Request a Demo

Edit Template

NABTEB English Language Syllabus

Best candidates study hard and smart. Knowing what NABTEB wants from you is the first step. Download the NABTEB English Language syllabus today. 

Home » NABTEB Syllabus » NABTEB English Language Syllabus

Writing English Language in NABTEB Exams

This NABTEB syllabus for the English Language is a must-read for all candidates who want to take the NABTEB examinations and want high scores.

In this syllabus, you see the full list of topics you are expected to know before the exam and you can focus more on those topics. This NABTEB English language syllabus also contains the marking guide for the exam so you know the number of papers you will write and the marks allocated for each paper.

Having a well-detailed syllabus like this is a must-have so do well to study it and practice your past questions as well.

NABTEB Marking Guide for English Language

Candidates will be expected to take three papers: Paper 1 and Paper 2 which are the Objective and Essay sections will be taken together, while Paper 3 which is the Oral Test will be taken separately.

Paper I – Objective Test: 

It will consist of multiple-choice questions relating to Lexis and structure. There will be 100 multiple choice objective test items which will last for a duration of 1 hour. The objective test items will be based on 40 lexical items, and 60 structural items and will have a total of 75 marks

Paper II: Essay Writing, Comprehension, and Summary. 

Section 1: Essay Writing 

In this section, candidates will be expected to answer one question from a choice of four topics for 45 minutes. The minimum length expected will be between 350-400 words unless otherwise stated. 

Credit will be given for clear and correct expression, accurate use of words, orderly presentation of materials, correct punctuation, and spelling. 

This section will have a total of 40 marks.

The objective of this section is to test candidates’ ability to communicate effectively in writing.  


This section will consist of prose passages each between  350-400  words long. 

The questions drawn from these passages are expected to test the following: 

(a) Direct questions from the passage. 

(b) Mechanical devices (punctuation). 

(c) Word class questions. 

(d) Figure of speech, e.g. simile, metaphor, etc. 

(e) Contextual and substitutional questions – word meaning in context. 

(f) Grammatical function questions in respect of phrases, clauses, direct and indirect speeches/conversation. 

This section is expected to last for 25 minutes and will have a total of 20 marks.

SECTION 3: SUMMARY:  (35 minutes:  30 marks). 

This section will consist of one prose passage of about  400– 500  words selected from a variety of excerpts from narratives,  dialogues,  argumentative,  descriptive, and exposition on topical issues relating to socioeconomic political issues around the world.

It  will  test  the  candidates’  ability  to

(a)  summarize  relevant  points  in  clear  context  and  concise English  and  

(b)  avoid the inclusion of extraneous materials,  repetition, and redundancy in their summary. 

The duration for this paper is 35 minutes and it will have a total of 30 marks.

PAPER III: ORAL ENGLISH  (25 MARKS): This paper will test candidates’ basic skills of communication in  English using the medium of speech.  

The examination will cover the different components and forms of receptive and productive communication,  namely,  Reading  Comprehension, listening comprehension, and Speech Production in English.

There will be two alternatives for this paper.  Alternative  A  for only school candidates and Alternative  B is for school and private candidates. The paper will last for about 50 minutes for 25 marks.

NABTEB Syllabus for English Language Exam

1PARTS OF SPEECHDefinition, Identification and uses of:
i. Parts of speech: noun, pronoun, adverb, verb, adjective, conjunction, preposition and interjection
ii. Construction of sentences with parts of Speech
iii. Identification of parts of Speech in a sentence e.g. the boy is tall The – article boy – noun is – verb tall – adjective
2DEFINITE & INDEFINITE ARTICLESi. Definite article “the” (where and when) to use the definite article – “the” in a sentence The definite article – “the” is used:
i. With all nouns – countable and un- countable e.g. the boy/the rice/the union
ii. When the noun is already known to us e.g. Bring the box on the table.
iii. Before oceans, seas, rivers, deserts, e.g. the Sahara Deserts, the Atlantic Ocean
iv Before proper nouns in the plural e.g. the Joneses.
v. Before Superlatives e.g. I am the greatest man on earth. Note situations in which nouns are not preceded by the definite article.
Note: Situation in which nouns are not preceded by the indefinite article

