KCSE 2015 English Paper 3 with Marking Scheme

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Answer only three questions only

  1. Imaginative Composition (Compulsory)
    1. Write a story to illustrate: (20 marks)
      "You reap what you sow."
    2. Write a composition explaining what should be done to reduce indiscipline in schools. (20 marks)
  2. The compulsory set text    (20 marks)
    "If we fail to be to be contented with who we are and what we have, we could end up leading miserable lives." Drawing examples from the lives of Otieno Kembo and Becky, write an essay to illustrate this statement.
  3. The Optional Set Texts  (20 marks)
    Answer any one of the following three questions. 
    1. The Short Story
      Emilia Ilieva and Waveney Olembo (Eds.), When the Sun Goes Down and Other Stories from Africa and Beyond.
      Using illustrations from Kenani's short story, "The Retraction", write a composition describing the steps we should take when our actions cause others to suffer.
    2. Drama
      Francis Imbuga, Betrayal in the City
      Drawing examples from Francis Imbuga's Betrayal in the City, write a composition on the role played by relatives in one's life.
    3. The Novel
      Witi Ihimaera, The Whale Rider
      "Although we are most secure at home, visiting other countries deepens our understanding of the world." Referring closely to the story of Rawiri, write an essay in the support of this statement.


Paper 101/3 is intended to test the candidates' ability to communicate in writing. Communication is established at different levels of intelligibility, correctness, accuracy, fluency, pleasantness and originality. Within the constraints set by each question, it is the linguistic competence shown by the candidate that should carry most of the marks.
Examiners should not hesitate to use the full range of marks for each essay.
It is important to determine first how each essay communicates and in which category A, B, C or D it fits.
(The marks indicated below are for question one.)

D CLASS The candidate either does not communicate at all or his language ability is so minimal (01 - 05) that the examiner practically has to guess what the candidate wants to say. The
candidate fails to fit the English words he knows into meaningful sentences. The subject is glanced at or distorted. Practically no valid punctuation. All kinds of errors (“Broken English”).
D-01-02 Chaotic, little meaning whatsoever. Question paper or some words from it simply copied.
D03 Flow of thought almost impossible to follow. The errors are continuous.
D+ 04-05 Although the English is often broken and the essay is full of errors of all types, we can at least guess what the candidate wants to say.

C CLASS (06 - 10) The candidate communicates understandably but only more or less clearly. He is not confident with his language. The subject is often undeveloped. There may be some digressions. Unnecessary repetitions are frequent. The arrangement is weak and the flow jerky. There is no economy of language; mother tongue influence is felt.
C-06-07 The candidate obviously finds it difficult to communicate his/her ideas. He/she is seriously hampered by his/her very limited knowledge of structure and vocabulary. This results in many gross errors of agreement, spelling, misuse of prepositions, tenses, verb agreement and sentence construction.
C08 The candidate communicates but not with consistent clarity. His/her linguistic abilities being very limited, he/she cannot avoid frequent errors in sentence structure. There is little variety or originality. Very bookish English, links are weak, incorrect, repeated at times.
C+09-10 The candidate communicates clearly but in a flat and uncertain manner. Simple sentence forms are often strained. There may be an overuse of cliches, unsuitable idioms, proverbs are misquoted or misinterpreted. The flow is still jerky. There are some errors of agreement, tenses and spelling.

B CLASS (11 - 15)
This class is characterized by greater fluency and ease of expression. The candidate demonstrates that he/she can use English as a normal way of expressing himself/ herself. Sentences are varied and usually well constructed. Some candidates become ambitious and even over-ambitious. There may be items of merit of the one word or one expression type. Many essays in this category may be just clean and unassuming but they still show that the candidate is at ease with the language. There may be a tendency to under mark such essays. Give credit for tone.
B - 11-12 The candidate communicates fairly and with some fluency. There may be little variety in sentence structure. Gross errors are still found occasionally, but this must not be overpunished by the examiner.
B 13 The sentences are varied but rather simple and straight forward. The candidate does not strain himself in an effort to impress. There is a fair range of vocabulary and idiom. Natural and effortless. Some items of merit, economy of language.
B+ 14 - 15 The candidate communicates his ideas pleasantly and without strain. There are errors and slips. Tenses, spelling and punctuation are quite good. A number of items of merit of the "whole sentence” or the "whole expression” type.

