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Use of English Syllabus for JAMB

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The Use of English exam is a compulsory subject in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination(UTME). It is designed to test your language skills,  comprehension abilities and will also include sections on comprehension passages, grammar and vocabulary.

To perform well, you must be able to understand complex texts and apply grammatical rules correctly.

Regardless of your course of study or choice of institution, you will be required to take Use of English. So you must study hard and ensure you pass with flying colors. 

The Use of English can be the easiest subject and it is possible to score 70 and above. It is also a dicey subject to fail. Do not underestimate it.

Marking Guide

The syllabus consists of three sections:

SECTION A: Comprehension/Summary

This section comprises three (3) main parts and will have twenty-five questions The 3 parts are divided into:

  1. A comprehension passage: which will have 5 questions and will test a candidate’s ability to understand words, phrases, clauses, sentences, figures of speech, and idioms used in the passage.
  2. One Cloze passage: This will also have 5 questions and will reflect various disciplines. It should be about 200 words long.
  3. One reading text: The recommended text for this year is The Life Changer and 10 questions will be asked on it.

SECTION B: Lexis and Structure.

This section will test a candidate’s ability to identify words and expressions in ordinary form, as well as figurative and idiomatic contexts. It will also determine similar and opposite meanings of words and test the candidate’s ability to differentiate between correct and incorrect punctuation and spelling.

Finally, it will test the ability to identify various grammatical patterns in use and interpret information conveyed in sentences. It will contain the following parts:

  1. Sentence interpretation: which will have 5 questions and will require candidates to choose the best interpretation for the bolded expressions.
    For example;

    The hiker struggled through the wilderness with a heavy backpack, gritting his teeth against the pain of the blisters on his feet and the cold wind that tore at his clothes.

    Which of the following best describes the tone of this passage
    A) Urgent
    B) Suspenseful
    C) Tragic
    D) Descriptive

  2. Antonyms: This will equally have 5 questions. Candidates will be required to choose the options opposite in meaning to the bolded:

    Kunle is quite “inexperienced”compared to Lekan. Which of these is the antonym of the word “inexperienced”?
    A) Naive
    B) Skilled
    C) Qualified
    D) Juvenile

  3. Synonyms: This will also contain 5 questions and candidates will be required to choose the options nearest in meaning to the bolded expression.

    Pick out the word nearest in meaning to the underlined word.

    She thought he was being quite whimsical and it was very unnecessary.
    A) Quirky
    B) Cheerful
    C) Reasonable
    D) Modest

SECTION C: Oral Forms

The final section of JAMB English is the Oral Form and will contain 10 questions.

The ten (10) questions will be picked out from the following topics: Vowels (2 questions), consonants (2 questions), Rhymes (2 questions), word stress (2 questions), and emphatic stress (2 questions).


The aim of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) syllabus in Use of English is to guide the candidates in their preparation for the Board’s examination. It is designed to evaluate the candidates’ ability to:

(i) Communicate effectively in both written and spoken English; and

(ii) Use the English Language for learning at the tertiary level.

Use of English Syllabus for JAMB Exams





(i) Each of the two passages to be set (one will be a cloze test) should reflect various disciplines and be about 200 words long.

(ii) Questions on the passages will test the following:
(a) Comprehension of the whole or part of each passage.
(b) Comprehension of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, figures of speech and idioms as used in the passages.
(c) Coherence and logical reasoning (deductions, inferences, etc).
(d) Approved Reading text (The Life Changer by Khadija Abubakar Jalli)
(e) Synthesis of ideas from the passages.

By synthesis of ideas is meant the art of combining distinct or separate pieces of information to form a complete whole.
Candidates should be able to:
i. Identify main points/topic sentences in passages;
ii. determine implied meaning;
iii. identify the grammatical functions of words, phrases, clauses and figurative/idiomatic expressions;
iv. deduce or infer the writer’s intentions including mood, attitude to the subject matter and opinion.



clause and sentence patterns

word classes and their functions

mood, tense, aspect, number, agreement/concord, degree (positive, comparative and superlative) and question tags

punctuation and spelling

ordinary usage, figurative usage and idiomatic usage are to be tested.

Idioms to be tested shall be those that are formal and expressed in standard British English.
Candidates should be able to:
i. identify words and expressions in their ordinary, figurative and idiomatic contexts;
ii. determine similar and opposite meaning of words;
iii. differentiate between correct and incorrect punctuation and spelling;
iv. identify various grammatical patterns in use;
v. interpret information conveyed in sentences.
Vowels (monophthongs and diphthongs

Consonants (including clusters)

Rhymes (including homophones)

Word stress (monosyllabic and polysyllabic)

Intonation (words emphatic stress)

Emphatic stress involves the placement of normal stress on words in an utterance for the purpose of emphasis.
Candidates should be able to:
i. make distinctions between vowel types;
ii. differentiate between consonant types;
iii. identify correct accentuation in individual words and connected speech.

