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NECO vs. WAEC: Which Exam is Right for You?

When it comes to deciding between NECO and WAEC for your secondary school exams in Nigeria, it can be a bit confusing. Both exams are important for getting into universities, but they have some differences. This article will help you figure out which exam might be best for you.

What are NECO and WAEC?

NECO (National Examinations Council)

  • Started in: 1999.
  • Focus: Specifically for students in Nigeria.
  • Main Exam: Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
  • When: Held once a year, around June/July.
  • Curriculum: Based on the Nigerian education system.
  • Recognition: Accepted by all Nigerian universities.

WAEC (West African Examinations Council)

  • Started in: 1952.
  • Focus: For students in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia.
  • Main Exam: West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
  • When: Held twice a year – May/June for school students and Nov/Dec for private candidates.
  • Curriculum: Covers a broader West African syllabus.
  • Recognition: Accepted by universities in Nigeria and internationally.

Things to Think About When Choosing

Where You Want to Study

  • In Nigeria: Both NECO and WAEC are good. Nigerian universities accept both.
  • Outside Nigeria: WAEC might be better since it’s recognized in more places, including other West African countries and international universities.

Exam Timing

  • WAEC: More flexible with two sessions each year (May/June and Nov/Dec). This means you have more chances to take the exam if you need to retake it or want to choose the best time for you.
  • NECO: Only once a year, so you have to be ready by June/July.

Curriculum and Content:

  • NECO: Focused on what you learn in Nigerian schools. This can be easier if all your schooling has been in Nigeria.
  • WAEC: Covers material from all five West African countries. This might be more challenging but useful if you’re looking at studying outside Nigeria.

Difficulty and Preparation:

  • NECO: Some students find NECO questions to be more straightforward because they are based on the Nigerian curriculum.
  • WAEC: Can seem harder because it has a wider range of questions from different countries’ curriculums.


  • NECO: Usually cheaper, which can be important if you’re on a tight budget.
  • WAEC: Generally a bit more expensive, but it might be worth it if you’re looking for more options.


Choosing between NECO and WAEC depends on what you need. If you’re planning to stay in Nigeria for university, either exam will work. If you’re thinking about studying abroad or want more flexibility when you take the exam, WAEC could be a better choice.

Talk to your teachers and parents to help you decide. Think about your future plans, how prepared you feel, and your budget. Both NECO and WAEC can help you reach your goals, so choose the one that fits you best.

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