NECO Exam: 5 Important Things To Know About The National Examinations Council

The NECO exam has a relatively long and important history. Firstly, the Nigerian education system comprises six years of basic education, three years of junior secondary education, three years of senior secondary education, and four to six years of tertiary/higher education.

In higher education, Mathematics may not be necessary for all courses, but it is compulsory for some such as Medicine, Engineering, Architecture and Accounting. The English language is compulsory for all disciplines.

1. About NECO Exam

During the Abdulsalami Abubakar administration, the National Examinations Council (NECO) was created by a Decree issued in April 1999. It was only the culmination of a process that had begun before the administration was in place.

It was born in a time of controversy, even though calls for establishing a national examination body had been underway for over two decades. Its qualification is recognised internationally. Providing gainful employment to over a thousand Nigerians has been one of its greatest achievements.

2. Mandate

The National Examinations Council envisions conducting and administering standard and credible examinations to offer Nigerian students a chance to continue their education without hindrance. Its mission is to ensure that the exams conducted by the organization are in accordance with the provisions, expectations, and yearnings of the National Policy on Education and the National Curriculum.

3. Which exams do the National Examinations Council (NECO) administer?

The National Examinations Council conducts the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), and the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE).

3.1 Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE)

During the final stage of secondary school, it is the examination candidates can take. There are two types of SSCE. One is for students in the third and final year of their senior secondary education and it is called SSCE Internal.

The second type is SSCE External and it is for candidates not enrolled within the school system, i.e. private candidates from other schools.

SSCE Internal Examination

Seventy-six subjects are offered in the SSCE Internal Examination. They are grouped into six categories. 
a. Compulsory Cross-Cutting Subjects 
b. Science and Mathematics 
c. Business Studies
d. Technology 
e. Humanities 
f. Trade/Entrepreneurship. 

A candidate may take up to nine subjects, with eight being the minimum. Senior secondary schools in Nigeria conduct the SSCE Internal Examination.

SSCE External Examination

The conduct of the Senior School Certificate Examination for external candidates is another core component of the Council’s mandate as expressed in the Enabling Law, i.e., the National Examinations Council (Establishment) Act. An SSCE External application can be made here.

3.2 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE)

Candidates in their third year of junior secondary school who wish to transition from the ninth year of basic education to senior secondary are required to take the BECE. Each state and the FCT conduct BECE for the candidates of their states.

In contrast, NECO conducts BECE for the candidates of Federal Unity Colleges, Armed Forces Secondary Schools, and all other Federal establishments operating secondary schools in Nigeria.

BECE is also offered at private secondary schools, provided that their state Ministry of Education have approved them. BECE includes 18 subjects. At least nine subjects are required of a candidate to sit, and up to ten are allowed. If a candidate passes six subjects, including English and Mathematics, he/she is deemed to have passed the BECE. 

There are four levels of grading: A – Distinction C – Credit P – Pass F – Fail.

3.3 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE)

Students who are in their sixth year of basic education take this examination. This examination aims to select the best candidates for admission into federal unity colleges from each state and the federal capital territory.

They are Federal Government-owned secondary schools. They aim to foster unity among Nigeria’s students. NCEE exams are held annually.

Candidates who qualify for a second examination based on their first examination results are chosen based on cut-off scores for each state. According to the second examination results, candidates are qualified for admission based on merit, state quotas, and the educational environment.

4. NECO exam has a marking style

How is the NECO exam marked?

The usual marking style or system used by NECO examiners is called COEM which translates to > C = Content, O= Organisation, E = Expression, M=Mechanical Accuracy.

Unlike the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) marking and grading system, NECO is generally seen to be more strict regarding assessing, scoring, and grading senior secondary students. Hence, people often state that the examination is a more rigorous exam compared to the WAEC exam. 

5. NECO exam and qualification is recognised abroad

Is NECO result accepted abroad?

If you intend to study overseas, many universities abroad will accept your senior school NECO exam result, provided that you have attained at least a C6 in the subjects relative to your intended course of study. Click here to find out which universities in the UK, USA and Canada accept NECO results.

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