Recommended Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. Idowu, O. O, Sogbesan, T. S, Adofo, A. K. Burgess, D. F and Burgess, L. J. (1998). Round-up English: A Complete Guide, Lagos: Longman.

  10. Idris, U. (2001). Oral English at Your Fingertips for Schools and Colleges, Lagos, M. Youngbrain Publishers.

  11. Igiligi, E. C. and Ogenyi, S. O. (2010) Grammar and Composition in the G.S.M. Age, Enugu: Joe Hills Production Services.

  12. Jauro, L. B. (2013). Oral English for Schools and Colleges: A teaching and Learning Approach, Yola: Paraclete Publishers.

  13. Nnamonu, S. and Jowitt, D. (1989). Common Errors in English, Lagos: Longman.

  14. Obinna, M. F. (2001). University Matriculation Use of English,(Fourth Edition) Port Harcourt: Sunray Books Limited

  15. Ogunsanwo, O. Duruaku, A. B.C, Ezechukwu, J and Nwachukwu, U. I (2005). Countdown English Language, (Revised Edition), Ibadan: Evans.

  16. Olatoye, S. (2006). The Silent Teacher, Ado-Ekiti: Segun and Sons Enterprises.

  17. Oluikpe, B. O. A, Nnaemeka, B. A, Obah, T. Y, Otagburuagu, E. J. Onuigbo, S. and Ogbonna, E. A. (1998). Intensive English for Senior Secondary School 3, Onitsha: Africana – FIRST Publisher.

  18. Tomori, S. H. O (2000). Objective Tests for School Certificate English: Practice in Lexis, Structure and Idiom (Reprinted Edition), Ibadan: Heinemann

  19. Ukwuegbu, C, Okoro, O., Idris, A. U., Okebukola, F. O. and Owokade, C. O. (2002). Catch-up English for SSCE/UME, Ibadan: Heinemann


How is the JAMB English Score Calculated?

The JAMB English score is calculated based on a combination of your performance on the exam and your performance on each section.  Each section has their allocated marks:

Section A:

Comprehension Passages – 5 questions multiply by (x) 3 marks each = 15 marks

Cloze Passage/Register – 10 questions multiply by (x) 2 marks each = 20 marks

Reading Text – 10 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 10 marks

Section A Total score: = 45 marks


Section B:

SENTENCE INTERPRETATION – 5 questions multiply by (x) 2 marks each = 10 marks

ANTONYMS – 5 questions multiply by (x) 2 marks each = 10 marks

SYNONYMS – 5 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 5 marks

BASIC GRAMMAR – 10 questions multiply by (x) 2 marks each = 20 marks

Section B Total Score: = 45 marks


Section C:

VOWELS – 2 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 2 marks.

CONSONANTS – 2 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 2 marks.

RHYMES – 2 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 2 marks.

WORD STRESS – 2 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 2 marks.

EMPHATIC STRESS – 2 questions multiply by (x) 1 mark each = 2 marks.

Section C Total Score: = 10 marks

The sum of all marks in UTME Use of English; Section A: 45 marks, Section B: 45 marks, and Section C: 10 marks.

UTME Use of English Total Marks = 100.

Note: your JAMB score will be determined by the number of questions in each UTME Subject you answered correctly multiplied by each of their marks.

What is the allocated time for JAMB?

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam is a two-hour exam. You will have to finish all 4 subjects in 2 hours. Since JAMB’s Use of English will have a total of 60 questions, I suggest you spend 20-45 secs on each question so you can finish up on time and have more than enough time for the other 3 subjects and to also cross check your work.

How to study physics for Jamb?

Practice! Practice and more practice!!!. Study past questions daily. Go through the syllabus and read every single topic under it.

Should I do Use of English in my JAMB?

You don’t have a choice as Use of English is compulsory, regardless of your choice of course

What's the pass mark for JAMB Physics?

There is no official pass mark, but scores above 50 are considered good. However, ensure to score as high as you can. The higher you score, the better your chances of admission for your choice course and institution.

How many questions are in JAMB Use of English?

JAMB English contains 60 multiple-choice questions. Some of which will be in the recommended reading text which is The Life Changer by Khadija Abubakar Jalli.

How long does it take to complete the JAMB Physics exam?

The entire exam takes 2 hours to complete and while there is no estimated time for each subject, I would advise you to spend at least 50 secs on each question so you can have enough time to go over your work again

Do I need to attend a JAMB tutorial to pass?

Not at all. You can read and ace your exams yourself. All you need to do is to have a consistent reading habit.

However, tutorials can also help you prepare better, connect with your peers, and gauge your confidence levels. 

What are the main topics for English in JAMB?

From the syllabus above, questions will be divided into 3 sections and they will be on comprehension passages, lexis and structure. As well as oral forms.Questions on the recommended text  “The Life Changer” will also be asked.

Are there any tips for scoring 300+ in JAMB?

Here are a few tips for you:

Start studying early enough. Avoid last minute reading at all costs. Also try practicing time management so you can utilize your time well. Endeavor to study past questions as often as possible and most importantly,get a goodnight rest a day for your exam.


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