BECE Syllabus for English Studies

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About BECE English Studies Syllabus

This syllabus will prepare you for your Basic Education Certificate Examination(BECE) in English Language. This exam is designed to assess the fundamental knowledge and abilities you’ve gained throughout your nine years of Basic Education in English Studies, as outlined in the revised 2012 curriculum for JSS1-JSS3, developed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).

In this syllabus, you will cover writing, reading comprehension, vocabulary and oral development, which are the essential tools for the BECE English Exam.

Aim & Objectives

The aim of this syllabus is to provide the candidate with the exposure they need to concentrate on while preparing for their BECE English examination. The syllabus is designed to assess how the candidates are proficient in reading, comprehending, and analyzing a given passage.

It also wants to assess the candidate’s listening and speaking skills, as well as help them to develop a strong foundation in the English language in their post-basic education. The candidates will also be tested on analyzing and appreciating literary text.

Sections & Marking Guide

The BECE English examination covers both Language and Literature. There are three papers to be taken in this examination. Paper 1, 2, and 3. Paper 1 and 3 are language while Paper 2 questions will be on Literature.


Paper 1 consists of 80 multiple choice questions to be answered for 80 minutes with a total of 80 marks covering various themes on Comprehension, Vocabulary Development, Grammatical Accuracy, and Spoken English. Below is the breakdown of the structure of the themes:

Section A: Comprehension

Section A of the comprehension test consists of two passages with five questions each or a single passage with ten questions. The questions will test the candidate’s reading abilities, including identifying main and supporting ideas, and word meanings, following directions given in the passage, answering questions, understanding the writer’s mood, critical evaluation of the passage, repetition recognition, retention, recall,  and speed.

Section B: Vocabulary Development

The section consists of twenty-five multiple-choice questions that will assess a candidate’s ability to express his thoughts, ideas, views, opinions, and observations in English using anchor points such as home, school, places of worship, market, health, education, government, youth empowerment, drug abuse, human rights, population and family life education, drug abuse education, food safety, consumer protection, sexually transmitted diseases, peace education, gender issues, national values, road safety, and environmental education.

Section C: Grammatical Accuracy

Section C consists of 30 multiple-choice questions that assess a candidate’s proficiency with grammar by looking at how well they can form and organize words. Subject-verb agreement, modal forms, active and passive voices, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, tenses, punctuation, spelling, direct and indirect speech, and question tags are only a few of the speech-related topics covered in the questions.

Section D: Spoken English

The Test of Oral English will consist of fifteen multiple-choice questions covering various components of spoken English as outlined in the nine-year Basic Education Curriculum.

PAPER 2: Literature

Paper 2 will consist of forty multiple-choice questions to be answered in forty minutes. The questions will cover all of the recommended texts under the three genres of Drama. Poetry and prose. 

Here is the breakdown of how the questions are set: Five questions will be set from each of the three drama and prose texts, and 10 questions will be set from Poetry. 30 + 10 = 40 questions. A total of 40 marks (i.e., 27%) are awarded to this paper. 

PAPER 3: Language (Essay)

Paper 3 in BECE English is a 45-minute essay to answer two compulsory questions, each of these questions carries 15 marks making it a total of 30 marks.

