WAEC Vs NECO: Which One Is Better And Why?

The main difference between WAEC (West African Examination Council) and NECO ( National Examination Council) is that NECO only operates here in Nigeria while its counterpart WAEC is an international examination body that cuts across the five English-speaking countries in West Africa.

Key Take-Away:

  • WAEC has continuously recorded more registrations annually from candidates compared to NECO
  • The timetables for both examinations never clashes this is because the WASSCE papers start earlier than NECO. Typically NECO morning papers start by 10 am while WAEC papers being at 9 am
  • WAEC SSCE holds May/June and in October/November for WAEC GCE. While NECO SSCE hold in June/July and in November/December for its GCE exams
  • WAEC certificate is more recognised both within and outside the country compared to NECO certificate
  • O’level graduates who have obtained the WAEC certificate can make use of that to seek admission and scholarship to study abroad. This is because it is internationally recognised. But NECO certificate holders are limited to studying within the country
  • Time and experience has proven WAEC  as a better and more reliable examination body than NECO as regards their well-structured system of conducting these examinations, their even distribution of question papers and calculators and the timely release of examination results, with a record of 90 days
  • When it comes to affordability, NECO has the upper hand. Its registration fees have cheaper than WAEC

In Nigeria, candidates eligible to take the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) often get confused when choosing which examination to register for, WAEC or NECO.

WAEC and NECO are two out of the three bodies responsible for organising senior secondary school examinations in the country and there has been the constant debate of which one is better- WAEC or NECO?

If you’ve been asking similar questions, like which certificate is better or if you can combine both certificates then read this till the end.

We’ll be uncovering all the details about WAEC and NECO examinations,  to help you decide on which one is best for you.

What is WAEC: An Overview

The term WAEC is an acronym that stands for West African Examination Council which was established in 1952. This body has the responsibility of organizing and conducting the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) O’level exams. This exam is conducted twice a year, May/June and November/December, and is open to students who are in their third year of senior secondary school or those who have previously sat for the examinations. One major distinguishing feature of WAEC examinations is that it is international exam.  The countries that are allowed to participate in this examination are the five English speaking countries in West Africa-

Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia, and Nigeria.

The examinations conducted by the council can be categorized into four

1  International Examinations

This refers to the  WASSCE which is carried out in each of the five West African countries mentioned above. All the WAEC exam rules and regulations are administered equally and without compromise in each country to maintain its reputable international standards.

2  National Examinations

The national examinations conducted by the council in the different countries including

  • Basic Education Certificate Examination for Ghana
  • Senior School Certificate Examinations for Ghana
  • Senior and Junior High School Certificate Examinations for Liberia
  • Basic Education and Primary School Certificate Examinations for Sierra Leone
  • Junior Secondary School Certificate for the Gambia and Nigeria

3  Examinations Conducted In Partnership With Other Examining Bodies

WAEC also conducts examinations in collaboration with two other examining bodies. The Royal Society of Art and the City and Guilds of London Institute.

4  Examinations Conducted In The Interests Of Other Examining Bodies

There are several other examinations carried out by the council on behalf of other examining bodies. Such as:

  • Educational Testing Service, Scholastic Aptitude Test for Princeton, USA
  • University of London GCE
  • Graduate Record Examinations for the USA
  • JAMB examinations in other countries

To sit for the WAEC examination, you must register and write at least 6 core subjects which include Mathematics, English language, one Nigerian language (Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa) one science subject (Biology, Physics or Chemistry), one art subject (Literature in English, History or Commerce) and one vocational subject (Home economics or Agricultural science)

Once you have selected your 6 core subjects, you are then required to choose extra 2 or 3 electives from the list of subjects below

  • Economics
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Home Management
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Further Maths
  • Shorthand
  • Typewriting
  • Geography
  • Commerce
  • History
  • Woodwork
  • Agricultural science
  • Health science
  • Building and construction
  • Auto-Mechanics
  • Clothing and Textile
  • Music
  • French
  • Art
  • Christian Knowledge
  • Government
  • Islamic studies
  • Arabic studies
  • Physical education
  • Metalwork
  • Electronics
  • Applied electricity
  • Technical drawing

After the WAEC examinations have come to an end, results will typically be released within 90 days from the last paper. However, the council has made efforts to shorten the waiting time to a maximum of 45 days. After results have been released, candidates can go ahead to purchase a scratch card and then log onto the council portal to check their results.

To check your results online simply follow these steps

Step 1: Buy WAEC Scratch Card. You’ll be needing the numbers on it to access your result. You can buy it from any of the WAEC branch offices close to you. It is sold for N1,500

Step 2: Log in to Https://www.WAECdirect.org

Step 3:  Enter your Examination Number

Step 4: Enter the Examination year

Step 5:  Select the Examination type

Step 6:  Enter the voucher number on your e-PIN

Step 7:  Enter the Personal Identification Number on your e-PIN

Step 8:  Click on Submit and wait for your results to be displayed

You can also check your WAEC results online via SMS. Just send a text in this format WAEC*ExamNo*PIN*ExamYear to this number 32327. Anybody with an MTN, Airtel or Glo SIM can make use of this. But take note that each SMS will cost N30.