A CLASS (16 - 20)
The candidate communicates not only fluently, but attractively, with originality and efficiency. He/She has the ability to make us share his deep feelings, emotions, enthusiasms. He/She expresses himself freely and without any visible constraint. The script gives evidence of maturity, good planning and often humour. Many items of merit which indicate that the candidate has complete command of the language. There is no strain, just pleasantness, clever arrangement, felicity of expression.
A - 16-17 The candidate shows competence and fluency in using the language. He may lack imagination or originality which usually provide the "spark” in such essays. Vocabulary, idiom, sentence structure, links, variety are impressive. Gross errors are very rare.
A 18 Positive ability. A few errors that are felt to be slips. The story or argument has a definite impact. No grammar problem. Variety of structures. A definite spark. Many margin ticks.
A+ 19-20 The candidate communicates not only information and meaning, but also and especially the candidate's whole self: his/her feelings, tastes, points of view, youth, culture. This ability to communicate deeply may express itself in a wide range of effective vocabulary, original approach, vivid and sustained account in the case of a narrative, well developed and ordered argument in the case of a debate or discussion. Errors and slips should not deprive the candidate of the full marks he deserves. A very definite spark.

A A+ 19 - 20
A 18
A- 16 - 17
B B+ 14 - 15
B 13
B- 11 - 12
C C+ 09-10
C 08
C- 06-07
D D+ 04-05
D 03
D-  01-02


  1. The main signs indicate three degrees of seriousness of error.
      This sign in the margin is used only when a construction error affects more than one line.
  1. The following symbols may also be used
    REPETITION - R (of words) a circle around the word R.
    (of ideas) usually in the margin
    obscure/vague (in margin) (obsc.)
    WRONG WORD ORDER - WO - Underline once and write W.O. in margin
    ILL (in margin)
    BROKEN ENGLISH when the candidate fails to communicate BR in margin. - BR
    COW to indicate that a candidate has cancelled own work.
    BRACKETS [ ] indicate a part of a D script that communicates.
    * Use an asterisk to indicate an item or a sentence that the rubrics indicate should be used.
  2. TO INDICATE AN ITEM OF MERIT use a tick (V) either above a word or in the margin for the whole sentence.
    1. Almost any error of agreement
    2. Serious tense error
    3. Errors of elementary vocabulary: spelling and misuse
    4. Punctuation errors or missing punctuation which causes serious lack of communication.
    5. Elementary errors of sentence construction.
    6. Ridiculous use of idiom that affects communication.
    7. Misuse of common prepositions
    8. Misuse of capital letters - Use CAPS and underline on the first page and use CAPS on subsequent pages where the mistake persists.
    9. Contracted forms except in dialogue.


  1. Decide on the degree of communication achieved, A-D
  2. After underlining decide on the mark category
  3. Allocate a numerical mark to the essay.

All problem scripts must be marked by the examiner and then sent to the Team Leader with comments.

    1. Consistent distortion of question, evasion of question, writing on a totally different subject with a clumsy attempt at connecting the essay to the subject given, inclusion of memorised passages, etc.
    2. The question is given an unacceptable or questionable interpretation.
    3. Essays contain long, semi-relevant digressions or lack coherence.
      The examiner marks the essay, gives a linguistic mark and comments on the nature of the irrelevancy. The essay is then passed over to the team leader who judges whether the irrelevancy should be judged as a deliberate attempt to deceive or should be attributed to the candidate's poor understanding of the subject. Deduct up to 4 marks for irrelevancy in the essay. If dishonesty is suspected, the Chief Examiner should be informed. Any deduction of 3 marks or more should be referred to the Chief Examiner.
    Since the rubrics may change from year to year, the POINTS OF INTERPRETATION that are part of this MARKING SCHEME must be consulted and adhered to faithfully. Here are some general rules that usually apply.
    1. Decide on the category D+ D or D-.
    2. Mark the errors on the first page of the essay.
    3. Read the other pages, if the essay still does not communicate, draw a diagonal line across each page.
    4. Team leaders should look at a good number of those scripts and ensure that the mark given is fair.
    It should be remembered that the main quality of an essay is how effectively it communicates. If an essay looks too short, the examiner should take the time to count the exact number of words.
  5. Essay must not exceed 450 words - if not AD 2 marks.
    A good number of words and expressions are understood and currently used by all Kenyans. They can be used in essays without any need for quotation marks or explanations. We can include among those:
    panga, rungu, shamba, murram, matatu, wananchi, ugali, madarasa, harambee, matoke maendeleo ya Wanawake, salaam, ayah, askari debe, duka, Nyayo, boma, sukumawiki, goat party, manyatta, magendo.
    Although “English” spelling is more common than “American” spelling in Kenya, examiners should accept both spellings and no penalty should be given for such variations. Penalize for lack of consistency in usage of either.


