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JAMB                          WAEC                         NECO


By 1974, there were seven federal universities in the country. Every one of these existing universities conducted its own concessional examination and admitted its students. However, this system of admission revealed serious limitations and quite often waste of resources in the process of administering the concessional examination, especially on the part of the candidates. The general untidiness in the uncoordinated system of admissions into universities and the attendant problems were sufficient cause for concern to the committee of vice chancellors. Although reputed to be a reputable examination body , its grading system was subject to serious controversy during the 2009 UME (University Matriculartion Exam), one of the JAMB'S most popular services, when the over all performance was one of the poorest on records. Further embarrassing the JAMB, it was later revealed that the machines which optically graded the papers had erroneous answers and the JAMB changed some students scores by as much as 15%.

These problems had assumed new dimensions when by 1976, the then federal military government, under the leadership of General Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, established six additional universities. Consequently, the government set up a national committee on university entrance under the chairmanship of Mr. M. S. Angulu


The West African Examinations Council was established in 1952 following the acceptance of the Jeffery Report by the then colonial Government(s) in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria, Sierra-Leone and the Gambia; who passed appropriate ordinances in their Legislative Assemblies in 1951. The ordinances charged the Council with the responsibility of determining the examinations required in the public interest in West Africa, and empowered it to conduct such examinations and award appropriate certificates. The Jeffery Report had strongly recommended the setting up of a West African Examinations Council in the then four British colonies of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra-Leone and The Gambia. Liberia later joined the Council in 1974.

WAEC conducts four categories of examinations:
1. International Examinations such as the WASSCE, SC/GCE 0/Level and the HSC/GCE A/Level;
2. National Examinations such as the Senior School Certificate, Technical, Business Studies, and Common Entrance Examinations;
3. Examinations conducted in collaboration with other examining bodies, such as City and Guilds of London Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts;
4. Examinations conducted on behalf of other examining bodies, such as University of London GCE examination for non-West Africans, Scholastic Aptitude Test and Graduate Record Examinations for Educational Testing Service, Princeton, USA and JAMB Examination in countries outside Nigeria.

WAEC functions through some Committees which include:

(1) The International Administrative and Finance Committee,
which oversees the Financial and Administrative matters of the Council as a whole. It acts on behalf of the Council in between main Council meetings:

(2) The Examinations Committee which deals with all matters relating to examinations;

(3) The Appointments Committee which handles the appointments, discipline and promotion of officers of Registrar cadre or, the international staff of the Council;

(4) The Tenders' Board which considers and awards all international tenders for the Council, and

(5) National Committee which is the highest policy-making body of the Council in each member country. It has its own National Sub-Committees such as the National Examinations Committee, National Appointments Committee, National Administrative and Finance Committee and National Tenders' Board.


NECO was set up in April 1999. Before this time, WAEC had been the only secondary school examining body in Nigeria. While some Nigerians saw its arrival as opportunity for choice of examination body for candidates to patronize, others doubted its capacity to conduct reliable examinations that could command widespread national and international respect and acceptability. Some others welcomed it for its potential, as a Federal Government parastatal, to offer subsidized registration to candidates; yet others queried even its legal status.

By its mandate NECO was to take over the responsibilities of the National Board for Educational Measurement (NBEM) which was created, in 1992, by the Ibrahim Babangida administration, although its enabling decree was promulgated in 1993. However, the conduct of the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) which had, hitherto, been the exclusive preserve of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) was made an additional responsibility of the new examination outfit. NECO was to take exclusive charge of the conduct of the SSCE for school based candidates while WAEC was to take charge of the same examination for private candidates.


Neco conducts five different examinations, namely:

1. Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE Internal)
2. Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE External)
3. Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE)
4. National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE)
5. Gifted Examination Into Federal Academy Suleja

This is the examination taken by candidates in their last stage of Secondary Education. The SSCE is in two categories. One is for candidates in the third and final year of their secondary education and it is called SSCE Internal. The Second is SSCE External and is for candidates not in the School system.

The SSCE internal has forty subjects. The minimum number of subjects a candidate can sit for is eight while the maximum is nine. All Senior Secondary schools in the Federation present Candidates for the SSCE because the results are used for

A. Admissions into Tertiary Institutions
B. Employment purposes
C. Qualification to stand for elective offices.

The grading System is as follows:
A1 - Excellent
B2 - Very Good
B3 - Good
C4 - Credit
C5 - Credit
C6 - Credit
D7 - Pass
D8 - Pass
F9 - Fail

NECO also conducts the Senior School Certificate Examination for External Candidates. The first of the Exam was held in November from 9th November to 3rd December,2002. The grading system and use of the certificates is same as for the Internal Examinations above.

To transit from the three years of junior secondary to the senior secondary, the JSCE is conducted for candidates in their third year of the Junior Secondary School. While each state of the federation and the FCT conducts the JSCE for its candidates, NECO conducts the JSCE for Federal Unity Colleges, Armed Forces Secondary Schools and other Federal establishments operating Secondary schools. Private Secondary schools also take part in the NECO JSCE provided they are permitted by their State Ministries of Education.

Twenty two subjects are administered at the JSCE level. A candidate is expected to sit for a minimum of ten subjects and a maximum of thirteen. A candidate is deemed to have passed the JSCE if he/she has passes in six subjects including English and Mathematics.

The grading system is as follows:
A - Distinction
C - Credit
P - Pass
F - Fail.

This examination is administered to pupils in their 6th year of primary schooling which is the final stage of primary education. The purpose of this examination is to select the best candidates from every state of the federation and the federal Capital territory (FCT) for admission into Federal Unity colleges. These Colleges are essentially, Secondary schools owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Their objective is to foster unity amongst the children of Nigeria.

Results of the first examination determines candidates that qualify for a second examination based on cut-off marks for each state. The results of the second examination qualifies candidates for admission based on merit, equal state quota and environment considerations.

The gifted children education programme is designed to identify exceptionally talented children at the primary school level, bring together in the same environment at the Secondary school level where they can express their talent without being slowed down by the less gifted. To achieve this objective, a special secondary school called Federal Government Academy was established in Suleja, Close to Abuja.

Selection into the Federal Government Academy is by a special examination administered to identified talented children in primary six inn all the states of the Federation and the FCT. Results of the examination is used to select candidates primarily by merit, and to a lesser extent, by equal state quota.


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