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What is CXC CSEC Paper 3?

Updated: Apr 16

If you are a private candidate, then you will have to do Paper 3, which is the alternative to the SBA. In this blog, I’m going to help you understand a little more about the Paper 3.

Before we continue, let’s discuss who classifies as private candidates.

Who are Private candidates?

Private candidates are students who are not registered to write the CXC exams through a school/institution. There are several types of private candidates:

  • students who are writing CXC exams for the first time outside of school.

  • students who are repeating CXC subjects to get a better grade.

  • Students who are in school but are writing the CXC exams privately

(P.S. there is no age limit for the CXC CSEC exams)

What is the SBA?

The SBA (School-Based Assessment - formally Paper 031) is a set of tasks given to students to complete in school, according to rules set by CXC®. The teacher grades the SBA using CXC's guidelines, and CXC checks the grades to make sure they're fair. The SBA score is part of the student's exam grade, but the percentage it counts for changes depending on the subject. You can find out more about this in the subject's syllabus.

Click here to see the full listing of CSEC Subjects. Here you will find all the information about each subject.

Is the SBA compulsory?

Yes, the SBA is now a compulsory part of all CXC subject syllabuses. The marks from the SBA, whether Paper 031 (the normal SBA that students in school complete) or Paper 032, contribute to your overall Grade.

What exactly is Paper 3?

Paper 3, formally Paper 032, replaces the SBA for private candidates. This paper assesses the same skills that would be required in the regular SBA. For some subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, there might be a practical element to the Paper 3 for private candidates. For example, students might have to carry out/observe simple lab experiments. It is important for students to understand exactly what the Paper 3 for each subject entails. This can be found here: CSEC Archives | Caribbean Examinations Council

Are there past papers for Paper 3?

Yes! Just like the Papers 1 and 2, there are past papers for the Paper 032. It will be very useful to review the past papers to help you prepare for your exams.

If you are repeating a subject as a private candidate, can you reuse your school SBA mark?

Yes, if you are repeating a subject, you can use the SBA mark from your first sitting of the exam. This only applies to students who were previously registered in school. For example, if you were a student in Form 5 who wrote Biology in May 2023, you can use your school SBA mark to repeat the Biology exam in either January 2024 or May 2024.

Note: If you’re reusing your SBA, you will register as a resit not alternate candidate, which means you will not write the Paper 3 i.e. Paper 032.

How many times can you reuse your school SBA mark?

You can only reuse your school SBA mark ONE time.

Can you carry study notes to the Paper 3 Exam?

According to the CXC Guidelines For Candidates writing the Alternative Paper to SBA (Paper 03/2) in Law Units 1 and 2, will be permitted to take into the examination room prepared notes on the topic of the year (the topics may be found in the 2015 Law Syllabus at page 37). Candidates taking the Alternative Paper to SBA (Paper 03/2) in the CSEC single sciences are permitted to take into the examination room notebooks and/or any materials relevant to the practical examination. When responding to the appropriate question, candidates may refer to their prepared notes.

The information here was gathered from the following sources:

Please make sure to check out the official CXC website to ensure that you are up to date with any changes.

All the very best to you in your exams!

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