WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB, Which is Tougher/Easier? - School Contents

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WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB, Which is Tougher/Easier?

Just like my answer to which is more difficult between school students' examination and private students' examination, there is the need to answer another question - which is easiest or most difficult to pass between WAEC and NECO?

In the same vein, candidates are asking if NABTEB will be easier to pass than NECO and WAEC. 

In summary, this post will be looking into which exam is most, or more difficult to pass than the others among the NECO, WAEC, and NABTEB.

Exams Generally Are Meant to Be Difficult to Pass

When you hear a student asking this question, you start to wonder if some students really understand why we do exams in the first place.

If exam bodies wanted you to pass easily, there wouldn't have been any exam to start with. Hence, every student should accept the fact that exams are generally set to test you and you should expect difficulties whether you opt for WAEC, NECO, or NABTEB.

This doesn't mean that WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB are equally difficult to pass. Experiences have shown otherwise. And that will be covered in the other parts of this post.

Recommended: Is JAMB Harder/Tougher Than WAEC, NECO, or NABTEB?

Syllabus and Past Questions Should Ease Exams for You

Once you're aware of the areas an exam body will test you, you shouldn't be taken by surprise any longer. This is where the exam syllabus comes in. 

With the syllabus available to you, both online and offline, for WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB, passing these exams should be easy even if we eventually refer to one as - being more difficult than the other.

And with the availability of WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB Questions and Answers packs (popularly known as Exams series), students should find every exam, nowadays, easy.


I can tell you that these exam bodies don't have questions outside what they'd already set in the past. These past questions are already compiled in the referred series which you can buy at affordable prices at the next bookshops and markets around.

If you should treat and study the packs well, you shouldn't have anything to fear, no matter how difficult one exam is compared to the other.

Recommended: How to Study JAMB, WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB Questions Series To Score/Grades

WAEC is Easier to Pass Than NECO with Experiences

Before any person will answer this question, he must have written the three exams and compared them. Or at least, treated their past questions to see if there is any difference.

It has occurred in the past that WAEC could be, though, more tricky in the ways of setting their questions. In other words, their questions may not be as straightforward as NECO and NABTEB.

However, because a majority of teachers taking students equally passed through the same test system (they mostly wrote WAEC during their days in schools), they'd been well equipped in passing the same knowledge to their students.

A teacher, like me, can easily relate his experiences with the present WAEC settings and still be relevant to help his students perform better.

Going by the performance of students in WAEC compared to NECO, most students would agree with their results compared to what they got in NECO. Students were usually disappointed with their results in NECO.

Recommended: Can I Use My Old O'level Results for Admission?

NABTEB is Usually Easier to Pass than WAEC and NECO

Although the questions and syllabus are usually almost the same, past questions from NABTEB have shown that their questions could be more friendly than both NECO and WAEC.

And considering the yearly performance, students smile at their NABTEB results more often than others, especially NECO.

Even when NABTEB questions were set too tough, it seemed the marking scheme was made to be compensating. Hence, making things favorable in the end for students.

NECO Can Make You Get Confused After Seeing Your Results

In most cases, if you deserved F9 in a subject in WAEC or NABTEB and you're given one, you're likely to agree with that, right away, that you saw that coming.

Whereas, in most cases, students expecting C4 in NECO may be greeted with F9. Then, you start to be wondering what has gone wrong.

In the earlier years of NECO, the exam body could pass you even if you're expecting failure. But lately, it seemed the marking scheme had got so stingy to the extent that if Professor Wole Soyinka writes their English, he may be given F9. That's a joke dude!

In all, to date, it's safer to say NABTEB is easier to pass than WAEC and NECO while WAEC is easier to pass than NECO.

Results of a Research Shows that NECO is More Difficult to Pass

In a 2013 Comparative Analysis of the Item Difficulty Levels of WAEC, NECO, and NABTEB Mathematics Achievement Examinations by professor Prof. S.O. Bandele and Dr. A.E. Adewale, the authors concluded as follows:

  1. Based on the result of the findings, it was found that the three Examinations are comparable and that NECO Examinations are more difficult than that of WAEC and NABTEB, and that might have been one of the reasons for the recent mass failure in NECO Examinations.
  2. The comparative analysis of the mean item difficulty levels, therefore, clarifies the level of difficulty of the Examination conducted by the examination bodies. Hence, NECO produces the most difficult item tests, followed by NABTEB, while WAEC took the last position.
  3. More importantly, since the differences in the difficulty levels are not significant as shown in hypothesis four, they are considered to be equivalent.
  4. It is therefore recommended that none of these examination bodies should be seen as being inferior to the other, while (WAEC, NECO & NABTEB) should improve more on the item analysis of their test items.

Going by this research, I might be wrong when I said WAEC is more difficult than NABTEB (item 2 above) but my own position that NECO is, overall, the most difficult is still correct. Mind you, I wrote strictly based on my personal experiences except for the case study quoted.

Also, note that the study was centered on Mathematics only. In my own narration, I factored in my personal experiences with other subjects.

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