How JAMB derives its cut off marks

Many Nigerians have erroneously blamed the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) over what they considered a consistent decline in the pegging of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) cut-off marks for years now.

Fabian Benjamin, the head of public affairs and protocol of JAMB explained that the board did not and had never determined any uniform national UTME scores otherwise known as the cut-off marks by the general public for any tertiary institution.

“The lucid process of admission which the former president of the Academic Staff Union of University, Nasir Fagge, expounded and which was published in Premium Times is the exact process being followed in the conduct of admission exercise to tertiary institutions.

“This process has even been improved upon with the elimination of human interference through its full automation with the introduction of the Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS).

“For the purpose of emphasis, the board conducts the UTME and hands over the results to institutions for the conduct of admissions,” he said.

Nasir Fagge had earlier reiterated the need for a review of the law establishing the JAMB. According to him, the idea of allowing the examination body to decide general cut-off marks for the country’s tertiary institution must be jettisoned, if the system is to achieve its mandate.

In line with this call, JAMB cut-off marks are determined by the heads of tertiary institutions across the country. These ivory tower leaders would normally hold a policy meeting that is chaired by the minister of education every year to decide the minimum cut-off marks for the academic year.

At this meeting, the admission guidelines which include recommendations from individual institutions and their preferred minimum admission scores are presented and deliberated upon and this invariably means that it is not JAMB that decides the cut-off marks.

However, before the meeting, for instance, more than 50 percent of the universities would have submitted in writing their minimum scores of 200 and above to the board for presentation to the meeting for the purpose of deliberation.

The same applied to the other tiers of tertiary institutions. The implication of this process is that no institution will be able to admit any candidate with any score below what they had submitted as their minimum score.

Read also: Reps to probe JAMB over multiple administrative charges imposed on UTME candidates

According to Kayode Soremekun, a former vice-chancellor at the Federal University of Ado-Ekiti, “there is a general dimension to the issue of pegging admission cut-off marks, and there is also the particularistic dimension.

“Cut off point also relates to the type of institution; there are also issues which relate to demand and supply as regards the status of the various institutions.

“The demand and supply factor is also relevant in terms of courses. Medicine for instance attracts a very high cut-off point in most universities.”

There are basically three categories considered in pegging the cut-off marks which are University, Polytechnics, and College of Education (COE). There are varying cut-off points for these institutions with the universities attracting the highest cut-off points in the above category.

The case of the COE is worth noting. The cut-off is usually low because the customers are very few. However, what has been said above applies mainly to public universities.

There is also variety regarding the private universities. The hot cakes among the private universities category are Covenant University, Afe Babalola University, Babcock, to some extent Bowen, and Igbinedion which are usually fully subscribed.

So they can afford to have relatively high cut-off points. The others are usually struggling in terms of attracting students.

The parameters for admission into tertiary institutions are Post-UTME/Post-A/L qualifications screening test score; O/L grade score; and in some cases, physical test (such as applicable in the Nigerian Defence Academy/Police Academy).

Hence, it is the score from all these segments that are added together to have an eventual ranking table or “cut-off” score.

The role of the JAMB in all these is to ensure that the goalpost is not shifted in the middle of the game.

Furthermore, in most cases, the UTME score is not the sole determinant of the placement of candidates into tertiary institutions.

Each institution is meant to determine and submit to JAMB its minimum UTME score after analysing the UTME scores of its applicants against its available quota.

As such, the undue attention to the so-called national minimum UTME score is a major conception of many ill-informed candidates who assumed that they have finally attained the benchmark having achieved the so-called minimum national score or “cut-off point’ for admission.

The decisions at the annual policy meeting on admission do not in any way imply reducing the minimum prescriptions emanating from the institutions except in a few situations where these institutions had submitted minimum UTME scores that fell below what the policy meeting considered as the acceptable minimum score.

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