    1. Must be a story. If not deduct 4 marks AD. The story must be illustrative of the saying. The saying is often used to indicate that actions have consequences/actions or deeds of a person repay him/her in kind. Thus, one will eventually have to face up to the consequences of his/her actions.
    2. Expect an expository/explanatory essay. Points should be explained as clearly as possible.
      Possible points:
      • Guidance and counselling e.g.
        • Individual and group counselling
        • Motivational speakers
      • Enhanced dialogue e.g.
        • hold regular barazas
        • Make use of suggestion boxes
      • Allow students to have a say in decision making, e.g. election of their leaders
      • Have few, simple and clear rules and a clear mechanism for reinforcing them.
      • Involve everyone concerned, i.e. parents, teachers, students etc
      • Establish a strong learning culture.
      • Keep students occupied in useful activities.
        (Accept other relevant points)


  1. Compulsory set text
    People who refuse to face reality and instead keep wishing they were like someone else, are unlikely to experience fulfilment. Rather than admit their weaknesses and work on their strengths, they sit and sulk and indulge in self-pity, always looking for someone to blame for their troubles. Two characters in The River and the Source, Otieno and Becky, are good examples of such people.
    (Accept any other relevant introduction = 2 marks)
    • Otieno's jealousy: Let us begin by examining the life of Otieno. He compares himself with his brother Owuor and because he cannot measure up, he becomes jealous of his brother's success and begins to resent him. Owuor is a gentleman. He deals with his brother with patience and restraint but Otieno will not relent in his craving for what his brother has eg. marriage, wealth, negotiation. Owuor is contented with one wife and two sons but Otieno, in trying to outdo his brother, marries one wife after another and has numerous children. However, we are told that his wives are colourless and shiftless. What he thought would bring him joy fails him. pgs 66, 73, 74. Negotiation pgs 22, 23, 24.
    • Leadership: Otieno is at loggerheads with everyone. He tries to dispossess Akoko after Owuor's death but ends up suffering humiliation. He even usurps the chieftaincy but it brings him little happiness. Otieno's life is miserable. Instead of working hard, he covets what others have earned through their sweat and prudence. How can you be happy if no one likes you or even respects you? Pgs 72, 73, 74, 77, 86-7, 89, 90, 91-2, 93, 120.
    • Otieno's marriages: Otieno marries one shiftless wife after another in persuit of happiness. Pgs 30, 39, 47,73
    • Beckys beauty: Becky is a girl endowed with stunning looks, some people would say she is drop-dead beautiful. But instead of acknowledging her assets, she is bitter with her sister, Vera, and resents her deeply. Yet Vera is gracious and genuinely cares for her sister. What is Vera's crime? She happens to perform better in school and gets much attention. Becky cannot cope with this. Pgs 173-4, 175, 181,219-20, 196-7, 228-9.
    • Becky's lifestyle: In her attempt to compensate for what she thinks she lacks, she tries one thing after another, gets into one relationship after another but never finds true happiness and peace. Those who do not really know her think her life is full of glamour. However, Becky feels empty inside. Happiness has been elusive. She clashes with those closest to her, is insensitive and is ashamed to introduce her fiancé to her parents. Becky confides in Vera towards the end and reveals how miserable her life has been. Pgs 217, 218, 219, 2205,268-9, 276-7, 279, 280, 284, 285.
    • Becky's marriage: She meets and gets married to John Courtney and has children, Johnie and Alicia. Because of search for happiness, she becomes promiscuous and the relationship breaks. Pgs 220-5, 268, 276-7, 278, 279, 284, 308.

