WASSCE 2023: Four interesting questions from the English Language paper


It is another season of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), with the English exam having come up on May 17. I have had the opportunity to go through the objective paper and I find a good number of the questions very interesting. This is not in terms of whether they are difficult or simple, but because they echo some of the concepts we have regularly treated in this class. A ‘serious student’ of the Punch English Class would, indeed, find a good number of the questions familiar and relatively easy to tackle.

Here are four of them, from the section demanding that candidates pick the expressions that best complete the given sentences:

The thug was … murder.

  1. sued with
  2. charged with
  3. convicted for
  4. charged for

On more than one occasion, we have stressed that legal terms such as accuse, charge and convict select different prepositions. You accuse someone ‘of’ committing a crime and sue him ‘for’ it. The person can then be charged ‘with’ the crime (allegation). He could subsequently be convicted ‘of’ it. Unfortunately, many mishandle these structures, especially ‘charge with’ and ‘convicted of’, by saying charge for and convicted for. I hope that my dear candidates, especially our students here, had no problem choosing ‘charge with’ as far as the above WASSCE 2023 question is concerned: The thug was charged with murder.

The material used for sewing my dress is … to yours.

  1. more superior
  2. most superior
  3. superior
  4. very superior

We have also regularly featured the preposition, ‘to’, on this platform. Remember questions requiring ‘prefer to’, superior to’ as acceptable collocation. This is what the West African Examination Council (WAEC) is testing in the question above. It wants to be sure that the candidates are not among those who flaunt the blunder in ‘superior than’, or ‘more superior than/to’. The simple and correct expression is ‘superior to’, just as we have inferior to and prefer to: The material used for sewing my dress is superior to yours.

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The test seemed … simple that we thought we would all pass.

  1. so
  2. very
  3. too
  4. over

What is your answer here? Again, note tha ‘so’ and ‘that’ are Siamese twins in this context. That is why the correct answer is A: The test seemed so simple that we thought we would all pass.

You are likely to think that, based on the three questions we have treated, WAEC must have been very generous this year. You can’t be too sure, really, since these are just three out of the 80 in the OBJ paper. Some others could be rather trickier, like this one:

Tayo: I think I can now solve the problem. Essien: …

  1. Neither can I
  2. So I can
  3. So do I
  4. Either do I

Besides, there are other sections that, many believe, are usually more difficult than the ‘that best completes’ segment. These include ‘the most nearly opposite’, ‘the nearest in meaning’ and the passage with missing words. Our hope, however, is that every candidate will do SO well THAT there will be a harvest of  distinctions and towering credits.


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