Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (Common Entrance) 2014 – Town Hall Meeting Recap, Partial Zoning & Ranking the Nation’s Schools

               The Ministry of Education has issued its annual Government Secondary Schools in Barbados guide. To complement the booklet, there are a number of town hall meetings currently being conducted all over the island. For information on times, dates and locations of these meetings click here. For those who may be unable to attend these meetings, here is some vital data to consider. This information is based on one of the town hall meetings, and supplemented with information from the Ministry of Education’s 2014 Guide and my own research.

Date & Time

The Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE) takes place on May 6, 2014 at 9:00 am at Public Secondary Schools all over the island. It is estimated that the exam should finish around 12:45 pm.


Students taking the exam must be eleven (11) by August 31, 2014. Barbadian students born overseas need to produce a certificate indicating their Barbadian descent so that they may do the exam. Non-nationals are required to submit the Immigration status certificates of the parent and child to the Ministry of Education through the school the child attends. They should have a student visa (cost BD$300). Please note that non-nationals are required to pay tuition of Bd$340 a term to their school unless parents are employed by an international organisation such as embassies and the University of the West Indies.


                              A request may be made for ten-year olds (early sitters) to sit the exam. This request is to be made by the parent, not the school. The school should only act in an advisory capacity. The student must have knowledge of the entire syllabus and must have scored at least 85% in Mathematics and English for 6 terms, i.e. both Class 2 and Class 3 academic years. If the potential candidate has earned slightly below 85% on occasion, an exception is considered. A senior education officer will go to the child’s school to check on that child’s report books to decide if the criteria have been met. Please note that parents must be sure that the child is adequately prepared since the BSSEE may only be done once. There is no opportunity for the child to sit the examination a second time.

                              On the opposite side of the spectrum, a request to defer may also be made. To defer, the child must be 11 years old. Only one deferral is allowed and no child should be more than twelve in that year. Deferral is based on the opinion of the Principal that the child would benefit from an extra year of elementary school study. The criteria for deferral include the student’s consistent scoring of 20% or less in English and Mathematics over 6 consecutive months preceding the BSSEE, or that the student has missed large portions of the curriculum due to illness, trauma or learning difficulties.


                              Mentally challenged students are exempt from the examination. All requests for exemption should be submitted through the Principal of the child’s school and be accompanied by a full psychological evaluation or medical report. The reports should have been completed within 6 months of said request. The student should be unable to read at the level of a Class 1 pupil, should be unable to recognise numbers and perform basic mathematical functions, or the child must have a mental age that is less than 8 years old. The Ministry of Education makes the final decision on if the student has met these criteria.

                              Academic options for such students include Annexes available at both Ellerton and Charles F. Broomes Primary Schools, and the Ann Hill School.

Special Needs

                              Students who need an enlarged print on the paper or extra time due to medical conditions should submit a request at the same time they submit their choice of school forms. A maximum of 15 minutes extra will be given to dyslexic students.


                              If a child is ill and cannot attend the examination, arrangements will be made for the child to sit an alternative exam. If the child becomes ill after the first 30 minutes of the examination, the child will be marked as present and the completed exam paper will be evaluated to determine a grade.

 BSSEE Choice of Schools Form

Choice of School Forms

                              As can be seen in the form above, when selecting schools, parents have two open options from anywhere in the island and up to seven choices from their zone. These zones are as follows:

Zone 1 – Parishes of St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. James and parts of St. Thomas (west of Highway of 2A) and parts of St. Michael (please see 2014 Guide for more details)

·        Alexandra

·        Alma Parris

·        Coleridge & Parry

·        Darryl Jordan Secondary (formerly St. Lucy Secondary)

·        Ellerslie

·        Frederick Smith Secondary (formerly St. James Secondary)

·        Queen’s College

·        Springer Memorial (girls only)

·        St. Leonard’s Boys (boys only)

Zone2 – Parishes of St. Andrew, St. Joseph, St. George, St. Thomas (east of Highway 2A) and parts of St. Michael (please see 2014 Guide for more details)

·        Alleyne

·        Combermere

·        Grantley Adams

·        Harrison College

·        Parkinson Memorial

·        Springer Memorial (girls only)

·        St. George Secondary

·        St. Leonard’s Boys’ (boys only)

·        The Lester Vaughan School

Zone 3 – The parishes of St. John, St. Philip and Christ Church

·        Christ Church Foundation

·        Deighton Griffith

·        Graydon Sealy Secondary (formerly Garrison)

·        The Lodge School

·        Princess Margaret

·        Springer Memorial (girls only)

·        St. Leonard’s Boys’ (boys only)

·        The St. Michael School

                              The zone is based on one’s mailing address and it is illegal to change the address to get into a different zone. Allocations are done by computer so be sure that the schools that are truly desired for your child are your first choices. The computer is programmed to select based on the order of the choices, the score of the examination, and the criterion that 30% of a school’s allocation must be from its zone. Once a school’s quota has been filled, the computer moves on to the next option, so choose carefully. Also, do not choose Bursary unless you can pay private school tuition. The bursary amount is a mere $125 a term.

                              There is an attempt by the Ministry of Education to eradicate the notion that there is any difference among the schools. Furthermore, it is purported that it should not matter where a child goes to school since any school is one where one’s child will be taught. I understand their well-intentioned efforts, however, in my opinion, that concept is quashed by the existence of cut-off marks. A disparity in cut-off marks suggests a hierarchical structure which puts students of similar academic abilities together. Therefore, if one’s child consistently scores 95% in English and Mathematics, should that child go to a school with a cut-off mark of 50% because that is the school closest to him/her?

                              The answer to that question is left to the parents. Based on information gathered about the general trend of cut-off marks for schools, this seems to be the ranking of the nation’s top 10:

·        Harrison College (Zone 2)

·        Queen’s College (Zone 1)

·        St. Michael’s (Zone 3)

·        Combermere (Zone 2)

·        Christ Church Foundation (Zone 3)

·        The Lodge School (Zone 3)

·        Alexandra (Zone 1)

·        Coleridge & Parry (Zone 1)

·        Alleyne (Zone 2)

·        Ellerslie (Zone 1)

I hope this information has been helpful to you and I wish your child an anxiety-free, successful examination.


Posted on January 18, 2014, in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Ihaditup Tohair

    I am interested in a particular school, but apparently the exam was easy so what would the estimated cut off marks be?

    • Dear Ihaditup Tohair,

      Unfortunately, even if I knew the school to which you referred, I would be unable to predict the cutoff marks since they change from year to year. Traditionally, however, the easier the examination, the higher the cutoff marks tend to be.

      I know this can be a time of much anxiety for children and parents but all I can offer you is this tidbit of advice, which is to be patient since the answers that you seek should become public very soon.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on

  2. Hi, do you have an idea of the ranking of the next 10 schools?

  3. I am unfortunately wanting to know the percentage you have to get to get to perticular school. Can you help me out?

  4. all i could say is that im thankful that i passed for a school

  5. simone clarke

    Hi just want to know, if the school fees are different for each school for non nationals

    • Hello, Simone, I apologise for the delay in answering. As far as I know the fees for non-nationals for public secondary schools is standard. Private schools’ fees vary. Hope this helps.

  6. Hi do yu have the dates for the town hall meetings and the cut off marks for 2015

    • Hello Shan. I just published some dates for the town hall meetings. As for the cutoff marks, they are normally determined by how the children perform on the exam so they will not be available until next year.

  7. can you publish the cut off marks for the schools please


    How long is the math paper please

  9. Find useful resources to assist with common entrance at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: