The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), a regional examining body in the Caribbean Commonwealth was established in 1972.
The Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams were designed to replace the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O'Level) exams. In the mid-1990s Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) exams were created to replace General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A'Level) exams.
CSEC examinations signify completion of secondary education and are offered under three Proficiency Schemes:
- Basic - provides students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes usually associated with completing a secondary course
- General - provides students with the foundation for further studies and entry to the workplace
- Technical - provides students with the foundation for further studies and entry to the workplace
Typically, institutions of higher education admitting CSEC holders look for passes in at least four subjects, though five is most common. In recent years, however, there has been a notable increase in CXC subjects that students write, with some students doubling, or even tripling, that number.
There is no limit in the number of subjects a student can write. As the Ministry of Education in Guyana has said, "in order for students to undertake on more than 10 subjects at the CXC, they must show remarkable competence." According to the former CXC Registrar, Dr Didacus Jules, " you should not put a limit on people’s capacity; whatever subject you feel you can do you ought to be allowed to do".