THE LENGTH OF ENGLISH WAEC/NECO ESSAYS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
by Hassan Abdulbaqi
Must I write up to the required 450 words in my essay? Is it allowed to write more than the required words? How do I count the words in my essay?
How do you count your essay? Are you expected to count one, two, three……nooo! You just estimate the number of words you write on each line and then proceed to count each line. See for instance, the average number words in each line and the number of the lines you must write to reach the required length:
13 words per line – (35 lines)
12 words per line – (38 lines)
11 words per line – (41 lines)
10 words per line – (45 lines)
9 words per line – (50 lines)
8 words per line – (56 lines)
7 words per line – (64 lines)
6 words per line – (75 lines)
5 words per line – (90 lines)
4 words per line – (112 lines)
It is recommended that you write up to the required 450 words. If not, you shall score a low mark under mechanical accuracy because the instruction is that the maximum mark under it should be reduced whenever the length is lesser than 450 words. If you write 225 words for example, the Mechanical Accuracy shall be marked out of 5 instead of 10. This why you should strive to write up to the required length so that you don’t lose these marks. It is possible that you have finished writing everything you wish to write prior to counting the essay and find it to be lesser than expected. It would be difficult to cross everything out especially when you want to add more sentences to each paragraph. Your work becomes messed up and your time?! This situation can be avoided by planning before writing. Write your points and know the average words you can write on the first paragraph. Use this to make the estimate of the lines you should write on each line as explained above. Note that it is not allowed to write in your question paper nor is it allowed to take extra sheets of paper into the examination hall. Make sure you do this at the last page of your answer sheet and cross it out as a rough work.
There is no problem if you write more than the required length but this may affect your mark under Expression in case errors are found therein. Adversely, they can also boost your mark under Content and Organization but Expression takes the highest mark of 20. Writing more than the required may also exhaust your time for you still have sections like Comprehension and Summary to answer. Don’t forget that you have to write your answers carefully and also create time for reading everything you have written prior to submission. You should not also worry about writing above the maximum length if you have not finished writing some important parts of your essay. In the case of an informal letter, for example, if you have reached the required length before you finish writing the body of your letter, make sure you write your subscription and Yours sincerely and your name before submission for these parts are required.
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