GCE Harder than WAEC? Differences To Expect - School Contents

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GCE Harder than WAEC? Differences To Expect

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A student visited me to register for WAEC GCE. He left with a question on my table – “Is it true that GCE is more difficult to pass than internal WAEC?”

What do you think when you’re asked this kind of question?

Of course, the guy had written WAEC April/May (formerly May/June) and made a few papers. He wanted to make up for his deficiencies in English, Chemistry, and Physics. That’s why he must obtain the WAEC Jan/Feb series.

I'll be willing to answer this question. Yet, we need to make some facts known before we can jump to the conclusion. Let's go...


By nature, candidates should commit to minds that, these exams are almost the same. They take the same approaches from the period of exams to the nature of questions and how exams are conducted.
  1. The time of NECO, NBAIS and NABTEB GCE remains November/December (or sometimes earlier) each year. While WAEC GCE has been divided into two – one holding Jan/Feb and the other Aug/Sept. They are called first and second series respectively.
  2. Questions are set with the alternative to practicals instead of real practicals that April/May exams use.
  3. All GCEs are conducted at designated centres (secondary schools) at selected towns instead of the general secondary schools in towns across the nation – which April/May exams use.

With the above comparisons, you should get the similarities and differences among these GCE exams.

Are WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and NBAIS GCE more difficult to pass than April/May, May/June, June/July Type?

Having said May/June (called internal exam) is conducted at individual secondary schools and the GCE types are done at chosen exams centre across the nation, then, which one is easier to pass?

This question is a bit difficult to answer. Hence, I won’t go too blunt and direct about it. You will check the points of view below, to start with. Then, we can decide which one may be more friendly than the other.

1. The Primary Purpose

The very reason exams bodies start GCE is to encourage candidates who had left secondary schools but didn’t make their results in internal exams to resit for those papers. Hence, they hope with these external exams, they can rewrite and pass their papers or make up for the deficiencies they had in the internal ones.

2. The Nature of the Exams

Internal exams are conducted for SS 3 students who had started in the same school from JSS 1 to SS3. With this, the curriculum and syllabus of the exams bodies must have been covered by the schools before registering their candidates for the internal exams.

GCE doesn’t care whether you’d completed secondary school or you’re still in SS1. What matters is - do you have what it takes to pass the exams? Also, people of any age, government offices or professions are allowed to write GCE if they want.

I recently registered a 52-year old man who had been a court clerk all his years (for WAEC GCE). Now, he wanted to study Law at a university. Hence, he needed to make Government and Literature because of his time, he was a commercial student with such subjects not included for him.

3. Practicals and Alternatives to Practicals

Internal candidates do real practicals in their exams. Exams bodies usually send specimens to the schools for them to have the ideas of the areas where questions will be set for candidates.

For GCE, candidates are not provided with any specimens to prepare. Instead, candidates should be aware that they will be tested with the alternatives to practicals. The alternatives to practicals test candidates practically but not as physically involved. They can be asked to identify and fill parts of drawn objects, machines, animals, etc instead of taking part in a practical science session.

4. The Nature of GCE Syllabus

I've gone through WAEC GCE syllabus, for instance. Comparing that with WAEC April/May, there was little or no difference between topics to be covered in both exams.

Subjects are the same, topics are the same. The only difference as earlier established is the practicals.

Which of Internal and GCE will be Easier?

The answer depends on you. What have you deduced from all the explanations above?

I’ve personally attempted the two exams years back. Things are not much different from what we’re used to.

WAEC internal can be easier because you’re have been well prepared for the papers most recently (SS1 to 3). People usually write GCE while they'd abandoned books for months - if not years. This may make it more difficult to pass.

There are other reasons WAEC internal could be more convenient as detailed in this post.

Another thing that makes internal exams more convenient is environmental psychology. You’re used to the invigilators (who usually are your teachers), your exams hall, and other students.

With GCE, you’re more likely going to write in a different school or town. You will meet new teachers and supervisors. Even other students may come from far places and you might have not met them before.

This definitely may have effects on candidates' performance.

But in reality, if well prepared, you need the same amount of effort and reading to pass both internal exams and the GCE types.

Best Related Posts

  1. 20 Answers to Students' Questions on WAEC and It Uses For Admissions
  2. See Date WAEC May/June Registration Will Start for This Year
  3. SSCE Results: 5 Credits Needed, Possible Combinations and Where D7, E8 or F9 Accepted
  4. NECO: Check, Register, Time-Table, Combination, Foreign Acceptance, etc
  5. Can I Write WAEC, NECO or GCE in SS 1 or SS 2? See Answer


  1. Is it possible to work on pass question as ss1 student to pass gce and what re the subject compulsory to write as a commercial student

    1. Yes it's possible. For the compulsory SSCE subjects, visit the link below:


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