How to Answer WAEC, NECO, GCE, JAMB Questions

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I am happy you want to learn how to answer Examination questions instead of relying on exam expo. There are different ways to set a question. While group A may tell you to define and list, group B may tell you to e.g ‘ Explain the concept of Classification blah blah. Group A is simple and wants a straight answer but group B wants your opinion and comprehensive explanation. They all ask questions within the scope of a subject and presumably, what you have been thought.

All examination questions have similar presentations which include:

    1. Define
    2. Describe
    3. Explain
    4. Elucidate
    5. Expatiate
    6. List
    7. Identify
    8. Mention
    9. Discuss
    10. Differentiate between.
    11. With the aid of a diagram
    12. Objectives


What does it to mean ‘Define’ in a Question?

This is the most common way of presenting a question. The Examiner or tester is simply asking you give a definition to question. This type of answers are universal, and 200 students can give the same answer. When asked to define Economics, Robbin’s definition comes to mind. It is advisable to write a definition the Examiner is familiar with and then add other definition with reference. Explaining a definition when you’re expected to define will neither increase or decrease your scores


What does it to mean ‘Explain’ in a Question?

To explain a question means to define inclusively with your thought or opinion. It means to define and interpret or to make clear. When posed with a question that requires an explanation, a simple definition is never enough. The questioner wants you to write all you know about the question, and citing other references will be an added advantage because you’re simply telling the questioner that you have done your home well.


What does it to mean ‘Elucidate’ in a Question?

Elucidating is another form of explanation, but if you observe the question well enough, the questioner only require you to make clearer his/her questions through the use of supportive answers. The questions are not presented to be understood easily, so the first step in answering such questions is to understand the question itself and what answer is required.


What does it to mean ‘Expatiate’ in a Question?

Expatiating a question simply means give an answer to a question with your knowledge. The examiner wants to know if you understand the subject being questioned. You can’t answer such by writing a known definition. It may result in total failure or less mark.


When asked to List in examination question:

To list simply means to itemize or enumerate. You don’t need to explain what you’re listing. When asked to list 5 things, list them as required. Don’t make the mistake of writing what is not needful. If the marking is scheme is 5 and you wrote heaven and earth instead of listing, you will get the default mark.

When asked to Mention:

To mention means to make list and give a short note. This is where many students fail. They think listing and mentioning are the same, well they are not and now you know. While some examiner will ask you to list and explain, others will tell you to mention.  You either list first and give the explanation later or give the explanation as you make the list.

When asked to Discuss:

I believe you know what it means to discuss. You can define, mention, share your thoughts, make an argument, cite and above all make your point known and don’t go outside the scope.


What does it to mean ‘Differentiate between or Compare and Contrast’ in a Question?

When you have such question, it is fairly easy to understand. What makes A differ from B vice versa. Make a list of these differences with a short note. A has no leg but there is a leg in B. That’s a wrong way to answer such question. To compare means to examine similarity or differences which are noticeable. To contrast means to draw out differences (A significant change) from that which was compared.


Here is a good example

A and B are Alphabet Letters. But A is the 1st letter of the Roman alphabet and the first letter of the vowel sound while B is the 2nd letter of the Roman alphabet, although not among the vowels, it is the first among the consonant sound.


Answering Objectives:

Answering objectives simply mean reading a question and choosing the correct answer from a given option. One sad thing about answering objectives is that if you have no knowledge of the question you’re likely to fail. As simple as this may sound, objective questions are very difficult to answer mostly when answers in the option look alike. To answer objective questions, you need an objective mind.

See also:

Updated: May 24, 2018 — 11:51 pm

The Author


Fatherprada is the Founder and Chief Editor of StudentGuide. He is a teacher who loves to help students especially in decision making. A lover Poetry but hate Mathematics so much that it deterred him from learning programming. He hails from Ezionum.

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