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Makerere universitym for pre-entry exams

Dr Vincent Ssembatya, the director for Quality Assurance at Makerere

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Heads of several departments and colleges at Makerere University are proposing to adopt the pre-entry examination system to determine the competence levels of students pursuing courses at the university.

Dr Vincent Ssembatya, the Director for Quality Assurance at Makerere says that the university management has already received proposals from some schools, colleges, and departments which are still subject to discussion by the university council.

Dr Ssembatya notes that the pre-entry exams are mooted basing on the fact that the university is challenged by the selection of students as the available slots are fewer compared to applicants. 

Some of the departments that are aggressively pushing for the proposal include; the department of journalism and communication, college of health sciences, and school of engineering.

Dr William Tayeebwa, the Head of the Department of Journalism and Communication stresses that as a department they are interested in the pre-entry. 

Dr Tayeebwa notes that they receive many applications but are only able to admit only 10 percent. He notes that the existing system tends to be favour best performers in the Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB exams who at times lack several basic aspects.

He argues that the pre-exams could level the ground and give every applicant an opportunity and also ensure that all the admitted students have an interest in the programme they have applied for. 

Dr Ssembatya also adds that UNEB’s assessment system is not updated and cannot be used as a basis on who should be admitted in several programmes. He argues that the UNEB’s assessment doesn’t meet the specific competencies required by individual universities for specific programmes.

He further adds that although pre-entry exams are not common in public universities in Uganda, it is common practice internationally for universities to ensure that the admitted student is fit for the programme.  

The pre-entry examinations are no strange at Makerere given the fact that all students who have been admitted for the Bachelors of Law programme have been sitting for the examinations for over the last ten years.

The pre-entry exams cover competence areas including but not limited to reading and comprehension skills, language skills, numerical skills and logic, general knowledge and analytical writing skills.

However, it has been greatly criticized by a section of academicians and policymakers asking its essence given the fact that universities already have cut off points and other admission mechanisms to determine who should join a given programme according to their performance at lower levels of education.

Last year, the parliament committee on education asked the ministry of education to abolish pre-entry exams to law students in various universities, but the Ministry and National Council for Higher Education clarified that the Universities and other Tertiaries Act, give universities a right to determine their admission criteria.




  1. Did he pass through the same procedures….. Let’s be considerate n respect the credibility of uneb

  2. Denting the credibility of the country’s education system by questioning the validity of it’s UACE, UCE certificates with university pre-entry exams is amazingly short-sighted. And raises several questions:

    1.If it’s an issue of limited vacancies at the universities how will holding the pre-entry exam address that shortage ? The champions of the pre-entry exams seem to imply that best students are those that failed/barely passed UNEB’s Alevels and that only their championed pre-entry exams can rectify this anomaly and presumably these champions will do a better job than UNEB within a short span of 2 days of tests.

    2. What exactly will the pre-entry exams assess for that UNEB has failed to assess ;Aptitude, foundational knowledge ? If it’s foundational knowledge , who qualifies to sit these pre-entry exams, the A level graduates that have been presumed to lack this foundational knowledge after 16 years of education ?

    3.Will aptitude compensate for the lack and or limited foundational knowledge of some of the applicants that may pass the pre-entry exam yet failed or barely passed UNEB Alevel exams.

    4. What will stop international universities or organization to assume that all graduates of Uganda’s education system are not qualified given how questionable Uganda’s basic education ( primary & secondary ) is as implied by Makerere Universities demands of pre-entry exams ?

    Lastly one could easily assume that these pre-entry exams are :

    -A money-making scheme.

    -Aimed at sneaking into Makerere,mediocre students that currently are non-admissible.

    -Economically sabotage schools, primarily private schools like Namugongo, that send the largest number of students to Makerere and as such charge premium tuition.

  3. It will take us years to rectify the current destruction of Uganda’s education by or under-the-watch of the present leadership of ministry of education.

  4. According to me, this idealogy is null and has no positive impact on the student. Pre entry exams are just a wastage of resources cause when you see the kind of question they set, they are totally not favourable and totally different to what the student was taught in hi skol and besides doing or not doing it doesn’t create ajob for student but ruther creating hardships for him not to be admitted and same applies to employers, they set aptitude tests yet this is totally awrong methodology of selecting de best candidates.

  5. Emmanuel Tumukugize

    The Ideal is redesigning the post O’level education system:design programs that would specifically fit a student for University entry after getting a predetermined GPA! For instance if a student is interested in becoming a doctor: let him have 2 years of Anatomy and physiology and elementary microbiology! Not wasting time meandering in the Whole of Biology and physics, with some topics which will never help if he became a doctor!!! Pre-entry exams can be marred by unscrupulous malpractice and favoritism and students from upcountry may never make it to the elite universities in the Uganda especially with Corruption and nepotism denting all govt institutions and systems in Uganda. Though it has loopholes UNEB, still remains a Standard measure of competence and it should be given the necessary support to upgrade it rather that subvert it.. Universities , Curriculum Development Center,National council for Higher Education and the Ministry of Education together have a cardinal role to redesign our curricula and help UNEB send undisputable top cream to Universities.

  6. Ibura Diana Charles

    Well I don’t agree with the pre.entry exams system
    Because not all those who apply come from strong schools which expose them to the kind of qns set.
    So to me its kinda unfair for other students.

  7. It is a money making scheme, people what to use this method to admit in their relatives and friends
    Many of us didn’t pass through such method but we are doing better. It not matter of pre-entry exams that determines da nature and competency of some one.
    Let’s us ask our selves who of these people pushing da method passed through it. If no one, you mean you’re incompetent?
    Pliz give us a break and don’t become greedy for da little money you want to get from the scheme of pre-entry thanks.

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