The exams of the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board better referred to as JAMB, is a nationally accepted exam that is written yearly by students who are applying to a higher institution.

It is a matriculation exam and it is designed to serve as a uniform standard for granting students entry into a higher institute of learning if they obtained the cut-off marks.

In short, it is your ticket into a university, polytechnic, monotechnic, or a college of education.

A common misunderstanding about JAMB is that JAMB itself is taking to be the exam, while it actually is the exam board, and the UTME is the exams you write, Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). But everyone just calls it JAMB, and JAMB it is.

As we all know, JAMB is a requirement to gain admission into any higher institute of learning. Students must write a combination of four subjects usually maths and English including two other subjects related to the course of your choice, with a particular emphasis on the JAMB English exam.

It is the only obligatory subject in the JAMB exam and carries more points than the other subjects because it has more questions and more sections to deal with.

Hence, it is appropriate to start preparations for the JAMB English exams ahead of time. If you score well in the JAMB English exam, you score well in the overall exams since it has more points.

More correct answers in English, means more points, and more points means a better chance of success in the exams.

Use of English has four sections, namely;

  1. Passage/comprehension section
  2. Lexis section
  3. Structure section
  4. Oral form section

They all have significant importance in learning the English language.

To give you a head-start in your English exam preparations, here’s a description of each section, along with it a short guide on how you may tackle the Use of English in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exams (UTME).

Comprehension And Passages In The JAMB English

You may come across prose in the JAMB Passage section.
Prose is a type of literary fiction text you may come across in the JAMB Passage section. Source:

The passage section of the JAMB English exam is composed of fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is a type of literary text that is a fabrication by the author, everything told there, either a story, a tale, etc., is a lie.

While non-fiction is the total opposite of fiction, it is absolutely true. Examples of nonfiction texts are letters, news stories, articles, and informative blog posts.

There are three categories of fiction, poetry, prose, and drama. And under each category still, there are numerous types. Take prose for instance.

We have science fiction, historical fiction, romance fiction, these are examples of novels that tell a story in the form of prose. King Solomon Mines by Henry Rider Haggard is an example of what is known as a romantic adventure novel.

The length of written prose fiction usually defines how they are named, we have novels, novella, and short stories. In the passage section of the JAMB English exam, you would be asked to read a short passage and “answer the questions that follow”.

And the passage could come from any novella, novel or short story, usually one that was penned by a famous African or Nigerian author.

When you analyze this section, you should be able to identify the main topic/idea and the grammatical functions in the passage, identify the mood and intentions of the writer, and the opinions or ideals that drive the text.

As all the questions in JAMB are multiple-choice questions or objectives, expect not to write down any answers but to select from a choice of answers that will either test your comprehension of idioms, figures of speech, use of phrases, clauses and such.

One important aspect of the passage section is the book you are going to read. JAMB has a novel you must read as part of the syllabus each year, questions from this section touch upon the book. The books are In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, The Last Days at Forcados High School, A. H. Mohammed.

Questions could range from ordinary comprehension questions to questions on grammatical use. There are two of the books for JAMB English as you can see, you must check the JAMB English syllabus for that year to see which one to read.

While reading passages, you must consider the narrative voice, the theme, and the setting as they are paramount to any written piece.

Topics that are often covered in the passage section of the Use of English in JAMB exams include the following, comprehension of phrases, clauses, sentences, sentence structure, logical reasoning, etc.

Lexis And Structure

Synonyms and antonyms are the first things to come to mind about this section. Other topics of interest in the JAMB Lexis and Structure section include sentence patterns, word classes, and their functions, mood, tense, concord, degree (positive, comparative and superlative) and question tags, punctuation, and spelling.

The language and structure of a fiction or nonfiction text are what give it it’s compelling themes, settings, narratives, and characterization. The use of expressions and literary devices is what defines this section of the JAMB English exam.

So similes and metaphors, and types of words used whether nouns, adjectives or verbs, are all things you should expect from this section.

You could be asked about the meaning of a word based on the context it appears in a text, and to identify similarities and opposite in meaning words, or to differentiate between correct and incorrect punctuation and spellings.

Learn to identify which narrative voice is used in a text.
Learn to identify which narrative voice is used in a text. Source: Pixabay

JAMB Oral Forms

The last section of the JAMB English exam is the Oral Form section. This is the application of sounds in English spoken language, which includes vowels and consonants, intonations, word stress, and even rhymes.

Several of the oral forms in this section have subcategories, for instance under vowels you have monophthongs and diphthongs, under word stress you have monosyllabic and polysyllabic stress. You should be able to determine which one’s which, and determine when to use them.

The JAMB Oral forms section may have up to 10-15 questions, each question has a single mark. This section has the least number of questions in the JAMB English exams, the other sections such as passage and structure usually comprise of up to 50-60 questions.

As opposed to the name, no one’s going to call you out to stand up to answer questions orally or to listen to recordings to answer questions afterward, those are for other types of exams, not JAMB, everything is completely on the computer.

How To Answer JAMB English Questions

The JAMB exams is a Computer-Based-Test (CBT), meaning it is carried out on a computer system. A few years back it used to be written with paper and pencil but not anymore.

Now CBT is the way the exams are conducted around the country, the CBT exams are a more enhanced and reliable system. You could even get the results within the hour of writing the exam.

First, candidates are required to open a profile with the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board, it will have their personal details such as name, address and phone number, and JAMB exam details such as their registration number and CBT center.

They will print out papers that will contain those information, and they will need to present it at the centers they are sitting for the exams before they are allowed in.

Answering The Questions

On the computer screen, you will be asked to login with your details, a new page on the screen will open with the subjects, select a subject and the questions will show. A little timer on the edge of the page is there to constantly remind you that time is running.

Once you run out of time the computer logs you out. Finished or not.

To answer JAMB English questions, use your mouse to select the correct answer on the screen and tick the box with the right answer. It takes familiarity to get the hang of it the first time, and we advice you download the official JAMB CBT software to practice.

Or you could check out the many websites that offer free CBT tests, the interface may be a little different from JAMB's but the basic idea behind it is the same. You can use it to practice.

JAMB English Exam Preparations.
Prepare for Jamb English exams by practicing with the JAMB CBT website. Source:

Another way to prepare for your JAMB English exams is to find an English tutor that specializes in helping students prepare for English examinations.

We have just briefly touched upon the JAMB general structure for the use of English. But to pass JAMB you will need a lot more than a brief explanation of English concepts.

Below are some of the books you will find extremely useful when preparing for your JAMB English exams.

Attah, M. O. (2013) Practice in Spoken English for Intermediate and Advanced Learners, Maiduguri: University of Maiduguri Press

Bamgbose, A. (2002) English Lexis and Structure for Senior Secondary Schools and colleges (Revised Edition), Ibadan: Heinemann

Banjo, A. et al (2004) New Oxford Secondary English Course Book Six for Senior Secondary Schools, Ibadan: UP Plc.

Caesar, O. J. (2003) Essential Oral English for Schools and Colleges, Lagos: Tonad Publishers Limited

Daniel Jones (2011) Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Egbe, D. I (1996) Mastering English Usage and Communication Skills, Lagos: Tisons

Elugbe, B. (2000) Oral English for Schools and Colleges, Ibadan: Heinemann

Grant, N. J. H, Nnamonu, S. Jowitt, D. (1998) Senior English Project 3, (New Edition) Harlow: Longman

You can read full list of JAMB English recommend books on any website offering information on JAMB English.

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Hafiz is a freelance writer who has an appetite for creativity and smart tech. He also dabbles in poetry.