The work of candidates for the 2023 National Certificate of Education (NCE) exams has been the subject of a report by the examiners. The latter highlight the strengths and weaknesses of those concerned. A way to draw inspiration from them to make better progress this year in order to improve results.


In October 2023, 14,324 candidates sat the third edition of the National Certificate of Education (NCE). This included Grade 9 and Grade 9+ Extended Programme students. The Mathematics assessment measures the skills acquired by Grade 7 and 9 candidates. It was aimed at students of all abilities, with a variety of question types that allowed each to showcase the knowledge acquired over nine years of continuous schooling. The paper was marked according to difficulty. The assessment objectives were: Knowledge (55%); Application (35%) and Reasoning (10%).

According to the comments, the difficulty level of the paper was comparable to that of 2021-2022. It should be noted that the types of questions asked, particularly the first few, were found to be more accessible for the majority of candidates. More illustrations and visuals were included in the paper and the reading load was reduced. Students with reading difficulties were able to demonstrate their mathematics knowledge and skills with more confidence. The paper also contained questions to encourage mathematical thinking and reasoning.

It was also noted that students still struggled to solve complex questions requiring logical thinking, meaning and reasoning. However, there were a few well-presented papers where candidates appeared to have had sufficient time, but also many others that were incomplete with blank answer spaces. In multiple cases, candidates were unable to obtain partial marks due to the omission of essential work. Many candidates did not present their work in a clear and neat manner, resulting in loss of marks. Furthermore, it was noted that several candidates used a pencil to answer questions and then erased the work.

The NCE 2023 pass rate for the Republic of Mauritius was 74.6%. This is an increase from the 2021/22 period when the rate stood at 65.4%. Here are some of the points contained in the examiners' report concerning Mathematics, English, French, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Art & Design.


According to examiners, to succeed in mathematics, candidates must:

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the entire program.
  • Be competent in basic calculations (the four basic operations).
  • Be familiar with numbers, decimals and fractions, as well as their conversion from one form to another.
  • Remember and apply the necessary formulas.
  • Use acquired skills to solve regular and complex problems.


The majority of candidates demonstrated a solid acquisition of essential skills in basic grammar, reading and writing. In literature, most of them were able to identify simple literary devices and their functions.

However, some difficulties were noted in grammar. The following points posed problems:

  • Difference between the past perfect and the past simple: candidates often confused these two tenses, for example: “Yesterday my cousins ​​came to visit me”.
  • Prepositions indicating time: Errors were common in sentences such as “The film will start in half an hour.”
  • Negations: There were difficulties in formulating negative sentences, particularly: “The match will not be organised”.
  • Transformation into direct speech: Candidates had difficulty transforming sentences into direct speech, such as: “The teacher asked us if we were hungry.”
  • Plurals in structures beginning with 'one': Errors have been noted in constructions such as: “One of the most famous painters…”.

In reading comprehension, most candidates have mastered literal knowledge. However, some copied phrases indiscriminately, while the chronology of events and personal responses posed problems. Additionally, they often lacked understanding of contextual vocabulary.

In conclusion, although many candidates demonstrated strong basic skills, examiners emphasize that additional effort is needed in some specific areas to achieve a full and nuanced command of language and literature.

Extended Programme

The percentage of candidates achieving a Grade 6 or better in the Extended Programme increased from 35.9% in 2022 to 66.8% in 2023. An increase in the use of illustrations and visuals, the use of simple language and the types of questions asked made the assessment of ICT more accessible. Section A of the questionnaire was covered fairly well, but items in Section B were often ignored and left unanswered.


It is important that candidates are able to link together knowledge from different subjects. Understandings in other areas are often necessary to answer some questions. Candidates are advised to use appropriate technical terms when answering questions.

It is also indicated that students still struggle to solve complex questions requiring logical thinking, meaning and reasoning.

A report on the latest NCE 2023 exams highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of students in different subjects.

