Analysis of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination Chemistry Questions according to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy


  • Johnson Enero Upahi University of Ilorin
  • David Oluwadamilare Israel University of Ilorin
  • Adekunle Solomon Olorundare University of Ilorin


Bloom’s revised taxonomy, cognitive process skills, knowledge dimension, chemistry questions, higher order cognitive skills


The current reform in science education across the world is a deliberate effort to develop students’ higher order cognitive skills (HOCS) through question asking, critical thinking, and problem solving. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to improve on the quality of questions asked in examinations. Therefore, this study analyzes chemistry questions asked in examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). 328 Chemistry questions for a period of 5 years were analyzed using the framework of Bloom’s revised taxonomy that reflects dual perspective on learning and cognition. It was found that 80% of the questions merely measured students’ lower order cognitive skills (LOCS), while 49.4% and 19.5% of the questions measured conceptual and procedural knowledge respectively. The results further revealed that none of the questions require students to employ metacognitive knowledge. It is concluded that the questions place much emphasis on LOCS, than on HOCS.

Author Biographies

Johnson Enero Upahi, University of Ilorin

David Oluwadamilare Israel, University of Ilorin



Anderson, L. W. & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Azar, A. (2005). Analysis of Turkish high-school physics-examination questions and university entrance exams questions according to Bloom’s taxonomy. Journal of Turkish Science Education, 2(2), 144–150. Retrieved from

Barak M., Ben-Chaim, D. & Zoller, U. (2007). Purposely teaching for the promotion of higher-order thinking skills: A case of critical thinking. Journal of Research in Science Education, 37, 353–369. DOI 10.1007/s11165-006-9029-2

Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives - Handbook 1 Cognitive domain. London: Longmans.

Dixon-Roman, E. (2011). Assessment to inform teaching and learning. Assessment, Teaching and Learning, 1(2), 1–8. Retrieved from

Edwards, N. (2010). An analysis of the alignment of the Grade 12 physical sciences examination and the core curriculum in South Africa. South African Journal of Education, 30(4), 571–-590.

Gordon, E. W. (2001, September). Affirmative development of academic ability. Pedagogical Inquiry and Praxis, 2. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College, Institute for Urban and Minority Education.

Karamustafaoĝlu, S., Sevim, S., Karamustafaoĝlu, O. & Çepni, S. (2003). Analysis of Turkish high school chemistry examination questions according to Bloom’s taxonomy. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 4(1), 25–30. Retrieved from

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41 (4), 212–218.

Mansell, W., James, M. & the Assessment Reform Group. (2009). Assessment in schools. Fit for purpose? A commentary by the teaching and learning research programme. London: Economic and Social Research Council, Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Retrieved from

Mason G. (1998). Change and diversity: The challenges facing higher education. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Tikkanen, G. & Aksela, M. (2012). Analysis of Finnish chemistry matriculation examinations questions According to cognitive complexity. NORDINA, 8(3), 258–268. Retrieved from index.php/nordina/article/viewFile/532/578

Tsaparlis, G. & Zoller, U (2003). Evaluation of higher vs. lower-order cognitive skills-type examinations in chemistry: Implications for university in-class assessment and examinations. University Chemistry Education, 7(2), 50–57.

West African Examinations Council (2005). Regulations and syllabuses for the West African school certificate examination (WASSCE). WAEC, Accra, Ghana.

Zheng, A. Y., Lawhorn, J. K., Lumley, T. & Freeman, S. (2008). Application of Bloom’s taxonomy debunks the MCAT myth. Science, 319, 414–415.

Zoller, U. & Pushkin, D. (2007). Matching higher-order cognitive skills (HOCS) promotion goals with problem-based laboratory practice in a freshman organic chemistry course. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8(2), 153–171. Retrieved from

Zoller, U. & Tsaparlis, G. (1997). Higher and lower-order cognitive skills: The case of chemistry. Research in Science Education, 27, 117–130.

Zoller, U. (2001). Alternative assessment as (critical) means of facilitating HOCS-promoting teaching and learning in chemistry education. Chemical Education Research and Practice in Europe, 2(1), 9–17

Zoller, U., Ben-Chaim, D., Ron, S., Pentimalli, R., & Borsese, A. (2000). The disposition toward critical thinking of high school and university science students: An inter-intra Israeli–Italian study. International Journal of Science Education, 22(6), 571–582.

Zoller, U., Dori, Y., & Lubezky, A. (2002). Algorithmic, LOCS and HOCS (chemistry) exam questions: Performance and attitudes of college students. International Journal of Science Education, 24(2), 185–203.




How to Cite

Upahi, J. E., Israel, D. O., & Olorundare, A. S. (2017). Analysis of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination Chemistry Questions according to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. International Journal of Physics &Amp; Chemistry Education, 9(3), 11–17. Retrieved from