BECE Syllabus for English Studies

I. Reading for main and
supporting ideas
a. Identifying main and supporting ideas
in a given passage relating to sports.
education and election.
b. Differentiating between main and
supporting ideas/gists in a given
Reading to follow direction in
written communication.
a. Reading to follow direction in written
b. Identifyng key words in the passage
that show direction.
c. Blending matenals with related
Reading to identify the meanings
of various contexts
Reading for meanings of words in various
contexts through
i. clues provided by sorrounding words;
ii. alternative words that can fit into the
IV. Critical Readinga. Meaning and steps of critical reading.
b. The critical process surveyng. skimming.
line by line reading. recalling and reading.
c. Reading to identify facts and opinions
of a passage on “evils of smokin of
V. Reading for critical evaluationa. Reading critically.
b. Meamng of critical reading.
c. Aspects of cntJcal reading.
d. Essence of cntical reading.
e. Selected passages on critical reading
i. facts;
ii. opinions; and
iii. deductions.
f. Explanation on the meaning of danger
signs on our roads, types of danger signs
on the roads.
VI. Reading for speedReading for speed techniques
i. surveying!scanning for main points.
ii. skimming for specific infomation
VII. Reading for summarya. Suitable passages/stories that illustrate:
i. topic sentences,
ii. kcy ideas.
b. Expressions that redirect attention to
the main points on:
i. past content;
ii. types of communication and
iii. safe stora e of food.
VI. Reading to answer specific
Read selected passages carefully with the
intention to answer the questions on them
based on:
i. knowledge level
ii translation level
iii interpretation level
iv projection level.
IX. Reading for maximum
retention and recall
Intensive Reading
a. Reading for maximum recall
b. Reading strategies e.g preview, question,
recite, recall, review
X. Reading to understand the
author’s mood
Reading to understand the author’s mood
e.g anger, happiness, doubt,
disappointment, suspicion, excitement etc.
XI. Reading for spatial
Reading for spatial description
e.g. interpretation of diagrams, maps and
XII. Reading to understand the
witer’s purpose
a. Understanding the writer’s purpose(s)
e.g to persuade. inform, convince, irritate,
annoy, p ease, entertain, dissuade,
to stimulate thought and to indoctrinate.
b.Selected passages on contemporary
issues e.g. inflation, HIV/AIDs, mobile
communication, corruption
I. Writing to highlight main and
supporting ideas
a. Story or passage highlighting main and
supporting ideas.
b. Arrangement of ideas in logical sequence
with introduction and conclusion.
Il. Composition writing:
Expository and
a. Elements of composition:
i. introduction: pre-writing, writing and
ii. body
iii. conclusion
b. Arrangement of ideas in logical
Ill. Letter Writing:
features of formal and informal
Letter Writing:
a. Types
i. formal
ii. informal

b. Formal Letters (features)
i. two addresses
ii. openmg salutation
iii. body of the letter
iv. closing
v. Signature
c. Informal Letters (features)
i. one address
ii. opening salutation
iii. body ofthe letter
iv. closing
IV. Summary WritingSummary writing from selected passages
on contemporary issues.
Essentials in summary writing:
i. identification of topic sentences from
given paragraphs passages.
ii. identification of key ideas from different
passages, e.g. passages on corruption and
road accidents.
l. Speeches: Production of vowel
and consonant sounds in
a. Vowel sounds
b. Consonant sounds
II. (phonenes)Long and short vowels, e.g. /æ/ back,
/a:/ bark, / i/ be, / i: / bec, bit/beat, hit,
i. consonants and consonant clusters
ii. consonants, e.g. fal/vim; fish/van;
iii. consonant clusters e.g. respect,
principle, struggle

b. diphtong /ei//ai //au/
Ill. Speeches:
Intonation, Stress and Rhythm
a. Listening to speeches based on the
i. Human rights;
ii. Gender issues;
iii. Value Orientation;
(honesty, respect for elders, punctuality,
regularity etc.,)
iv. Peace Education;
v. Conflict Resolution;
vi Drug abuse;
vii. Global Warming;
vüi. Road Safety;
ix. Security and
x. Inter-ethnic marriages.

b. Highlighting correct intonation, stress
and rhythm.

c. Making statements, commands and
questions using the correct stress,
intonation and rhyme
IV. ComprehensionSpeeches and Materials (live or recorded)
based on the following:
i. the family
(a) Nuclear family
(b) Extended family
ii. the neighbourhood
iii. accountability in govemment
iv. . infectious diseases
v. peace in the community
vi. examination malpractice
vii. our environment
viii. health issues (diseases)
ix. the computer
x. cultural practices
xi the school
xii. election
xiv. child labour and tramc
l. Parts of Speecha. Nouns
b. Verbs
c. Adjectives
d. Pronouns
Il. Parts of Speech: Adverbs,
Conjunctions and Prepositions
a. Adverbs
b. Conjunctions
c. Prepositions
d. Functions of:
i. adverbs
ii. conjunctions
iii. prepositions

