The Ultimate Comprehensive Guide for Passing WAEC's Examinations

It is no news that the 2019 West African Senior School Certificate Examination will soon kick off. As expected, registered students within and outside the country are up and running, doing everything possible to get ready to engage in an examination drill that may define their academic pursuit. Tammys English Blog takes you on an explicit journey on all you need to know, equipping you with the necessary know-how in time to sit for your examination. Below are a few things you will learn in this article:

1. Brief study about WAEC.
2. How to get prepared for WASSCE.
3. Rules applied to answering questions.
The Ultimate Comprehensive Guide for Passing WAEC's Examinations

The acronym, WAEC, simply means West African Examinations Council. It is an examination body that conducts the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for secondary/high school students in West African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia). It is a prerequisite for gaining admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria and other West African countries.

Why do I have to sit for this exam?
As stated earlier, it is a prerequisite for gaining admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria and other West African countries.

When does it begin?
The exam usually runs from April to June. However, dates are prone to review and adjustment.

What/How many subjects will I write? 
Every student taking this examination is expected to register at least nine subjects: the compulsory subjects (English Language, Mathematics, Economics, Civic Education, Data Processing and Biology) for arts, social science and science students and three other subjects relevant to the student’s discipline.

What does an excellent/failed WAEC result grade look like?
WAEC results are graded in alphanumerical format. And they are:
A1 (75 – 100%) is an Excellent grade.

B2 (70 – 74%) is a Very Good grade.

B3 (65 – 69%) is a Good grade.

C4 (60 – 64%) is a ‘Credit’ grade.

C5 (55 – 59%) is a ‘Credit’ grade.

C6 (50 – 54%) is also a ‘Credit’ grade.

D7 (45 – 49%) is a ‘Pass’ grade.

E8 (40 – 44%) is a ‘Pass’ grade.

F9 (0 – 39%) is Fail.

For a student to confidently say that he/she has passed his/her WASSCE, that student must have at least a ‘Credit’ grade in five subjects (including English and Mathematics) relevant to his/her discipline.

When are WAEC results released, and how can I check mine?
WAEC results are usually released in August or September although dates are sometimes subject to adjustment. See how to check your WASSCE result here.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said 'Failing to plan is planning to fail.' While those immortal words have been applied to diverse aspects of human endeavour (with positive results), I'd love to think he had the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in mind when he said them. Proper planning is the first real step to passing your exam. In fact, everything else is tied to it. As a normal student, there are bound to be common distractions or challenges coming forth from every corner, but you have to put them beside you in order to be at the top. Below are key steps for proper planning:

1. A straight head with a focused mind
Avoid unnecessary routine exercises. Make time to set a clear and attainable goal for yourself, and work hard towards making that goal feasible.

2. Put in the hard work
This has to do with creating a study guideline. You carve out time to read and study depending on your daily schedule.

3. Test your abilities
Test your reading, spelling and writing skill-set. If anyone comes up short of expectation, improve! 

4. Say no to procrastination
Procrastination is a terrible habit that leads to failure. Follow your study guideline diligently.

5. Have a clean mindset
Never walk into an examination hall with the mindset of expecting help from your school. Your expectation may be cut short. You must have independent knowledge of what to write. Besides, whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.

Having a WAEC question paper on your desk could be surreal, coupled with the fact it's a one-off exam that is totally different from what you're accustomed to in secondary/high school. This is enough reason to send butterflies ripping down your stomach. Consequently, you become naive, anxious, not knowing how to approach the questions placed before you. But what if someone sat you down in advance and let you in on what to expect? It would be a game changer for you, wouldn't it? Guide 3 will do well to let you in on how to approach questions with ease, thereby learning how to tackle them in ways pleasing to your examiners.

Before answering the examination questions, students are advised to cast a quick glance at all questions and attempt to answer the ones obviously known to them before returning back to the more complex ones. As expected, exam papers consist of two sections: objective and essay (sometimes called theory).

The ‘objective’ section consists of multiple choice questions. Students are to pick one option from the four options lettered A-D. WAEC allows for only 1 hour to be spent on this section.

There's more to essay than just ticking boxes (in objective). WAEC expects you to have and apply deep-rooted knowledge here. Thus it involves a lot of writing exercise. The essay consists of several parts, and you are to follow each according to the instruction on your question paper. These several parts often carry equal marks, and the time frame is 2 hours. Below are some key terms associated with Essay and Objective questions, and their detailed meaning:

Define: Provide the meaning of 

Outline: To list and explain with precision.

Describe: Give a detailed account of any given thing.

Identify: To indicate and establish what something is.

Enumerate: To mention separately in an orderly fashion.

Evaluate: Calculate, establish and tell the quality of a substance.

Relate: To show a connection between two or more things.

Recount/Give an account: To write or tell something (usually an event in the past). 

Comment on: Give an opinion (usually in strict accordance to what was taught).

Indicate: To point out or show.

Compare and contrast: To note what is similar and different.

With close reference: To pick out the most important aspects of the text and present them as clear, separate ideas, using examples.

Highlight: To attract attention to or emphasize something important.

Merit/pro: Simply means advantage.

Demerit/con: Simply means disadvantage.

Tier: Something with several rows or layers ahead or beneath it.

Feature: A distinctive attribute.

Function: The work of something.

Objective: Aim or desired goal.

Characteristics: What something is typically made up of.

How to Approach Practical Questions
Practical questions might involve physical or drawn-out specimens that are typically labelled from A, B, C to F. It may contain more. There are easy, yet tricky methods of answering questions. And most students usually fail woefully without knowing. Examine the specimens, (their structures and features) properly before attempting to answer any question.

When differentiating in tabular format, be sure to state, by comparing and contrasting, the exact opposite/substitute of something. For example, the difference of ‘Obi is a boy.’ would be ‘Ada is a girl.’ Avoid inter-changing answers, e.g., Obi is a boy; Ada is a woman.

Terms Associated with Practical Questions
Specimen: Something shown or examined as an example of its species.

Dissect: To separate into several pieces and expose several parts.

Observe: To watch carefully.

Taxonomy/Classify: Arrange something (especially organisms) in class or categories they belong.

Domain/kingdom/Phylum/Class/Order/Family: They're all orderly breakdown of organic taxonomy.

Specie: Organisms with similar attributes.

Apparatus: Technical equipment used for carrying out a particular task.

The key to scoring high marks in practical is to pay rapt attention to instructions.

It is the desire of every student to write WAEC once. If you consider the money, time and effort spent, you'd see the reason for such yearning. Research has shown that students fail WAEC because they have little or no knowledge of the above guidelines. In other words, if students have much understanding of these three markers and work tirelessly to perfecting each of them, failure will be far from them.

WAEC has often been described by many as a difficult examination. However, with the exception of a few who confess how easy it can be, such negative perception is and would always be up for debate. All you need to do is to work hard in order to be among the very few who see the examination in a good light.

© Victor Wisdom

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.

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