Information and Communications Technology

In October 2023, the third edition of the National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) attracted the attention of 14,324 candidates. This includes Grade 9 and Grade 9+ students in the Extended Program. The assessment has been designed for students of all levels, with different types of questions allowing everyone to demonstrate the skills acquired after nine years of continuous schooling.

The difficulty level of the 2023 ICT questionnaire was comparable to that of the 2021-2022 years. It is worth noting that the first types of questions asked proved to be more accessible for the majority of candidates. The questionnaire included more illustrations and visuals, while the reading load was reduced. Thus, students with reading difficulties were able to demonstrate their ICT knowledge and skills with more confidence. Section B also included questions requiring students to demonstrate their reasoning and analytical skills.

The percentage of candidates achieving Grade 6 or better increased from 89.7% in 2022 to 96.3% in 2023. The pass rate for girls was 97.9%, while that for boys was 94.6%.

The analysis of the items shows that objective questions, such as multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions in Section A, requiring background knowledge, were well received. These items allowed candidates to score points and were more accessible to the majority of them.

In contrast, candidates experienced difficulty with Section B items, which required deeper understanding and reasoning. The examiners noted that there were well-presented papers and students appeared to have had sufficient time to complete the questionnaire. However, many papers were found incomplete with answer spaces left blank, particularly in section B. The report aims to provide guidance for improving candidates' future performance and to support teachers in adapting their methods educational.

Art & Design

In terms of the Art & Design subject, the preparatory work was closely analyzed. Research into known artists, artworks, personal photographs, artistic cultures and local cultures guided the candidates' individual development. They thought carefully about exploring a range of concepts, media, methods and procedures during the preliminary work. Most of them chose to experiment with painting and associated media. They were able to demonstrate that they were able to effectively develop concepts from preliminary observational studies to their final proposals or results. The less competent found it difficult to generate innovative ideas and draw inspiration from artists to support their final work.


In order to encourage good practice, the examiners make certain recommendations. These can help both educators and candidates to produce a higher standard of work for assessment. The suggestions are as follows:

  • Proper guidance in the 3D working process should be given to candidates by educators.
  • The final work should be well presented and not appear as essays. It should have a finished look.
  • Photos of the tests can be uploaded in the preparatory work.
  • The preparatory and final work must be consistent. There must be good continuity in the development process.
  • Too much paper folding in preparatory work is not encouraged, as it does not necessarily bring extra points. This practice is incorrect and should not be supported in school.
  • Candidates must respect the number of preparatory sheets and the size of the paper to submit.


The French assessment was based on the Mauritius Institute of Education Teaching and Learning Syllabus (MIE, Teaching and Learning Syllabus Grades 7, 8 and 9, 2017) and the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate French Assessment Programme (MES, Annual Programme 2023). According to available statistics, 86.8% of candidates, compared to 90% in 2022, passed the French test. The questionnaire measured the candidates' acquired skills in: (a) reading comprehension (30%); (b) written expression (25%); (c) grammar (35%) and (d) literature (10%).

A few comments

Examiners note that students can read, understand and appreciate functional and narrative texts with ease. However, they have difficulty articulating a clear and precise response when asked to formulate an answer in the sense of the question asked. They have experienced difficulties with the spelling of common words and have problems placing accents correctly. They have a command of the rules of negation and pronominalisation of the object complement which needs to be consolidated, as well as conjugation, verb tense and endings.

Students need to consolidate their knowledge of the rules of agreement (adjective, attribute, past participle with the auxiliaries avoir and être). They need to understand the requirements of descriptive and argumentative writing and to strengthen their mastery of narrative time. It is also indicated that candidates must read regularly to enrich their vocabulary and develop their creativity. They must learn to present an essay/analysis in a structured and coherent manner. In addition, as part of literary study, they are required to justify their answer based on the text.

They have difficulty articulating a clear and precise response when they have to formulate a response in the sense of the question asked”

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