measurable standard

              They don't seem to be doing a very good job of measuring understanding.

          • 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".

          • 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.

            Simple: secondary education is all directed to passing those exams. If the exams are not reliable, then the education towards those exams simply won't be adequate. It follows logically that someone who sat an exit exam that is insufficient for university entry is unprepared for university, so the sytem is fundamentally broken. The only effective solution is for the universities to impose standards on the school system. The hardest subject in Scottish highers (fifth year secondary, the first optional year in

        • by Eivind (15695)

          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.

          • The other is to make it possible to (roughly!) sort students based on skills for higher education.

            I suppose that having a good memory is a skill, but it's sort of sad how that's the only thing schools seem to test for in most cases.

        • we don't trust the exit exam of your school or we think it tests for the wrong things.

          They most likely shouldn't trust any exit exams, and it probably does test for the wrong things. What does it fail to test for? Understand of the material. I find it comical that all these universities and schools believe they can truly test your expertise without ever asking questions that cannot be solved by mere rote memorization.

        • 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.

          So the University should not accept mature students, foreign students, student who are freshly nationalized, nor those who did not go through the secondary school system for one reason or the other?

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:28AM (#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.

      • by Jesrad (716567) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:49AM (#44683741) Journal

        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.

        • by DrEasy (559739) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:14AM (#44684047) Journal
          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.
          • by Jesrad (716567) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @07:57AM (#44684409) Journal

            For all the overqualification we get "on paper", we french still have the poorest understanding of economics in the entire OECD, and it shows in the polls and election results. Where else in the western world can there be overtly authoritarian communist candidates to the presidency or representative elections raking in a two-digit percentage of voters ? Defiance towards politicians is on a all-time high in France, yet they are the ones we turn to in order to fix all our problems.

            You're right that we are more vindicative and aren't prone to political apathy, but it's clearly not helping when it's radical politicians who stand to be the only beneficiaries. If I were to summarize the mainstream french political sentiment, it would seem completely schizophrenic:
            - we want more money individually, but do not want prices to inflate nor income discrepancies to increase,
            - we want to determine our lives and be free of bureaucracy yet clamor for more government regulation with every bad news,
            - we want more public expenses but do not want to deprive the private sector of the funds it needs to create jobs and wealth.

            I'm pretty sure some of it will sound familiar to Americans.

            • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @11:42AM (#44686659) Journal

              For all the overqualification we get "on paper", we french still have the poorest understanding of economics in the entire OECD, and it shows in the polls and election results.

              Except the US, who expects the free market to solve all problems.

              Where else in the western world can there be overtly authoritarian communist candidates to the presidency or representative elections raking in a two-digit percentage of voters ?

              Somewhere where they're informed enough to realize authoritarian capitalism isn't any better.

              Defiance towards politicians is on a all-time high in France, yet they are the ones we turn to in order to fix all our problems.

              And who else is going to do it? If we're going to work together to solve our problems, government is how we do that. The only other alternative is to surrender to the rapacious greed of the rich.

              - we want more money individually, but do not want prices to inflate nor income discrepancies to increase,

              Nothing wrong with that. When there is such vast income disparity like that in the US, bringing everyone closer to the average would increase almost everyone's economic status. For those whos status would decrease, boo fucking hoo.

              - we want to determine our lives and be free of bureaucracy yet clamor for more government regulation with every bad news,

              What we really want is regulation that works and is enforced. That corporate owned cronies in government have passed regulations designed to not work, and deliberately fail to enforce the ones that do doesn't mean regulation is bad.

              - we want more public expenses but do not want to deprive the private sector of the funds it needs to create jobs and wealth.

              Providing services to those who need them will increase the funds available to the private sector. When you give aid to the poor, they spend it. That money goes directly to the bottom line of businesses, allowing them to create jobs. Give aid to the rich like the US does, and they just sit on it.

              In other words, France only has the "poorest understanding of economics in the entire OECD" if you're a free market fundamentalist. That's like a creationist saying that France has the "poorest understanding of evolution".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        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

      • by longk (2637033) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:24AM (#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.

      • by wbr1 (2538558) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:37AM (#44684123)

        ....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.

        Until it is your kid trying to get into university. Maybe not yours per se, but millions of other parents whose attitude is, "I pay taxes for this, let my spoiled brat in."

