Why many fail English, Mathematics examinations —WAEC

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has explained reasons for the persistent poor performance of many students in its West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), especially in English Language and General Mathematics.

It also offered solutions to the problem, which has kept average performance of candidates in the examinations nationwide below 50 per cent over the years.

The examination body gave the explanation in its Chief Examiners’ Report made available to newsmen by the council’s spokesman, Mr Demianus Ojijeogu.

According to the report, WAEC observed that its examinations in various subjects in both the April/May school-based and October/November as well as February/March private candidates’ diets are usually standard and competitive and the questions asked on each aspect of every subject are also within the experience and competence of candidates, yet, so many candidates still perform poorly.

Citing English Language as an example, the council attributed the general poor performance in the subject to poor understanding of the questions answered, use of poor grammatical expression as well as wrong use of tenses, conjunctions, prepositions, articles and punctuation marks.

“We also observed that many do commit lots of spelling errors, make illogical and unbalanced presentation of ideas, especially in essay and letter writing, and cannot also construct simple and meaningful sentences let alone differentiate the main points from illustration and examples, especially in summary passage,” the council noted.

As regards Mathematics, another compulsory subject for all candidates, the council observed that many candidates are weak in calculation, especially in the aspect of measurement, theory, statistics, graphs and are poor in interpreting questions correctly.

However, on the best ways to tackle the challenges, WAEC identified schools, teachers and students themselves as three agents that could help in changing the narrative positively.

The council advised students to read extensively in order to broaden their knowledge on relevant subjects and topics; understand questions before attempting them; read their work all over to correct errors before submission; practise past WAEC question papers, and communicate frequently in simple, correct English Language

Teachers on their part are advised to endeavour to cover all aspects of the syllabus, teach basic rules and principles of grammatical expression, test students frequently on essay and letter writing, and attend seminars/workshops that could make them more effective in class.

The examination body advised schools to employ only competent and qualified teachers to handle various subjects, equip their libraries with relevant books and materials, and also sponsor their teachers for seminars and workshops.