ii. Indefinite article “a/an” (when and where to use the indefinite article “a/an”) a) used with countable nouns in the singular form
• the form ‘a’ is used before words beginning with consonants e.g. (a boy), or before consonant sound e.g. (a union)
b) The form ‘an’ is used before words beginning with a vowel e.g. (an egg, an apple) or before vowel sound e.g. (An honour)
• When one is not being specific e.g. There is a boy in the garden
• For generalization e.g. an owl can see in the dark. A dog has four legs.
• Used in expression referring to one person or thing e.g. He is such a nice man. What a lovely day it has been.
• Denoting quantities e.g. a few books a lot of money. Indeed a little more.
• For expressions with “pair”/”per” e.g. we earn twenty Naira an hour. Those shoes are twenty Naira a pair.
• With people’s names (especially when the Person is not known to the speaker e.g. Mr. Jones wants to see you. There’s a Mr. Adams outside waiting to see you.
i. Present, Past and Future e.g. I am great, (present) I was great (past) I will be great (future)

ii. Sentence Construction constructing simple sentences with the different tenses such that subject and verb agree e.g. She wants some water. I want some water. They want some water. You want some water
4SENTENCE CONCORDi. Subject and Verb Agreement A singular noun takes on a singular verb, e.g. the dog barks, while a plural noun takes a plural verb e.g. the dogs bark.

ii. Exceptions to the rule of concord
a) Case of indefinite pronoun e.g. Everybody is invited.
b) Proximity of subjects of unequal status linked by correlating conjunctions e.g. Not only the teachers, the boy is bad. c) Collective noun/uncountable noun etc. verb respectively before written work.

iii. Agreement of Pronoun with its antecedents in e.g. (a) Number – Each man does the job his own way.
(b) Gender: The man has his duty, the woman has hers, and the people theirs
(c) Person: 1st, 2nd & 3rd person singular. I sing very well. You sing very well. She sings very well.
5LEXICAL & STRUCTURAL PATTERNi. Punctuation Marks and their uses e.g. comma, full stop, question mark, semi-colon, exclamation mark, quotation mark, parenthesis dash, etc.

ii. Direct and Indirect Speech e.g. Direct: “The first Europeans to come to West Africa were the Portuguese”. Indirect speech is concerned with reporting the words spoken by a speaker e.g. Indirect: He said that the first Europeans to come to West Africa were Portuguese. Direct speech is concerned with the exact words of the speaker and as such we use quotation marks (“”) to mark off the exact words. Direct: Lilian: “What do you want Ellen? Indirect: Lilian asked Ellen what she wanted.

iii. Sentence Pattern: Identification and uses e.g. Simple Pattern He ate his meat She opened the windows. Compound Pattern: He checked round but he could not see him She is very beautiful and doing fine academically. Complex Pattern: When I open the door I saw a little girl.

iv. If I have coins I give to beggars. Phrases and Clauses: e.g. A pretty girl The black bag Round and round A phrase is a group of words without a finite verb which forms part of a sentence. e.g. As a result of his hard work he became very rich.

v. Subject Predicate The subject in the sentence is a word/group of words representing what we speak about. The predicate is a word/group of words often marked off by the verb representing what we say about the subject.

vi. Antonyms and Synonyms
(a) Antonyms are words that are exactly opposite in or nearly opposite in meaning e.g. good-bad, kind-hard hearted, amicable-hostile, temporarily-permanent, transitory- durable, discipline-indiscipline.
(b) Synonyms are words the same in meaning or nearly the same in meaning. Words of appropriate level such as imitation – mimic, busy, engaged, tasteless-inspired, dogmatic- rigid/obstinate energetic-active, timid-fearful, fear less-bold/brave.
i. Idiomatic Expression Idiom is an expression with a meaning that cannot be guessed from the meaning of the individual words e.g. His mother passed away, (died) Examples of idioms should be given by trainees.

ii. Use of Idioms in sentences. He kicked the bucket last week (died). He was beating about the bush evasive). The ex-governor embarked on a white-elephant project (costly and unnecessary)

iii. Types of figures of speech e.g. metaphors, irony, personification, hyperbole, paradox, onomatopoeia, rhetorical question etc.

