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Guide to passing WASSCE Nov/Dec exams

Passing any exam has never been an easy task. In fact, most people are frightened at the thought of having to face an examination.

Taking the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam for Senior High School is one of those exams that most students dread.

Indeed other exams organized by the Council into the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) are not easy. It comes with its own difficulty but the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) is not easy.

RELATED: 2017 Nov/Dec centers released

For most students who fail in this exam, it is a major blow because it is one of the biggest impediments to progressing to pursue tertiary education.

Fortunately, those who fail in the exams at the end of their 3-year academic period in Senior High School (SHS) have an array of hope to correct the wrongs by taking the private WASSCE which most people call Nov/Dec.

It is Nov/Dec because, at the inception of it, it was usually written between November and December, however in recent times, the exams are written far before November.

RELATED: WAEC re-opens Nov/Dec registration for 2017 WASSCE candidates

In this article, I’ll like to share a few tips on how to pass the Nov/Dec exams. This is important because it is for persons who may still be dealing with the trauma of failing a major exam.

Before we jump into the detail let us talk about Who can write Nov/Dec exams.

The Nov/Dec exam is open to 3 classes of people:

  1. People who are in Senior High School but want to try their hands at writing the WASSCE exam
  2. People who have completed Senior High School but failed one or more subjects and want to correct it.
  3. Persons who have not attended Senior High School or dropped out of Senior High School but wish to further their education.

The first group of people, those still in Senior High School are sometimes challenged from partaking in the exams.

RELATED: WAEC releases 2017 Nov/Dec index numbers

How to register for Nov/Dec

Registering for Nov/Dec is similar to registration for the main WASSCE exams but this time, with an authorized private agency or school.

The registration involves taking your biodata (name, date of birth, ID etc). You will be required to indicate the subjects you will be taking.

NB: The number of subjects you wish to write determines the cost. As a general rule, the more the subject, the lower the cost.

It will take a few weeks before your index number will be given.

RELATED: DOWNLOAD: Nov/Dec 2017 timetable

How do you make sure you pass this time around?

It will require a little more thinking and commitment if you want to pass your Nov/Dec. Most people say it is more difficult to pass the Nov/Dec than the actual WASSCE but I disagree.


Here are a few pointers:

1. Psych yourself up: On the myth about Nov/Dec being difficult, compared to the May/June exams, it is only a saying to encourage people to study hard and pass once and for all. Taking the May/June and Nov/Dec exams, there is really no significant difference between them.

The important thing you should be doing is psyching yourself up. I think it is more of an emotional battle than the physical paper you are going to write. You will be dealing with the feeling of failure that you couldn’t make it the first time and the anxiety of taking an exam which in the worst case will mean another 1 year delay in your formal education journey. (Most Nov/Dec sitters are those who failed a subject or more in the May/June exams and are looking to better their grades to qualify them into tertiary institutions).

You should have a mindset of passing the exams, and the determination to do just that.


2. Set realistic targets: If you are writing the Nov/Dec just to for instance make your Mathematics grades better than the ‘D7, E8 or F9’ you got in the May/June exams, set a realist target of what you feel is an impressive performance. It may be C6 or C4 or perhaps a B3.

This is not to say, you should have a mediocre mentality and not strive for the best but the truth is, you must assess your strength and determine what will be an impressive performance based on your strength.

Being someone who has struggled with Mathematics in the past, I know that getting an A1 or B2 was not within my reach immediately, my target was between C4 and C6, it was realistic and it was easy for me to believe I could achieve that.

Do same and work towards it.


3. Don’t forget the past questions: Beyond the mind games that can help you succeed, there is the practical aspect too, which is equally important. It is no brainer that WAEC exams are often filled with repeated questions from the past, of course with different values but the same concepts.

It is often said that WAEC will not “import and strange question from anywhere”. It will set questions from what is in the SHS syllabus. For an examination body that has been conducting the SHS exams for more than 10 years, you can be rest-assured that if you have gone through all the questions they have ever set, you can comfortably ready yourself for their next exam without anxiety.

This has worked for most people. Some even say that going through past question is the best thing to do when you have studied nothing and your exam is only a few days away.

This is not a guarantee but as a personal guide, the 5 consecutive previous exams will be important for your study.


4. Study: Going through past questions is different from studying. The difficulty for most of us is the discipline to sit down for 2 or 3 hours or even more to study. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to studying, not even studying past questions can replace this because without getting a general understanding of concepts, the past questions cannot help you much.

Discipline yourself to take some time to study, even if you think it is a “soft subject”. Make use of jotters, small notepads.


5. Keep calm: No need to stress this. There are some people who pass out in exam hall due to excessive anxiety. Just relax and deliver. Relax and work at our own pace according to the time allotted.

To help you do this, make sure that before you step out of your house, you have confirmed the examination center and your subject.

There have been unfortunate instances where people move from one area to the other, apparently lost about where their center is. Even though you may be aware of where you are writing the exams, make sure you double-check the morning of writing the paper, check that you have all the necessary tools for that paper, the time the paper is starting, your index number and so on.

With these, you should be good to go and be without fear of failing in the Nov/Dec exams.

All the best.




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