Choice of CDs, burning and packaging computer practical work for UNEB

Every year, many Computer Studies and ICT teachers keep wondering which type of disk is the most suitable to use in practical examinations plus the best way for candidates to burn/write their work onto the disks, especially for during the Final Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) examinations.


Over the years, as technology has been evolving, UNEB has been changing the type of disks they have been asking schools to use for computer studies practical exams. The images below are scans of title pages of UCE UNEB 2011 computer Studies paper two and last year’s UCE UNEB 2017 computer studies paper two.

As you can notice, in 2011, UNEB was still accepting a new 3.5” diskette of high density or a blank compact disc – rewritable (CD-RW). By then, many schools were still using Windows XP and the concept of formatting a CD-R to a live file system was not supported – it was introduced in newer versions of Windows. So UNEB was asking for CD-RWs – because if a candidate makes a mistake or adds wrong content, the CD-RW can be erased and new content added. But with the introduction of the new file system, even CD recordable (CD-R)s now support adding and removing content from the optical disk.

By 2017, UNEB had changed the instructions to candidates for the practical exam, now simply asking for a new blank Compact Disc (CD) – no longer asking for floppy diskettes and CD-RWs. Also notice that the time allocation for the paper has since changed from 2 hours 15 minutes in 2011 to 2 hours 30 minutes in 2017.


UNEB Circulars and use of Flask disks.

The new instructions to candidates on question papers are also in line with two UNEB circulars which were in 2016 sent to schools with guidelines concerning UCE computer studies and UACE subsidiary ICT practical examinations. As per the instructions, Flash disks are no longer acceptable (mainly because of computer viruses which commonly infect USB drives and corrupt or hide candidates work as experienced during the marking of UNEB 2015 examinations). The circulars were also shared by UNEB through their portal and are also linked below:


Disadvantages of using CD-RWs as compared to CD-Rs

  • CD-RWs have a slower access/read/write speed – indeed, some computer optical disk drives cannot read them as compared to CD-Rs which are the simplest and compatible to most optical disk drives.
  • CD-RWs are more expensive, on average a single CD-RW costs UGX 4,000 as compared to UGX 1000 for a CD-R.

At the marking centres, many examiners hate marking candidates work which has been packed on CD-RWs because the CD-RWs delay them as they take longer to open as compared to CD-Rs which are faster to read.


Packaging candidates work for UNEB

UNEB recommends that the CDs of the candidates should be packed in smaller (jewel) boxes and the printed copies of the candidates to be sealed in the return envelopes. These should then be sealed together in another property labelled bigger box to avoid the separation and misplacement of the printed copies.

Schools are discouraged from buying poor quality CDs, especially those which are stacked in a cylindrical pack. The CDs should be sold in separate jewel boxes as shown below.

Don’t stack disks, because this can easily spoil them. CDs which are stacked together commonly get broken during transit. As such, it is always good to ensure that the candidates make a printout of all their work – in case the softcopy on CD cannot open or the CD is broken, the examiners will only have one option of resorting to the hardcopies and scoring some marks there, otherwise the candidates will get zero marks.


Guidelines on Burning / Writing Files and Folders to a CD in Windows 7/8/10

During the recent ICT Teachers Capacity building workshop / AGM 2018, there was a heated debate about CD burning. Below are some procedures and guidelines on this topic:

There are many third party application software programs for burning CDs and DVDs like Nero, and Ashampoo burning studio, but then Windows already has built-in burning software in Explorer. Windows also gives you a great option while burning CDs and DVDs called Live File System, which basically makes your CD or DVD act like a USB flash drive, meaning you can edit, add and delete files on the disc just like you do on a flash drive.

To get started, pop a CD or DVD into your Windows PC and you should see a dialog appear either in Notification Center or as an AutoPlay window.


If no dialog box comes up for you, then just open Windows Explorer and double-click on the CD/DVD drive icon. Another box will pop up asking you how you would like to use this disc.

Give the disc a title and then choose whether you want it to act like a USB flash drive or like a mastered disc.

The disadvantage of using the flash drive option / Live File System is that

  • The disc will not be fully compatible with all drives / readers.
  • You can only use the disc on PCs running Windows XP and higher, and
  • It takes a little longer as the CD has to be formatted to a live file system first.
  • The Live File Systen CD also does not eject immediately when required because it has to finalise session everytime you are to eject – which may consume more time for the candidates, especially those sharing the burners CD-writers like the N-Computing setup which is common in Uganda Schools.

So, if you don’t intend to keep modifying data on the disc like in the case for UNEB where candidates burn thier work once at the end of the exam, then you should choose the second mastered option which is faster.

The Mastered disc format is the one most people will be familiar with, as it’s been around for much longer. When you use the Mastered disc format, you can only burn to a disc once. This is ideal if you’re filling a disc up with files or burning an ISO image to it.

However, the single-burn restriction applies no matter how many files you’re burning. For example, if you use the Mastered disc format and burn 50 MB of files to a disc, you can’t go back and add more files later. Once a non-rewritable disc is burned with a Mastered format, its state is final. The hundreds of megabytes you could have used are lost – one burn is the limit.

However, the Mastered disc format is more compatible. You can use Mastered discs with versions of Windows earlier than Windows XP and other types of devices, such as DVD players and CD players. These devices don’t usually support Live File System discs.

When using the Mastered disc format with rewritable discs, you’ll have to use an “Erase” operation that wipes the entire disc to delete files. You can’t simply delete individual files from a disc to recover space.

After that, you’ll get an empty Explorer window where you can start to copy-and-paste or drag and drop the files you want to burn to the disc.

The best thing to do here is to open another Explorer window with the files you want to burn.

Once you have copied all the files you want to burn, Windows displays a temporary area where the files are held before they are copied to the CD. Check that the files and folders that you intend to copy to the CD are displayed under Files Ready to Be Written to the CD.

To write the files to the disc, click on Manage under Drive Tools and you’ll see an option called Finish burning. In Windows 7, you’ll see a Burn to disc option.

The burn wizard will appear and here you can choose the recording speed. By default, it should automatically be set to the fastest speed your drive can support.

Once the burn is completed, you should get a successful message and the window may disappear.

Delete CD Temporary Files

Note: When you delete the contents of the temporary storage area, you make this area available for another person to who wants to burn files to the CD. Many times students find their work on other people’s discs because their files were not deleted from the temporary burning area on the computer marked Files Ready to be written to the Disc (7).

  • Double-click My Computer, and then double-click the CD drive.
  • Under CD Writing Tasks, click Delete Temporary Files.

Windows deletes the files and folders from the temporary storage area and moves them to the Recycle Bin.

That’s it! It’s a very simple and straight-forward process to burn a CD or DVD in Windows and you don’t have to worry about finding and installing third-party software anymore just to burn a few discs. Enjoy!

Note: After you copy files or folders to the CD, it is useful to view the CD to confirm that the files are copied.