8 Common Reasons Students Fail The WASSCE (WAEC Exam) And What To Do About It

6 minutes read

The WASSCE is one exam that some students take and pass effortlessly, but sadly, some students also fail. In fact, more students fail the WAEC exam every year than those that pass it. Is there a common reason some students fail the WAEC exam? There is, and it might not solely be because they could not read their books.

Some students have failed WAEC in the past because of an improper understanding of the exam. They believed it was like their regular school exam where they focused on some areas and luckily saw the questions during the examination.

If you are planning to seat for the WAEC exams, you need to bare it at the back of your mind that reading might not be enough. There are other reasons you’d fail WAEC which are more complex than reading. You need to do everything to avoid these for you to come out with straight A’s in your exam.

So, here are common reasons students fail the WASSCE and what to do about them:

Improper Understanding Of The WASSCE

The WAEC examination is entirely different from secondary school exams. If you plan to ace your exams, you must prepare to cover your WAEC syllabus before the exam day because questions can come from anywhere. When you take into consideration how vast the syllabus is, you’ll understand the need to prepare earlier with your curriculum, texts, and past questions.

Having Faith In Examination Malpractice And Special Centres

Some schools are popular in examination malpractice, and some students in those schools realise it and don’t feel the need to read. They might see no need to stress themselves studying when their teachers will provide them the answers. If you are one of such students, be careful. Remember that not everything goes as planned.

There is a high possibility that WAEC will send exam officials with high integrity who will not tolerate such behaviours from teachers and will either stop them or mark your school for exam malpractice. If they do the former, you will get stranded if you’re not appropriately prepared for the exam and this will lead to failure. The latter would lead to seizing of your school’s result which means no WAEC result for you which is equal to failure unless your school sorts it out. There is also the possibility of the teachers not coming to the side of your hall, leaving you to your faith.

Likewise, it’s likely you’d fail WAEC if you’ve registered in some special centres where they call out answers to exam questions, or someone writes for you. Sometimes, the answers might be wrong while other cases, WAEC cancels the results from that centre. Also, the exam official might detect the person writing the exam is an imposter resulting in the cancelling of your papers and then probably a prison sentence.

Also, there are cases of students seeing the WAEC questions before the examination day. Remember, if you bank on those questions and neglect studying other topics, you might be in for a big surprise. There have been so many times in the past that WAEC got wind of the leaked questions on a particular subject and changed it a day to the exam which resulted in mass failure in some schools. If you’ve seen the leaked questions, fine, see it as a past question and keep studying other areas in your WAEC syllabus.


Procrastination might seem like a fun thing to do until you realise how much damage it costs. If you are in the habit of procrastinating your reading hours, you might end up not fully prepared for the exam. Time is short and sneaks up on us when we least expect. You might feel your exam is three months away, so you have the time to play video games or gist with friends, that’s a recipe for failure.

Here is a sarcastic thought-provoking quote by Bill Watterson, “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” That’s what procrastinating does; it keeps you from reading until the last minute when panic sets in making it difficult to understand what you are reading. It is a situation you must avoid if you aspire to pass your exam with flying colours. “You may delay, but time will not.”

No Extra Study Materials

It is not unusual to see students without the recommended text for studying. It’s like the proverbial farmer going to farm without his tools. You can’t possibly depend on only the notes your teacher gives. It is essential to purchase the texts recommended by WAEC for extensive reading and understanding of the subject. You’ll discover the suggested books to use in the syllabus which will contribute to your success in the exams.

The same thing goes for not have had the WAEC past questions. Most schools make it mandatory for their students to purchase previous questions for them to solve with their teacher during lesson hours, but not all schools take this serious. Past questions help you get more prepared by giving you an idea of the exam structure.


Most students are fond of cramming; if you are one of such students find a better strategy because this one has led to many failures. One thing about cramming is once you forget a line or word, you’ve forgotten everything which will leave you stranded and frustrated in the exam hall. Rather than cram, take out your time and study for the exam. WAEC is an exam that requires you to cover lots of topics, and it’s impossible to cram such broad topics.