e. Make sentences with
i. adverbs
ii. conjunctions
iii. preposit!ons
Ill. Adverbials and Tensesa. Identify features of adverbials and tenses
from passages on
i. peace and dialogue
ii. human rights
iii. value orientation

b. Adverbials,
e.g- Frequency: always, often. everyday
i. intensifiers. e.g. so. such. very
ii. manner. e.g. polite, rude

c. Identification of adverbials and tenses in
a given passage on:
i. our culture
ii. human rights
iii. indiscrpline highlighting adverbials
and tenses

d. Kinds of Adverbials:
i. contrast, e.g. yet, though, although:
ii. reason, e.g., cause and effect: because.
so that, in order. so as iii. manner, e.g. as if,
as iv. purpose, e.g. so that, because
v. condition. e.g. if. unless. until. provided.

e. Tenses, e.g. present, past and future.
f. Construction of sentences with adverbials
and tenses.
IV. Active and Passive Verbsa. Identification of Active and Passive verbs
from passages on:
i. preventing IIIV/AIDS
ii. war against cultism
iii. dangers of examination malpractice etc.

b. Making sentences using:
i. active verbs
ii. passive verbs.

c. Changing active to passive verbs and
Vice versa.
V. Direct and Indirect Speecha. Direct statements: Commands and
b. Indirect statements/lndirect speech
VI. Modal Formsa. Identification ofmodals from selected
passages based on the following:
i. patriotism
ii. discipline
iii. benefits of reading newspapers
b. Modals, e.g. will, can, would
i. direct form
ii. indirect fom
I. Introduction to Literaturea. Literature Pieces
b. Types of Oral Literature
c. Categories of Written Literature
d. The whys Literature reflect different
aspect of culture
Il. Introduction to Folktalesa. African & Non-African tales
b. Features and Themes
c. Didactic Lessons
d. Entertamment
e. Magical Features
Ill. Introduction to Myths and
a. African and Non-African tales
composing myths and legends
b. Features.’Themes of myths and legends:
1. magic
ii. supernatural
iii. superstion
IV. Prose: Types and Featuresa. Types of Prose:
i. narrative
ii. descriptive

b. Features:
i. plot
ii. characterization
iii. style
iv. setting
v. theme
V. Poetry: Types and Featuresa. Poetry Types:
i. ep1c
ii. lyric
iii. dramatic

b. Features and Language:
i. concise
ii. unique
iii. high
VI. Drama: Types and Featuresa. Types of Drama:
i. comedy
ii. tragedy
iii. tragi-comedy

b. Features:
i. theme
ii. stage
iii. action
iv. plot
v. characters

c. Drama texts on safety of food and
VII. Figures of Speech:
Similes and Metaphors
a. Definition of Figures of Speech
b. Similes and Metaphors
Vlll. Prose: Short Stories and
a. Short Stories and Novelettes based on:
i. effects of climate change
ii. road crashes
iii. honesty and fair play

b. Identification of Types of Prose:
i. Narrative
ii. Descriptive

c. Features of Prose: Plot, Characterisation,
IX. Nigerian and African
a. Nigerian and African Folktales

b. Features:
i. didactic
ii. entertaining
iii. magical
iv. riddles
X. Popular Myths/Legendsa. African and Non-African Tales
comprising popular myths and legends.

b. Features of popular myths legends:
i. magic
ii. supematural
iii. superstition
Xl. Poetry (Written)a. Types of Poems (Language):
i. concise
ii. unique
iii. high

b. Narratives and Ballads
Xll. Drama: Kinds and Featuresa. Drama Text
b. Message of the Text
c. Essential Props/Costumes
Xlll. More of Figures of Speech:
Irony and Hyperbole
a. Definition of Irony and Hyperbole
b. Identification of Irony and Hyperbole in
Literature Texts
c. Construction of corTect sentences with
iron and h ole.
XIV. Non-African FolktalesFeatures of Non-African Folktales:
i. didactic
ii. entertaining
iii. archaic
XV.Lessons from Myths/Legendsa. African and Non-African Tales
comprising myths and legends
b. Moral lessons from given m sne ends.
XVI. Prose (Revision)a. Types of Prose
b. Features of Prose
XVIl. Revision:
a. Poetry Types:
i. Dirge
ii. Epic, etc.