      In conclusion, we can say that the lives of Otieno and Becky prove to us that unless we accept ourselves, finding meaning in life will elude us. Perhaps the very people you wish you were like are wishing they were like you.
      (Accept any other valid conclusion = 2 marks) Accept any 4 developed points (two for Otieno, 2 for Becky) = (12 marks)
      Grammar and presentation = 4 marks
  2. Optional Set Text
    1. The Short Story
      Because of foolishness, we do things which destroy the ambitions and dreams of our fellow human beings. The question is: what do we do after we discover our mistakes? How do we deal with our guilt? And how do we make it up to those we have offended? These questions are dealt with in Kenani's story "The Retraction".
      (Accept any other relevant introduction = 2 marks)
      • Background: On a flight to Johannesburg in Malawi Air, the narrator is on a drinking spree. He keeps asking for more drinks from the hostess even before he finishes what he is drinking. The hostess who turns out to be Tatha advises him to finish what he is drinking before he asks for some more. The narrator takes offence and writes angry comments to the airline accusing Tatha of having been “rude” to him “throughout the flight.” Pgs 140, 141, 142.
      • Realization: On receiving the false complaint, Malawi Air management sacks Tatha. Tatha's dream is shattered. “You have killed my dream,” she tells the narrator in an email. "You have taken away from me what I loved most." The irony is that for the narrator, the trip to Johannesburg by air is a dream come true. He had won the air ticket at a raffle draw. The win electrified his village so much so that "one Vimbuza dancer ... had composed a song about my flight”. In fact on this realization he uses proceeds from his dream to correct the other dream. Pgs 139, 140, 141, 148, 149, 150.
      • Guilt: The narrator, after receiving Tatha's email, is haunted by a sense of guilt. His big problem is how to retract his accusations and have Tatha reinstated. A related problem is to apologize to the innocent lady who has paid dearly for his foolishness. Pgs 141, 142, 143, 144, 147, 148, 150.
      • Reply: The narrator replied to Tatha’s email, apologizing profusely and promising to assist her to get reinstated. Unfortunately for him, Tatha did not respond. Pgs 141, 143-4.
      • The journey: The narrator travelled by bus from Lusaka to Blantyre, using the money he got from selling a wrist watch he had bought in Johannesburg. This was an expensive watch, a Rolex, which he undersold at 80,000 kwacha, instead of 120,000 kwacha. This explains the extent to which the narrator was ready to go to redeem himself. Pgs 143, 144, 145, 147, 148.
      • Retraction: In Blantyre, the narrator met the Chief Executive of Malawi Air and retracted his accusations orally and in writing. The Chief Executive promised to present the retraction to the disciplinary committee in the hope that they would reconsider the case. Pgs 143, 145, 147.
      • Personal apology: The next step was to see Tatha herself and apologize in person. In spite of this persistence, Tatha is at first unforgiving. “Your arrogance ... your unfeeling, cruel hand signed my death sentence, killing my dream ..." She was shouting at him (149). "Just go away!” She said, as she shut the door on him. Shortly later, the forgiving instinct overwhelmed her, and she ran after him as it was raining. “... I think it is not good to pay back one wrong with another. Come into the house. Leave after the raining stops" (150). Pgs 144, 147, 149, 150.
      • The resolve: The details of her reinstatement are not given, but when the narrator picks a copy of Msafiri, the Kenya Airways magazine, the narrator sees the picture of Tatha and sees the words: "Meet Tatha, Kenya Airways' Employee of the Year.” Tatha has bounced back and repossessed her dream, in part because of the narrator's enormous efforts to retract his accusations and thereby redeem himself. Pg 150.