The original  WAEC certificate will be out within 90 after the results have been released. Certificates for Candidates who sat for the examination in their various schools will be sent to the school authorities 6 months after the release of results. Those persons can simply go back to the school to collect their original certificate. It is usually free, but depending on how long the certificate has been with the school, they have the right to charge you whatever amount they deem fit.

For private candidates i.e those who registered for GCE and sat for the examination in other ‘External Centres’. They can go to any WAEC office only in the state where they wrote the exam with a copy of each of these items: affidavit, passport photograph, online result print out, WAEC photo card and identity card,  to collect their original certificate or they can request Https://certrequest.WAEC.ng to have their certificate delivered to their home address or any WAEC office close to them with an application fee of N4,700.

NECO: An Overview

The National Examinations Council (NECO) was established in 1999 by the Abdusalami Abubakar administration and was charged with the responsibility of conducting the following examinations in Nigeria.

  • The Primary 6 Common Entrance Examinations
  • The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for Vocational and Junior Schools
  • And the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE)

NECO results are usually released within two months after the last paper. Candidates can check their results online by following these simple steps

Step 1. Get your NECO scratch card in Token form for N1,000

Step 2. Log into www.result.NECO.gov.ng

Step 3. Select your examination year

Step 4. Select the examination type

Step 5.  Enter your Token Number

Step 6  Enter your registration number

Step 7. Click on ‘Check Result’. Your result will be displayed, you now print or download a copy.

To collect the original NECO certificate, school candidates should go back to their various examination centres to collect theirs. While external candidates who sat for NECO GCE are to log into Https://payments.NECO.gov.ng/. They are to make a payment of N1,100 via the above platform and then proceed with the receipt of the payment to any WAEC office in the state where they sat for the exam to collect their certificate. They must also carry these items to the office.

✓ Affidavit

✓ NECO online result print out

✓ NECO Photocard

✓ Identity card

✓ One Passport photograph

NECO examinations share a lot of things in common with WAEC examinations. The first case is that they both cater to the needs of secondary school students in the country. Both exam bodies have the responsibility of conducting the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), General Certificate Examinations (GCE) and Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE).

Both WAEC and NECO O’level certificates last for a lifetime. Once you have successfully obtained a minimum of 5 credits in Mathematics and English language plus any other core subjects, from either of these exam bodies, you are free to use it forever. It does not come with an expiration date and also cannot be replaced. It is only issued once, so you have to take good care of it.

Another thing they have in common is that their examination syllabus contains the same topics. So you don’t need to worry about studying separately for WAEC or NECO. Although NECO timetables are slightly different from WAEC’s and they are both held a few weeks apart, candidates can register and sit for both exams in the same year.

NECO also shares the same grading pattern as WAEC. It scores students’ performance as 0-49 (Fail), 50-59 (Pass), 60-79 (Credit) and 80-100 (Excellent). Then goes further to distinguish the grades as shown below.

Grade        Description

A1.              Excellent

B2.              Very Good

B3.              Good

C4.              Credit

C5.              Credit

C6.              Credit

D7.               Pass

E8.               Pass

F9.               Fail

Lastly, results from both NECO and WAEC can be combined by admission seekers for failing to meet the minimum 5 credit requirement in one sitting. Most Nigerian universities will accept different combinations of results (e.g WAEC/WAEC, NECO/NECO, WAEC/NECO) and their GCE counterpart regardless of the difference between the years you sat for each exam. But you must, first of all, do thorough research on the university and your intended course of study, to be sure that they accept results from two sittings. For instance

  • DELSU, UNIBEN, UNIOSUN, UNILORIN, UNIBADAN, IMSU, EBSU, ABSU, ANSU, UNILAG, BOWEN AND UNN only accepts one sitting from candidates who wish to study Medicine and Surgery
  • The University of Ibadan accepts only one sitting from students who want to study Pharmacy
  • Some schools require 6 credits instead of 5 for students who want to combine results. E.g the University of Ibadan accepts 5 credits in one sitting and 6 credits in two sittings for those who want to study law.

WAEC Vs NECO: Which is Better?

Now that we have looked at details surrounding the WAEC and NECO examinations, I’m sure you have been rightly informed.

Both exam bodies as we have seen perform similar duties from their shared syllabus to the same grading pattern,

Both NECO and WAEC have catered to the needs of millions of secondary school students in the country.

However, when it comes down to which is better, you’d agree with me that WAEC exams and certificates offer greater value and benefit compared to NECO.

As we mentioned earlier, the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations is an international examination, therefore it is internationally recognised.

Not just in the five west African countries that participate in its exercises but in other first world countries like the UK, USA and Canada.

 Every year students leave the shores of Nigeria either on the grounds of paid tuition, semi or fully funded scholarships.

These students, some of which are O’level graduates, will find it easy to gain admission abroad because of the WAEC certificates they hold.

As authentic and valid as a NECO result is here in Nigeria, sadly it serves no use outside the country.

Then there’s also the added advantage standard. WAEC examination standards have always and will be top-notch.

There is less bias in their operations seeing that many countries are involved in the setting of questions, marking or scripts and distribution of materials.

There are more efficient operations because each country has to contribute its fair quota. Unlike NECO which is home-based and prone to the negligence of duty from officials.

Finally, my advice to you would be to have both the NECO and WAEC certificates, you can always make use of both of them.

Further Reading

1: How to Pass WAEC in One Sitting

2: How to Pass NECO without Cheating

3: How to Pass Post UME Examination