An overview of Rwanda’s new primary leaving examination grading system

Every academic year, pupils are expected to perform well before advancing to the next grade level. After successfully attending and completing six long years in primary school, pupils are eligible to sit for the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), or National Examination. The national exam, usually conducted in July, determines a pupil’s eligibility to transition to secondary school and informs which school the pupils can progress to. 

Prior to starting national exams, pupils are expected to fill in forms with their personal information and preferred choice of secondary school, depending on their interests. 

Effective 26th July 2022, the Ministry of Education and National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA) announced new guidelines for the new electronic system of awarding marks to candidates sitting for the national examinations.

In this new grading system, primary pupils are assessed according to the five mandatory examinable subjects: Mathematics, English, Social and Religious Studies, Kinyarwanda, Science and Elementary Technology (SET). The Ministerial order further clarifies the grades as follows:

MarksGrade ValueGrading level
70 to 100%6‘Excellent’ level with a letter grade A
65 to 69%5Very Good’ level with a letter grade B
60% to 64%4Good’ with the letter grade C
50% to 59%3‘Satisfactory’ with letter grade D
40 to 49%2‘Adequate with a letter grade E
20% to 39%1‘Fair’ with letter grade S
Zero to 19%0‘Fail’ with a letter grade F

The best achievement is when a pupil scores six in each of the five examinable subjects to raise a total aggregate of 30. This is obtained by multiplying the value of the highest grade (6) by the number (5) of examinable subjects. A pupil is considered to have passed if they score atleast one in each of the five examinable subjects to raise a total aggregate of 5. Any score less than this is considered a failure.

Pupils in the last academic year 2021-2022 were the first batch of pupils that used the new grading system.  Out of the 227,402 who sat for 2021-2022 primary leaving exams, 206,286 of them passed, which represents 90.69 per cent of the general passing rate. The remaining 10% will repeat. Readmore