What You Need To Know About Jamaica’s Primary Exit Profile (PEP)

News media and education circles in Jamaica have been abuzz following the announcement from Education Minister Ruel Reid that the Primary Exit Profile will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). Since its implementation in 1999, GSAT has been the assessment used to determine high school placement for students at the end of the primary education system. The Primary Exit Profile (PEP) is being proposed as a more holistic way to determine students’ readiness to exit the primary level of education, and to enter secondary school. Here are some questions that the average person might be asking about PEP.

What is the Primary Exit Profile (PEP)?

The Primary Exit Profile, or PEP, is the Ministry of Education’s new way of determining whether a student is ready to leave Grade Six and enter high school. It will replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), and should provide a better and more complete profile of students’ academic and critical thinking capabilities at the end of primary-level education.

When does the MOE want to implement this?

The PEP roll-out is scheduled for the start of the academic year 2018-19 (i.e., September 2018) on a phased basis. Students who are in grade five now will be the first official PEP cohort. They will do only the Grade Six components in 2019. Students who are currently in Grade Three will be the first cohort that will have a complete profile generated. This means that they will do the grade four performance task in 2019, grade five performance task in 2020 and all grade-six components in 2021. Students who are currently in grade-four will do their grade-five Performance Task in 2019 and in 2020 they will do the grade-six components.

Why are they replacing GSAT with PEP?

The Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is curriculum-based, and 50% of the items on the test assess students’ ability to recall information. By contrast, PEP is designed to focus on what the Ministry of Education terms “higher order cognitive skills”. It will not just assess the student’s ability to remember information, but also their ability to think critically, effectively process information, and be creative. This eliminates swatting and encourages the development of real thought and better understanding.

Additionally, PEP is designed to test only the information students are taught in Grade Six, eliminating the pressure GSAT students currently undergo to study material from grade four to six for the exam. It is also proposed that the PEP exam takes place in June, which would give schools more teaching and exam prep time.

According to The Gleaner article ‘All Set For PEP’, PEP also provides the following advantages:

– More accurate evidence-based information in terms of students’ performance will be available.

– Students’ completion of the curriculum and their progress will be monitored more regularly.

– More opportunities will be provided for teachers to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and therefore plan lessons to meet the specific needs of students.

– Students will become aware of their progress and teachers will work with students to improve their learning.


Ministry of Education Ministry Paper Curriculum & Assessment
‘All set for PEP’
‘Education Ministry Confident Step Towards PEP will Improve Student Outcome’
Jamaica Teachers’ Association ‘The More Things Change’