        The take-away from this story is that if we wrong other people who might be innocent, if we falsely accuse them, we need to seek forgiveness, help them to get back on their feet, and by so-doing redeem ourselves. This is an important moral lesson.
        (Accept any other valid conclusion = 2 marks) Accept any 4 developed points = (12 marks)
        Grammar and presentation = 4 marks
    2. The play
      Humans are social beings. Relatives find joy and fulfilment in helping and supporting others. In the same way, they need the help and support of other people. Usually, you help mostly your relatives and at the same time expect them to support and help you. There are several sets of relatives in Betrayal in the City who play key roles in the lives of others. Nina and Doga are husband and wife, and are the parents of Jusper and the late Adika. Mosese has a sister, Regina; Mulili claims to be the cousin of Boss; Chagaga is the brother of the sub-chief.
      (Accept any other relevant introduction = 2 marks)
      • Company: Relatives keep each other company in moments of loss. Doga and Nina keep each other company after losing Adika, their son. We see them checking on the grave together. Even Jusper, who is emotionally disturbed by the loss of his brother, joins them at the grave. Pgs 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10.
      • Sacrifices: Relatives make great sacrifices for one another. Regina takes the risk of going to see Boss to plead for her brother's release, even though she is warned that he has “ridiculous weakness for women.” She constantly visits her brother in prison; Doga and Nina pay for their devotion to their late son with their own lives; Jusper ends up in prison for killing the man who was 'defiling' his brother's grave. Pgs 4,5,6,7, 11-12, 25, 29, 45, 46,61.
      • Cultural rites: Relatives stand up for one another even when there are dire consequences. Doga and Nina plan to have their final rites performed on their son's grave, even when they are threatened with death. Jusper braves the night rain to guard his brother's grave. Pgs 1-3, 5,8,9.
      • Fight for justice: Jusper's parents and brother Adika were killed unjustly therefore Jusper vows to fight for justice. Pgs 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 33, 34, 35, 65 - 74.
      • Betrayal: Mulili uses the fact that he is the cousin of Boss to intimidate others and to acquire property irregularly. At the end of the play, Boss is so embarrassed by Mulili's betrayal that he prefers to die “spare me this betrayal. Shoot me!' Pgs 13, 54, 58-59, 60,
      • Suffering: People can bring a lot of suffering to their relatives because of the choices they make. Nina and Doga suffer and are later murdered because of being the parents of the late university students' leader, Adika. Jusper turns to a murderer, a prisoner and an emotionally disturbed person because of being the brother of Adika; Regina is beaten up, and gets herself in a compromising situation because of her brother, Mosese's, stand. Pgs 1-4,5-6, 7-8,9-12, 25, 26, 29, 32-34, 45-6, 60, 61.
        Relatives make demands on your time, your emotions and sometimes on your money, but sometimes when you are on the receiving end, and they are there for you, you count yourself lucky to have them.
        (Accept any other valid conclusion = 2 marks) Accept any 4 developed points. (expect at least 3 points for, and 1 point against)
        Grammar and presentation = 4 marks
    3. The Novel
      Many of us hesitate to venture out of the comforts of home because we fear the unknown. At home, we are surrounded by people who care about us. However, when we go to another town or country, we are on our own and life may not only prove tough and lonely, but we could also be exposed to all kinds of danger. Rawiri leaves his country and a close-knit community and travels to Australia and Papua New Guinea. He experiences culture shock all right, but he also broadens his understanding of people.
      (Accept any other relevant introduction = 2 marks)
      • Adventure: Rawiri is quite settled and comfortable in Whangara. He gets along well with his family members and his peers and is actively engaged in the life of the community. His grandfather is the chief, which means that his family enjoys some prestige. However, Rawiri is the adventurous type and decides to explore what life is like in other places. Pgs 16 - 18, 24, 27, 30, 47, 52.
      • New culture: When Rawiri goes to Australia, at first he is shocked by the behaviour of fellow Maoris. Away from home, they exercise liberties that surprise Rawiri. "It was there that I came upon my cousin Hanare, who was now wearing a dress, and another cousin, Reremoana, who had changed her name to Lola L'Amour and had red hair and fishnet stockings" (Page 48). Rawiri learns to accept the fact that they have a right to do what they want with their lives. He did not agree with them but he let them be. “In the search for fame, fortune, power and success, some of my cousins had opted for the base metal and not the gold”. Pgs 48 - 49.
      • Friendship: He makes friends with people from other nationalities. Jeff becomes a very close companion and through him, Rawiri learns about other cultures. When they go to Papua New Guinea together, Rawiri begins to appreciate the differences and similarities between his country and Papua New Guinea. Pgs 48, 49, 50, 51-4.
      • Challenges: Papua New Guinea is facing many challenges and this is the way he sums it up: "... the new technology demanded that the people had to live 'one thousand years in one lifetime’, from the loincloth to the three-piece suit and computer knowledge in simple steps." Pgs 54 - 55. The challenges widen his horizon.
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