Who was Cheating in KCSE Examinations

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The country is ripe with the talk on the paltry performance of students in this year’s KCSE examination. Key reason, curbing of cheating by the Education Cabinet Secretary and his counterpart at the Kenya National Examination Council. Amidst this conversations is the out-doing of the boys by the girls who managed only 4 spots in the top 20 ranking. Thus spurred the question – who was cheating, the boys or the girls?

To sufficiently answer the question, I gathered KCSE data on male and female performance between 2006 – 2010, and also included 2015 and 2016.  At first glance, the trend seems to be as anticipated. More boys were getting As than girls in the previous years – which seems always to be 2/3 of all As. I decided to build a heat map to show the distribution of grades on both genders.


From a first glance, between the years 20006 – 2015, the percentage of boys in the range between A and B minus is higher than girls. This could be attributed to more boys enrolling for exams but when juxtaposed to the 2016 results it shows the ratio is equal. Therefore, the significant higher number of boys in the aforementioned range can only be explain by one fact – cheating. Considering 2016 as the normalized results, then the boy child was indeed having “undue advantage”.

Of another interest is the consistent band between  C plain and D plain between 2006 and 2015. There’s no gender bias in this range, the same percentage between boys and girls (just birds of the same feather) :). In 2016, most of this band of brothers and sisters regressed further with most having a D minus. Even though there isn’t evidence of them participating in exam irregularities, the strict examination environment made their performance worse.

Given 2015 was considered the most leaked exam in Kenya and there was no significant upper shift in this group, then it could be concluded that exam irregularities only benefit above average students.

Special thanks to Bankelele for provoking these thoughts 🙂

You can download the data here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5hf9jy0awimurwg/KCSE_2016.csv?dl=0

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  1. Hello Chris,

    Nice stuff you are doing. Just curious of where you got the KCSE data at this resolution. I have been looking for such for some other fun stuff. What you have provided is already very helpful, but I would like to dig deeper for more numbers.

    • Hi Leacky,

      Thank you for the comment. I got the data from various websites and blogs. What exactly are you looking for?


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