Every year, over 1.8 million people sit and write the JAMB Exams. It is a matriculation test to enable you to advance to a further level in your education, tertiary level to be exact.
It is a crucial exam, standardized throughout Nigeria, but the most crucial subject of the JAMB examinations is the Use of English. The JAMB English subject is compulsory among the other subjects, in fact, it is the only compulsory subject in JAMB.
Other subjects can be chosen based on your course, so those heading towards medicine are expected to register subjects such as biology, those heading towards engineering courses register subjects such as maths and physics.
But JAMB English is a staple of the Exams. It is that important. Probably because the English language is a significant subject in school courses since it is used to teach other subjects and it is our primary language of communication.
So, it is only logical to start preparing for English exams ahead of time. The JAMB English exams have four sections, there is the passage section, lexis section, structure section, and the oral forms section.
The passage section comprises of comprehension passages and short stories to read and answer questions that follow. Which could be both from fiction or nonfiction texts.
In this article, we will be explaining fiction and nonfiction texts, answering comprehension passages, and how to better prepare for the JAMB passage section.
Understanding Fiction And Non-fiction Texts
Fiction is a form of literature that is made up, it is a lie, a fabrication. Examples of fiction texts include stories, novels, fairy-tales, folktales and a lot more.
Fiction made it possible to express a part of literature that can be a fantasy, Alice In Wonderland is a prime example, it is about a girl wandering through a dream world, a very weird dream world.
Or let’s look at The Hunger Games, it is set in a distant future where kids are forced to fight in a death-match. Isn’t that just too over the top for reality?.
They are entertaining, and you will become fixated on these pieces of literature once you start reading them, something to note here is that it takes considerable writing technique and skills to come up with these texts.
They are composed of literary devices with well-written grammar and punctuation, so expect to see the use of metaphors, synonyms and antonyms, repetition, and so on used in fiction texts.
When analyzing fiction texts you should be aware of the author’s mood and style, and the why i.e. the main topic or idea behind the write-up. Also, take note of the narrative voice, is it in the first-person narrative voice, the second person narrative voice or the third person narrative voice.
Fiction types are usually defined by their length, for instance, a story that consists of a few thousand words like 5,000 is considered a short story. The main types include novels, novellas, and short stories.
And there are many genres under each category of fiction type, there is science fiction, for instance, the book mentioned from earlier is a great example of a science fiction novel, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Then there are other sub-genres like horror, mystery, young adult, fantasy and romance.
Non-fiction, on the other hand, is a written text based on facts and true-life happenings, it could be a news story, letters to someone, advertisements, the biography of a famous person, or a blog post, like this Superprof's post you are reading.
Despite not being able to tell fantastically fictitious tales, literary non-fiction has a way of grasping the reader's attention to make people keep coming back for more.
So literary devices are used just as in the case of the fiction text, to create that suspense, vivid imagery and to make it an interesting read. In short, metaphors, antonyms, idiomatic expressions and such, are used throughout literary nonfiction texts.
An example of literary nonfiction is The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War by Alexander A. Madiebo. It was the story of a general who witnessed the Biafran war, the book elaborates on the Nigerian civil war from an unbiased Igbo point of view.
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Preparing For JAMB Exam Passage Section
To analyze a passage text, whether fiction or nonfiction, you have to first identify what type of text it is, then what purpose was it written for and what audience does it serve?
The three elements are, type, audience, purpose. These three are fundamental to analyzing any passage text.
The type of the text is similar to some of the things we have discussed, fiction and non-fiction, then under each category, you will find many sub-genres or subcategories like historical romance, formal and informal, and so on.
When authors are writing about anything, they always consider their audience, a children’s book is for children and a young adult book for teenagers, news stories that discuss complicated financial statements are probably best left for economists.
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By correctly identifying the audience you will understand the layout of the story (or text), the style, the language and structure used. These are important to help you respond to questions from the JAMB passage section.
Furthermore, to aptly answer comprehension questions you have to learn to decipher what the author is thinking, you will have to understand the content of the passage and in what context words are used. You should expect questions on the meaning of words and phrases, or the meaning of expressions.
Look at the tone, language structure and content to know more about a text when analyzing it. In the JAMB Passage section, you will be required to answer questions which only your power of analysis can help you with.
Questions you will be asked from the passage section are there to test your comprehension skills, and to test your understanding of language, comprehension of phrases, words, and figurative and idiomatic expressions.
You can prepare for the English exams beforehand by reading up renowned Nigerian literary texts such as Things Fall Apart, Purple Hibiscus, Exam Focus English, The Famished Road, My Sister The Serial Killer, Drummer Boy, and The Joys Of Motherhood.
They will help you attain a better understanding of literature texts, you will be able to comprehend and compare texts better, the literary devices used in the texts, and the writing styles and tones. Also, read up the regular English language textbooks, good ones, as recommended by your school teacher or JAMB itself.
When you are about to write the JAMB English exams you need to become friends with your English textbooks. Something more than the casual acquaintances you only visit to do homework.
Don’t underestimate the power of English language textbooks, they contain so much information, more than you can ever imagine.
But reading books with disregard for time, food or sleep is worse than not reading at all, to prepare for English exams, make lesson plans and a revision timetable.
Also, find a conducive environment where no one’s going to disturb you.
Relying on yourself is good, but taking extra home lessons with an English tutor is even better. You can find an English tutor to help you with your studies.
Superprof has English tutors that offer many different lesson types including English exam preparations. You can find a very good tutor within any budget to help you succeed in your exams.
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Responding To JAMB Passage Section
The JAMB Passage section may have up to 50-60 questions in the JAMB English exams. And remember, the clock is ticking so you can’t just sit around and wait for the answers to reveal themselves, preparation is key.
If you have an idea of what to expect, you will not be caught by surprise during the exams. JAMB Passage section consists of, as the name suggests, a comprehension passage, that you are to read fully and answer the questions that follow.
JAMB may instruct you in the following manner, “Read passage 1 to answer questions 10-15” or something similar. The passage could be an excerpt from an article or novel.
Besides the regular short excerpts from various sources that make up the passages, there is always one fictional book that is part of the JAMB English syllabus that you must read.
Questions will be asked from the book, and in order to answer them, you will need to read it first. The book is either of these two, Forcados High School by A.H Mohammed, or Sweet Sixteen by Bolaji Abdullahi. Check your JAMB syllabus for that year to confirm which one you are supposed to read.
When you are in the exam hall, always remember to stay calm, click on the right answers to the best of your knowledge and remember, the clock is ticking, so prepare well for your English exams before walking into that exam's hall.
You want to pass JAMB without a hiccup, then read this in your free time.
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