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Mar 22, 2017

How to Easily and Effectively Answer Questions on WAEC, NECO and NABTEB Comprehension Passages


Unlike previous years when comprehension is only used by examination bodies to know how a student understood a particular passage, it is now gaining more popularity as even organisations use it to test the English proficiency of their applicants before employing them.

Therefore, it is important you know how to approach a given comprehension passage in order to be on a safer side. As a student, it is important you know how to approach a given comprehension passage in order to pass your English Exam very well. This article will help you on this.

Comprehension is the process of reading, understanding and explaining what is written in a passage. In comprehension, the thoughts of the writer are presented to the students for reading, understanding and explaining.

SSCE comprehension is aimed at knowing to what extent a student understands a given passage. This is judged by the student's ability to reproduce what he or she has read in the passage in his or her words. 

However, if a student is able to reproduce what he has read through mindless liftings (i.e. by lifting words from the passage), it shows that the student has not really understood the passage and might be penalized for that. Although the student is at liberty to make use of words from the passage, he/she must be careful not to be reckless in copying down the portion of the passage which he/she feels answers the question.

How to Approach SSCE Comprehension

Do not be in a hurry to answer your comprehension passage without taking time to understand the passage. Many students have failed English language because of this.

SSCE English examination (WAEC precisely) has two comprehension passages, each carrying 20 marks, making a total of 40 marks, so hasty answers might snatch these 40 marks from you. Hope you know what it means to lose 40 marks in any examination.

However, a careful follow-up of the steps below will keep your 40 marks intact:

1. Read the passage very carefully more than ones (at least three times) and make sure you understand the passage. The first reading brings you into close contact with the underlying message/theme of the passage. Read the passage the second time and while reading it, take note of the author's attitude to the underlying message of the passage. After the second reading of the passage, read questions in order to know the main points emphasized in the passage. Then, read the passage for the third time. While reading, note the relevant points that answer the question on the passage.

Please, the reading of the passage should be done quickly with full attention in order to have a total understanding of the passage. Until you understand the passage, do not answer the questions that follow.

2. Your answers should be in sentences unless otherwise stated.

3. Avoid mindless lifting. Though you are at liberty to use the words from the passage in your answers, you must be able to use your own words or expressions to show that you really understood the passage.

4. If you are asked to show comparison between two things or more in the passage, your answer must show such comparison.

5. Where you are asked to replace an underlined word in the passage with another word, your answer must fit in perfectly in terms of the contextual meaning and collocation. For example, if the underlined word is a noun, you must use another noun to replace it and it must have the contextual meaning of the underlined word.

6. Your answers must make sense before any part of it is accepted for scoring. Therefore, endeavour to give the correct answers.

7. Do not spell words wrongly. Spelling your words correctly shows your diligence. Therefore, you must take pains to spell your words correctly.

8. Avoid grammatical blunders because there is penalty for the use of wrong grammar. There must be an agreement between the subject and verb in your sentence.


Why Students Lose Marks in Comprehension

Students lose marks in comprehension due to the following reasons:

1. Giving two answers to a question. You don't need a soothsayer to tell you that you are expected to give one answer to a question. Where a student gives two answers to a question and one of them is wrong, zero is awarded to that answer.

2. Replacing underlined words or phrases with wrong synonyms. (See no. 5 above).

3. Grammatical and Expression error(s). For any grammatical and expression blunder committed, the penalty is a deduction of one and half mark from the total marks awarded to that question.

4. Giving answers that are not contained in the passage. In a comprehension passage, your opinion is not needed. You only reproduce and explain (in your own words) the thoughts of the writer as contained in the passage. You will not score any mark for writing answers which are not in the information provided in the passage.

If the the aforementioned are adequately followed, you will no doubt come out of the examination hall smiling.


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