Only half qualify for A/L
Much improvement in maths, English standards
By Vidushi Seneviratne
Less than half the candidates who sat the 2004 GCE O/L exam have qualified for the A/Ls, with 342,068 candidates sitting the exam and 134,906 qualifying, making the pass rate 39.4%.

Examinations Commissioner General W.A. Mahinda Wijayasiri said there has been an improvement in the performance of mathematics and English, compared to last year. "The pass rate for mathematics last year was 42.1%, but this year it has risen to 45.4%. We see an improvement in English as well, with last year's pass rate being 34.1%, and this year's being 47.1%," he said.

Of the total number of students sitting the exam, almost 21.4% passed eight subjects, while 35% passed six or more, including language and mathematics. The basic A/L qualification is a Credit pass in the subject chosen. While the eight basic subjects for the O/L exam are language, mathematics, science, social studies, religion, English, asesthetic studies and technical subjects, students can also sit two additional subjects.

The three students with the best results in the island were from the Colombo district. They were from Gothami Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Nalanda Vidyalaya and Royal College. The rest of the top ten students were from St. Anthony's Balika Vidyalaya and Girls' High School, Kandy, Govt. Science Vidyalaya, Matale, Sri Sumangala Boys’ Vidyalaya, Devi Balika M.V., Royal College, Dharmaraja Vidyalaya, Kandy, Rahula Vidyalaya, Matara and Mahinda Vidyalaya, Galle.

The student with the best results said an early start in the studying process was the key to her success. "When studying in Grade 10, I made a timetable and tried my best to follow it. I kept doing past papers relevant to whatever I had studied," said Thanuja Wickramaarachchi of Gothami Balika MV.

“Develop a liking for education and don't consider it a burden. Get involved in whatever you are talented in, simultaneously with studies," was her message to future O/L candidates. "I studied systematically from Grade 10 onwards and kept doing past papers from other schools. I used to study about five hours a day and tried my best to do my daily work," said Ravin Jayatilaka of Nalanda College, who was ranked second. "Apart from the basic subjects, I sat geography and health science as my additional subjects and I did get help in maths, science, English and Sinhala. I plan to do bio science at the A/L," he said.

"I usually tried to keep my mind light and so used to take breaks and play computer games or do something entertaining. I normally studied in the morning for about two or three hours," said Charith Mendis of Royal College who was ranked third. "While in Grade 10, I studied the Grade 11 syllabuses, and by the time I was in Grade 11, I had time to do past papers," he said.

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