By Hassan Abdulbaqi


The papers are summarily divided into three parts: Multiple Choice questions, Essay and Test of Orals.

In Multiple Choice questions, popularly known as objective tests, you shall be given options to choose from. This usually contains eighty or more questions which are tested on your understanding of concepts like Lexis and Structure, knowledge of idiomatic expressions, question tags, Registers, Rules of Concord, synonymy (nearest in meaning), antonym (nearly opposite in meaning) and so on. The duration is usually an hour.

Essay is the theoretical aspect where you shall be asked to write an essay in the first section, answer questions on a comprehension passage in the second and answer questions on summary in the third.  In essays, you shall be given five to six questions to choose from. If you attempt more than one, the first shall be marked and the second will be discarded. Kindly read Four Tips for Scoring High in Your SSCE English Essays and THE BIG FOUR IN SSCE ENGLISH ESSAYS for more information about writing a good essay! On Comprehension, you shall be given a passage that will be followed up with some questions on your understanding of the passage, grammatical names and functions, figures of speech, idiomatic expressions and replacement of words with a synonym or another similar phrase, according to the context of such words in the question. Lastly on this section is Summary which also includes a passage but as opposed to Comprehension, questions shall be asked specifically to test your ability of representing many sentences in the passage with fewer sentences or words. The whole paper usually lasts for two hours.

Test of Orals tests your ability of transcription, stress patterns, rhyming etc. On the ability of transcription, vowels and consonants shall be underlined and you shall be asked to choose the sounds which represent them from the available options. the On stress patterns, you shall be asked to identify main/primary stress of a particular word, identify the differently stress patterned word in a set of words and on the emphatic stress, a word shall be given an emphatic stress and you shall be asked to choose the appropriate from four sentences (emphatic stress shall be breezed through after we release the trick in our next set of articles). It is Listening Comprehension Test for candidates in Gambia and Sierra Leone. The questions are usually sixty in all and the duration is 45minutes.

You will not be asked to write the definition, types, and examples, of any concept in English. No! No “define simple and complex sentences and two examples of each” like most incompetent teachers do in their internal tests and examinations. Kindly read HOW EFFECTIVE IS TESTING WITH PAST QUESTIONS? Rather, you shall only be required to bring your understanding of such concepts, their types and examples to the fore in every question of your examinations.

The full SSCE English syllabus coupled with comprehensive posts on several English topics that will enable you pass your exam with flying colours is coming soon.


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