Gabriel Dike and Gloria Ikegbule
Over three million candidates are currently preparing to sit for the May/June 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) nationwide. As a result, stakeholders have offered tips on how they can excel and also avoid trouble during the examinations. They believed that if the candidates adhered to the tips, they would record success at the end of the two public examinations.
Statistics available indicate that over 1.5million candidates would sit for the May/June 2020 WASSCE and 1.9 million applicants would write the 2020 UTME at approved CBT centres nationwide. The stakeholders acknowledged that WASSCE and UTME are important examinations for the candidates if they must actualise their dream of gaining admissions into tertiary institutions.
The May/June 2020 WASSCE involving over 40 subjects including practicals and will commence by March ending. Over 1.5million school candidates are expected to sit for the examination while 1.9million applicants for the 2020 UTME will start the matriculation exam from March 14.
President, Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO), Mr Dotun Sodunke, The Education Report said: ‘’The only way a student will gain admission is doing what others are not doing and one of such things is preparing very well for the WASSCE and UTME, keep away from activities that will distract their preparation, reduce the use of phones and keep away from drugs or unserious friends.
“The candidates must put in additional efforts by getting good materials, for the first time UTME candidates. They must learn how to use the computer and attend good tutorial classes. The truth is that the best people for this kind of exam are the tutorial people. It will be terrible if a student attends a wrong tutorial class.’’
Lauretta Onemu, a First Class graduate of Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, advised the candidates: ‘’They should focus on understanding rather than cramming the course content. Use key points, past questions, enroll in a class/lesson and also try to study in groups of serious-minded people, not those who may distract you.
“Ask questions and seek more information where necessary, don’t be afraid to make use of your teachers and more knowledgeable peers. In addition, exercise, sleep at least seven to eight hours daily and eat a balanced diet. Fruits like bananas help with memory and are useful during exam periods. Don’t forget to take breaks in between study periods as well.”
Onemu, who obtained 5.00 CGPA last year tasked the candidates to avoid spending excessive amounts of time on social media or the Internet and watching television as they can serve as intense distractions. She added that good time management is very essential and they should also try and give adequate attention to all the subjects to be written:
‘’A lot of additional effort is required before the exams. This is referred to as burning the candle at both ends, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. Although students feel the need to burn the candle at both ends the night before the exams.
“With my experience, it is better to revise all that you have studied instead of trying to cram new material and get enough sleep. If any student believes they are lagging behind on any subject, try and cover as much as you can a few weeks or even days before the exam and not the night before.
‘’In my opinion, they need to attend tutorial classes as a secondary school student depends on a few factors. Tutorial classes may be useful for students who are having a difficult time grasping some things or who need repetitive teaching to understand some concepts. It might also be necessary based on the quality of teaching being provided at the secondary school. Therefore, it might be useful for certain students but not for others.’’
Oyo State Coordinator, Concerned Parents Educators (CPE), Mrs. Olukemi Koleowo, reminded the candidates for the two public examinations that there is no short cut to success: “We heard a lot about special centres and students cutting corners, it doesn’t work. We have been trying to educate them to read hard and avoid distractions. Nothing in the world that short cut lasts longer.
‘’In education, there is no short cut to success. We have students that cram, they need to read and understand. The candidates should know that there is no short cut to passing WASSCE and UTME. The candidates still have some few days, they must create their timetable, stay away from football, Internet and social media.’’
Success Coursin, general manager, Concept Tutors, Surulere, Lagos, observed that excelling during the UTME is a game of survival of the fittest which makes candidates and their parents do all sorts of things just to be on the admission list. He advised the candidates to carefully choose a career path based on their area of strength in the four subjects to be taken in the UTME:
“Candidates should keep away from telenovela, social media, friends, games, phone music. They should search for friends of like mind because sometimes after reading alone, a student may feel he has “arrived” but when he brainstorms with friends he may come to a realisation that he still has a lot to cover. This is where a tutorial comes in.
“Tutorial and the school to me is a two-side of a coin that can never be separated reason being that every teacher has his style of teaching. From experience, you meet a child who tells you he is weak in a particular subject and when you probe further he tells you he doesn’t like the way his teacher is teaching him yet with time in a tutorial the student becomes a master in that subject.”
With over 30 years as an educationist, Dr (Mrs) Juliet Ajayi, the headmistress of University of Lagos Staff School, Akoka, Lagos, argued that preparation by serious students for WASSCE and UTME ought to have started from SS1: “Many students believe in their ability to read on their own and pass but I think otherwise.
“There is a need for candidates to enroll in a coaching centre that is ready to assist them to learn and not those that believe in exam malpractices. Candidates should be bold, remain focus, buy past questions and practice after their coaching lessons both in school and coaching centres. They should downplay the time spent on social media and playing games on their handsets. They should keep away from unserious companies or associations.
“If a student can devote six hours daily on serious studies, he or she will excel. Any friend that cannot add value to you, you should keep away from them. Avoid or postpone parties till after your exams and spend less time on social media except for educative purposes like searching for materials to enhance your studies. Spend your time during the day wisely and avoid reading all night because it will have a negative effect on you.
“Candidates should have a reading plan such as a personal time table and be consistent in reading as repetition aids memory. Students should leave no stone unturned by attending tutorial classes where they will be taught how they can answer questions and time management during exams. The students in the final class in secondary school should know that the final year examination is a very important one. Once they have this mindset, they will prepare in other to achieve the goal of having an excellent result.”
Mr. Gabriel Amakhabi, convener, Academic Excellence NG on Facebook, said: “Academic excellence is not stumbled upon. Success at UTME or WASSCE is never by accident but a conscious effort in planning to succeed. A student who stays focused on a healthy routine will do better than one who reads long hours or attends tutorials. Students should discover what reading hours and learning method works for them.
“Like in every aspect of life, examination success is no different. I believe students should form a healthy routine around what they want to achieve. It is beyond reading very long hours, it is beyond attending tutorials, all that matters is finding out what works for you, have a target and a healthy routine that boosts your drive to achieve that target.
“Both examination bodies will not set questions outside the given syllabus. If you have the syllabus, have a personal checklist, thick out what you know and don’t know and stay away from anything you do not need outside the syllabus. More so, stay away from distracting influences as it would be detrimental to your future.”
In her contribution, the Deputy Provost, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Dr. Deborah Dele Giwa said success does not hunt for brilliant students but hard-working students.
She advised the students to watch less of television programmes and play less with their phones, adding ‘’keep away time wasters, avoid guesses, do the ones you know, depending on your efforts because you prepared for the exams and not the teachers that teach exams.
The educationist said the candidates may attend school-based tutorial classes and stressed that evil associations corrupt good manners.
‘’Parents are in a hurry to support their wards to write WAEC from SS ll. Any skipped class will be paid for later in life. However we celebrate certificate rather than a testimonial, Education without morals is confusion.