Candidates’ weaknesses, are listed in this section of the Chief Examiners report every year, but there is no evidence that those concerned are taking steps to overcome them.
In the letter to a friend (Section A Question I) some candidates devoted the first paragraph to inquiring about the health of their friends: “How are you” “How is your studies” ” How is your mummy and daddy” “Hope everything is going well. – if so Glory be to God.” This inquiry is overdone. Within that paragraph, these candidates recorded many punctuation and grammar errors as can cost them all the ten marks allowed for mechanical accuracy. How can they do well?
After six years in secondary school, many candidates do not know the difference between a noun and an adjective, and cannot spell correctly such common terms in the language as “adverbial clause”, “phrase” and “metaphor” .
For many candidates, the words “no”, “know” and “now” mean the same thing and are used interchangeably.
Many candidates assign unimaginable meanings to words. These are unthinkable answers, as they have no relationship with the words set. A candidate cannot understand the content of a passage unless he understands the meanings of the words used. It is no wonder, therefore, that many of the candidates failed to answer correctly the simple content questions on the comprehension passages: they did not understand the passage.
Many of the candidates have not yet learnt how to answer questions on summary. They copied portions of the passage verbatim.
It is suggested that candidates should be taught by teachers who know the demands of the English Language examination as specified in the syllabus.
Candidates’ Weaknesses (ALL SECTIONS)
The weaknesses are the same as those listed in this section of this report every year. Some of them are:
(i) Ignorance of the proper use of punctuation marks.
(ii) Ignorance of the proper use of capital letters and small letters.
(iii) Ignorance of the difference between the present and the past tenses.
(iv) Inability to re-state the ideas of a passage in different words and expressions.
(v) Inability to identify parts of speech and how they function in sentences.
If candidates learn how to answer comprehension and summary questions and make a serious attempt to understand the passages and questions they will do well in the examination.
However, there can be no better remedy for the candidates’ weaknesses than a serious study of the rudiments of the English Language.
It would be self deceit for a candidate to think that he can do well in this examination without knowing the parts of speech and how they function in sentences.
Although the essay questions were clear and required the discussion of issues within the candidates’ experiences, most candidates failed to show understanding of the requirements of the questions they attempted.
Questions 2 and 5 were not popular questions and those who attempted them had scanty content which in some cases were irrelevant to the requirements of the questions.
Errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation also dominated candidates’ essays. Some of the candidates’ expressions were generally gibberish or inappropriate to the context. Sometimes, candidates merely translated their mother tongue into English Language.
Although the two comprehension passages offered familiar subject matters using the appropriate range of vocabulary for candidates at this level, many candidates performed poorly. This was basically because many of them lifted portions of the passage and gave them as answers.
Questions 6 (b), (e), 7(a), (e) and (g) were some of the questions that required implied answers but many candidates merely lifted mindlessly from the passage.
In the summary section, many candidates failed to give concise answers. The use of inappropriate preamble made so many candidates to lose marks.
Mindless lifting also dominated many answers.
The situation can however, be remedied if candidates take seriously the study of the rudiments of the English Language.
Teachers should help candidates by teaching them how to read, understand and interpret the requirements of questions set, whether they are essay, comprehension or summary.
It is self-deceit for any candidate to believe that he can do well in the subject without studying it consciously and consistently.