b. Poetry Language:
i. concise
ii. unique
iii. high
XVIII. Revision: Dramaa. Drama
i. Theme
ii. Features
iii. Costumes
iv. Props
v. Performance Audience
vii. Play Director
viii. Setting
ix. Characterization
x. Lan

BECE Grading Stage

The grades that were used are A, B, C, P, and F. They will be listed below in order of merit.

  • A-Distinction(Highest Pass Grade)
  • B-Very Good
  • C-Credit
  • P-Pass
  • F-Fail










Very Good










Recommended English Studies Textbooks for BECE

Recommended Literature Textbooks


  1. Maxwell O. Onyeka, Vengeance of the Spirit, Rasmed Publications Limited Ibadan.
  2. Tade Adegbindin, The Saint, Extension Publications Limited.        
  3. Tina Bogwu, The Rejected Child, Victorious Queens Ventures, Akute.o . 


  1. Chigbo Ugwuoke. Ogadimma: The Diary of a Housemaid, Goforthcbcst International Ltd, Abuja.
  2. Chinelo Ifczulike, The Costly Mistake, Extension Publications Limited. 
  3. Chmeio Nicole, Save the African Womb, Diamond Queens Publishers, Ajah Lagos.


  1. Niyi Osundare, “Nepa”
  2. Niyi Osundare, “Inu Rere”
  3. Niyi Osundare, “Money”
  4. Niyi Osundare, “Nightfall”
  5. Sola Olatunji, “The Thief is one Of Us”
  6. Akeem Ajibade, “Let my Mother Sing”
  7. E.E Sanyaolu, “Racism”
  8. E.E Sanyaolu, “Unstead Commissioner”
  9. Segun Adekoya Mabogaje, “Change! Change!! Change
  10. Segun Adekoya Mabogaje, “Patriotism”
  11. Chi bo Ugwuokc, “Some African Democrats” 
  12. Chi bo Ugwuokc,  “A New Africa”

Secondary Text

  1. Anatomy of Literature in English, NERDC Edition NECO BECE 2020-2023 syllabus by Ayoola Olamide. Vol. I and 2.

Poetry Anthologies

  1. Aiwona Andrew,  Heavy Tongues (Poems) 
  2. E.E Sanyaolu, Poetry for Pleasure, Vantage Publishers Ltd, Ibadan. 1987.
  3. Akeem Ajibade, Poems’ Time, Kunlaj Publishers, Ibadan. 2011.
  4. Niyi Osundare, Early Birds: Poems for Jnr. Sec, Sch.. BK3, Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan. 2011.
  5. Chigbo Ugwuoke, A New Africa: (Collection of Poems), GoforthebestIntemational Ltd, Abuja. 2015.

Segun Adeko, Reminders and other Poems, Cosmopolitan Books, Ibadan. 2015.

Frequently Asked Questions About BECE English Studies

What happens if I fail English Studies in BECE?

If you fail the BECE English Studies exam, you can request for a resit which requires a specified amount of a non-refundable fee.

What curriculum does the English Studies BECE Syllabus follow?

The BECE English Studies syllabus is designed in line with the revised 9-year Basic Education Curriculum on English Studies for JSSI-JSS3 by the Nigerian Research and Development Council (NERDC) in 2012.

How many papers are there in the BECE English exam?

There are three papers: Paper 1 (Language – Multiple Choice), Paper 2 (Literature – Multiple Choice), and Paper 3 (Language – Essay). The educators should make sure to start teaching the candidates from their JSS 1 class on these themes.

The list of recommended texts are usually updated at intervals every four years. Candidates and educators should make sure they check the recent recommended text before using it.

What should I bring to the examination hall?

You are expected to come along with a writing instrument (pen or pencil), an eraser only for your BECE English exam. As any other material after that will not be allowed to be taken into the examination hall.

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