HOW TO INTERPRET EXAMINERS’ INSTRUCTIONS THROUGH PAST QUESTION PAPERS (USING LITERATURE AS AN EXAMPLE)
1.No group of past questions in Literature should be looked at as being too far away to the exams you are about to take.
2.It does not matter which Shakespeare drama or what prose or which poems are being tested in your year.
3.It does not matter which historical period, characters or characterizations that are involved
4. The questions are often repeated around literary terms and concepts year-in,year-out.Murder or tragedy whether in Macbeth or in Hamlet are the same and can be interpreted in the same way for both.
5. Get as many past questions as you can for practice and note that they are often framed as follows under most Arts and Social Science subjects:
Present information, opinions or recommendations to someone to enable that recipient to take action
7.Amplify,bring out,clarify,describe,elaborate,give a detailed account,narrate:
Explain in detail,expand or enlarge upon the meaning of (a statement or quotation). Present the details and characteristics of a theme for instance.But in a subject like Economics you might be expected to first list and then explain.
8.Appraise,analyze,assess,comment,criticize,critique,discuss, evaluate,examine, review,what role:
Outline the positive and negative aspects of a topic or issue. You will likely be required to come to some conclusion or reasoned judgment based on the balance of what you have identified as good and bad say of a theory,or policy or opinion.
Organize the phenomenon or topic in some logical and justifiable way. Obviously you don’t just list or tabulate the material, but you also explain the basis of classification.
Means write about the ways in which two or more things are the same, or what they have in common (similarities)
Means write about the ways in which two or more things differ.Specify or bring out the differences between them. (Often used along with “compare”). Note that this questions might continue …. “What lessons were learned….?” Be sure to answer BOTH parts! But note how the second part re-enforces the first.
Explain the meaning of something. “Interpret” might also imply some evaluation, but usually not.
Show by reasoning out something to prove a point.
These generally mean much the same thing, namely give a complete and detailed account of a topic or present rhe details and characteristics of (See also”amplify” “illustrate, exemplify,show”)
Provide actual examples of the ideas you are writing about For example, you might be asked to explain an idea, but you should illustrate it also. E.g. “Illustrate the influence the witches had on Macbeth’s life.” This cannot just mean that you should “list” them, you should also cite actual examples of earlier and later incidents that support your answer.
State adequate grounds for your stand.These are often used as part of a larger question, but they also occur on their own. Their meaning is similar to “assess” (see above) in that a reasoned judgment on your part is being asked for. Unlike “assess” such questions are often one-sided, “Assess” is a bit different and usually a larger question (see “assess”).
17.List, enumerate, extract,how does,in what ways, name,outline:
Provide a complete list of features or items asked for. Most often the question will then go on to ask you something further about the list. E.g. “List three figures of speech and explain each of them with supporting examples from Macbeth.” BUT BE CAREFUL HERE: Sometimes (often) the second part is assumed by the examiner e.g. “Outline three examples of figures of speech from Macbeth” might imply also an explanation is expected.
18.Summarize,write short notes:
What this means exactly will depend upon the context. It might be the same as a brief outline, or a brief discussion. Generally the term warns you that you should be as concise as possible in your answer. So state briefly the essential points.Dispense with examples and details
Explain a sequence of steps or events.
20.Paragraphs 6 -19 above constitute a mixture of works extracted from the websites and notes of University of Wisconsin and of Mason College,Festac (severally)
21.Some examiners’ instructions which are not usually found in literature were excluded.These include:
Prove,Reconcile,Tabulate and Validate.
22.But most of these instructions are also useful for tackling other theory papers classified under Arts (Government,History,CRK…) or Social Sciences (Economics,Commerce,Geography…)
23.This list will be of no use to you if not used with more guidance by a literature teacher.It can also be used to interpret past WAEC/NECO/JAMB questions and thereafter have your answers marked through our premium services.
24. Conclusion:We opine that the 5 most important sources of Literature questions come from 7/14, 8,10,11 and 18.Get to understand those 5 and you will be able to understand the linkages with other examiners’ instructions!
- 2013 Gce/ssce Literature Candidates… Beware of the So-called “Current Waec Syllabuses” Circulating on the Net! (12) (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- 15 Keys for Literature Classes in Nigerian Sedondary Schools Contd. (11) (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- Moments to Treasure No.136 and a Short History of Pass Tutorial College,festac (edupedianigeria.wordpress.com)
- For Teachers or Parents and Exclusively From Us Only!…absolutely Free Past Waec, Neco and Gce Marking Schemes in These Subjects. (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- Waec/neco Literature in English…here Is One of the Best Introductions to Figures of Speech for Nigerian Secondary Schools (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)