Some students might limit the cramming to past questions hoping they will repeat the questions. Yes, WAEC repeats questions but you never can tell from what year the repeat questions will come and it’s impossible to cram all the past questions from WAEC’s inception in 1952.

Not Improving On Weak Subjects

For some art students, it might be math while science students find English difficult. Studying these subjects might seem like a futile effort because they don’t seem to understand any of it. One weak subject can make your result less attractive; that dreaded F9 or E8 no one wants to see. How do you prevent it from happening? Always ask for help from teachers, students, friends, parents, siblings, or better still enrol in a tutorial center where they teach the subjects well. Before registering, make sure you get a good review of the center.

It is possible to improve on your weak subject before exams if you dedicate your time and effort to achieving it.

Fearing Failure

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat”- Napoleon Bonaparte. Sometimes fear comes even when there is no need, and when you allow that fear creeping into your heart, it messes up everything. One reason you’d fail WAEC is because of fear. You might study hard, but as long as the fear of failing the exam is in your mind, there is a possibility you will.

Fear brings down your high self-esteem and confidence, makes you feel you are not enough and can’t achieve great things. What do you do about this fear? Identify what is making you scared and deal with it squarely.

Are you afraid because your school is notorious for getting bad WAEC result? Are you scared because the past questions you’ve been seeing are technical? Are you scared because there is a delicate subject you can’t seem to improve? Are you scared because you’ve failed WAEC previously? Or is it because there was a mass failure to the previous year?

When you identify the source of your fear, you can move on to deal with them. Fear can paralyse and will stop you from preparing well for your exams. It’s better to deal with it earlier so you can concentrate on acing your exam.

Too Many Activities

Keeping yourself occupied with too many activities is one reason you’d fail WAEC. Sports activities, working, visiting friends, helping your mum out in her business, and any other events may need to wait until after the exams to prevent you from failing.

It might be difficult to stop these activities especially if they help add to your pocket money, but this might be your first lesson in life about setting priorities. What are your needs and want? Do you need to get a WAEC certificate that will help you further your education or do you need to make money or become a successful athlete at the moment? One must be more important than the other, and if you are reading this article, we are guessing your WAEC certificate is more important.

If we are right, it means you have to let go of every extracurricular activity or learn how to manage your time to ensure you have enough left to read and cover your syllabus.

Relying Only On Past Papers

Practising WASSCE past questions is an essential tool set in preparing for the WASSCE. However, you shouldn’t think solving every past paper for the last 5 years is enough to prepare you for the WASSCE without reading your textbooks and covering the WAEC syllabus.

Not Developing A Healthy Prep Strategy Prior To The Exam

Developing the right strategy prior to the exam keeps you motivated, confident and makes it easier to take the necessary steps to prepare for the WASSCE.

Not having the right strategy prior to the exam would make you like a football team without a game plan which might make you unorganised and increase your chances of failing.

We have published the best guide on how to pass the WASSCE on LarnEdu.com. It’s a content of over 7000 words of proven strategies to prepare for the WAEC exam. I highly recommend you to read it and apply the principles stated in the guide.


You have no reason to fail your WAEC exams as long as you prepare consciously and deliberately. If you’ve already written the WASSCE and failed, I suggest you read about what to do if you failed the WASSCE. Remember, “The will to win is not nearly as the will to prepare to win. Everyone wants to win, but not everyone wants to prepare to win. Preparing to win is where the determination that you will win is made…” Bobby Knight.

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4 Responses

  1. Let’s also take a look at the political aspect, has Government really checked wether this A.P.C examiners that also mark the papers, are also not using the massive failure as a strategy to sabotage the free educational systems… since they are the opposition party?? I’m Mohamed Pessima (2020 Candidate) and mine was withheld ????

    • Giovanni O.C Olakunori says:

      That’s an interesting perspective. I can’t say. You can always ask for your papers to be remarked if you’re confident you should pass. You can also choose to take the matter to court.

  2. Festus Chibuike Nwachukwu says:

    Please, I will need a downloaded copy of this material, where I can readily access it whenever I need it most in my device. Thanks

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