    • by meerling (1487879) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:36AM (#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.
    • by Zedrick (764028) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:41AM (#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,
      • by tlambert (566799)

        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.

        • Odd. In my country, the cost of university tutoring is approximately 500 bucks a semester (no, I didn't forget a few 0s there). And if you cannot afford THAT, yes, there are grants and loans and whatnot.

          As you may imagine, the universities are packed to the brim during the first semesters. Which is ok, the entry level tests are SO insanely difficult, that after 2-3 semesters only about 10% of the students remain. About 1% graduates.

          Yes, that's a rather low rate of graduations, but in absolute numbers, it's

    • Most of these tests are just garbage anyway. All one needs to do to pass them is memorize the material; you don't need to understand any of it. I find it sad that many people fail at even memorization.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:34AM (#44683507)

    "multiple-guess"

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

    • 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.

    • by Corbets (169101)

      "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!

      • by jrumney (197329)

        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.

        • 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.

          The theory test that I needed to get my driving license many years ago was multiple choice. A question, three or four possible answers with unknown number of correct answers. Don't tick a right answer, one mistake counted against you. Tick a wrong answer, one mistake counted against you. If you _guessed_ there is one correct answer and then _guessed_ wrongly which one is correct, that's two mistakes; one for not ticking a correct answer, one for ticking a wrong one. Leave the question unanswered, just one m

          • There's two skills, knowing and knowing whether you know.

            The old paper GMAT used to work like that. I think the penalty was a quarter point for a wrong answer (out of 5 alternatives), making the raw monkey mark zero.

      • In France it's "choix multiple"...
    • 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!

    • Most of my geography test were multiple guess tests. But thinking about it, yes, I didn't pass most of them either...

  • by Bovius (1243040) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:42AM (#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.

    • by real-modo (1460457) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:04AM (#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.

    • 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

    • 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

    • by jrumney (197329)

      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?

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:46AM (#44683547) Homepage
    '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]
  • Failed State (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hweimer (709734) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:00AM (#44683587) Homepage

    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].

    • 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.

      • by hweimer (709734)

        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.

  • by GeekWithAKnife (2717871) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:06AM (#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.
  • FP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:06AM (#44683615) Homepage Journal

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

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      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 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @07:01AM (#44684197)

        No, you're reading another white man accusing the black Africans of blaming white men, even though nobody has blamed white men, so would the pair of you stop being so bloody racist, please? The university is blaming the Liberian school system and the government, who presumably haven't been quick enough to rebuild bombed-out schools, train replacements for murdered teachers etc.

        The university isn't willing to let a war that ended a decade ago be an excuse -- this is exactly the opposite of what you accuse them of, you pair of small-minded, patronising bigots.

      • Re:FP (Score:4, Informative)

        by hey! (33014) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:50PM (#44688413) Homepage Journal

        Well, if you look at the recent history of Liberia, particularly the reign of the now-convicted war criminal Charles Taylor, it's not the fault of white people *per se*, but meddling by and collusion with corrupt, unprincipled outsiders. These include a veritable rainbow coalition of crooks and thugs, with brown people like the Sierra Leonean RUF and Indian-American Christian evangelist R.A. Paul. White people have their share of venal Taylor cronies too, such as the Russian mobster Viktor Bout and American televangelist and politician Pat Robertson.

        The contribution of outside governments to the mess in LIberia has been tolerating people who operate outside the bounds of the law. Pat Robertson is part of the US contribution; he solicited funds from his 700 club viewers and diverted them to Liberian diamond mines he got from Taylor. The VA AG, a personal friend of Robertson from the evangelical wing of the Republican party, blocked prosecution on the basis that *some* of the fund solicited did make it to Rwanda.

        This doesn't make US politics the main culprit in the mess that is modern Liberia -- far from it. There are too may other contributors to make such a claim. But our *contribution* to the mess there isn't confined to pre-Civil War history. And our contribution to the bess is arguably a sign of our own political dysfunction and tolerance of what plain sense should tell us is corruption; Taylor ma have been an evangelical Christian, but he was no friend of the US where there was money to be made. After 9/11 he harbored two Al Qaeda operatives, not for ideological reasons but for a million dollars in cash. He bought "friends" in the US, who bought "friends" in American government, none of whom were friends to Americans.

    • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by sir-gold (949031) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @06:08AM (#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

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