iv. Use of figures of speech in sentences. Trainees should be able to use given figures of speech in Oral/written forms. They should also be able to identify them whenever they occur.
i. Carefully select comprehension passages of suitable complexity

ii. Selected passages of appropriate level

iii. Carefully designed questions relating to the idea and details in the passages.
8COMPREHENSIONSelected comprehension passages of about 300 words and suitable and appropriate
complexity in which many words have been used to convey different shades of meaning.
9SUMMARYi. Selected passages of suitable level of complexity in which the following ideas can be identified. – key words/expressions – topic sentence – title – main points

ii. Selected passages of suitable level of complexity in which linking words have been used to link the main points together logically and correctly. These should be based on the following texts:
(a) dialogue
(b) narrative
(c) descriptive e.g. matchless shapes, tools etc.
(d) explanation of workshop, practices and processes
(e) explanation of ideas or a sequence of ideas.
10CORRESPONDENCEi. Types of correspondence
A) letters:
(i) Conversational or friendly letters – informal letters
(ii) Social letters e.g. invitations and relies
(iii) Business and commercial letter e.g. letter of enquiry, order, sales and acknowledgement
(iv) Government or official letters
B Advertisements: Print/Electronic Media Differences between the various types should be highlighted.
C Letters on technical subjects such as report writing

ii. Analysis of types of correspondence
a) Letter form
b) Choice or relevant and/interesting materials
c) logical organization of ideas.
d) Use of the appropriate style to the situation.
e) Correctness of structure
f). Use of suitable expressions
g) Use of accurate and suitable vocabulary
h) Accurate use of punctuation marks to give the required effect.
11TYPES OF LETTERSi. Letters format
a) the address
b) the date
c) the direction/recipient’s address
d) salutation
e) heading
f) main body
g) closing

ii. Style:
a) Vocabulary
b) Abbreviations
c) Slang etc.

iii. Letter Writing – The various types :- a) Informal – letters to friends, parents, relatives etc –
b) Semi-formal – letters to a pen friend a senior colleague etc. –
c) Formal e.g. application for job, letters to the press, official letters etc.
12EVALUATION OF CORRESPONDENCEi. Revision on writing correspondence of different types

ii. Sample letters with errors such as vocabulary errors, unwanted phrases and expressions which should be corrected

iii. Letter writing e.g. letters requiring facts, directives protest and letters of appreciation.

iv. dentify phrases and expression to be avoided e.g. with much happiness, it’s the voice of your friend if so doxology… etc

v. Specimen letters to be criticized objectively
13ESSAY WRITING1. Paragraphing
i. Paragraph writing

ii. Explanation of ideas clearly and effectively

iii. Expansion of a sentence into a paragraph

iv. Mechanical skills in writing – punctuation – spelling – paragraphing

V. Descriptive writing with simple objects or actions in a paragraph

vi. Explaining a process in paragraph(s) e.g. the process of Garri making

vii. Giving Directions/Directives in paragraph(s)

2. Essay From Given Ideas
i. Complex sentences for an essay with a given idea

ii. Expansion of points in ideas in (i) to produce a good essay.

3. Essay From Given Topics
i. Outline of an Essay Introduction Main body Conclusion

ii. Arrangement of the outline in sequential order – logical – chronological

iii. Styles of Writing – Formal – Informal

iv. Formal Essay Topics – narrative – descriptive – argumentative – expository topics
14REPORT WRITING1. Meaning of Report:
i. Meaning of Report

ii. Classification of types and their uses e.g. progress reports – recommendation reports – laboratory reports – memorandum

2. Collation Data For Report Writing:
i. Simple on-the-spot observations

ii. Uses of interviews and questionnaires

iii. Use of library for colling information e.g. – gazettes – symbols

3. Presentation of Report:
i. Write a report with simple, familiar and correct words.

ii. Styles of report presentation e.g. abbreviations – symbols – hyphenation of compound words.

iii. Report Layout/Format – heading/title – table of content – introduction – body – conclusion – recommendations – appendix – bibliography

iv. Oral presentation of reports

4. Interpretation of Report:
i. Data Analysis through Diagram
– pie chart
– bar chart

ii. Interpretation and analysis of reports/extracts from a report
15CONSONANTSi. Single Consonants
Initial Medial Final
They – day buzzes – buses boat – both
Ship – chip sopping-sobbing. breathe-breed
Fan – van written – ridden wash – watch
Tuck – duck faces – phases leaf – leave
Card – guard prices – prizes. cup – cub

Initial Final
Play – pray rains – range
Sting – string felt – felled
Scheme – scream sent – send
Crime – climb nest – next
Flue – free ask – axe
Three – tree missed – mixed
16VOWELSi. pure vowels

ii. Diphthongs
Example of contrasts
Seat – sit
Sit – set
Peck – pack
Pack – park
Word – ward
Cheer – chair
Cut – curt
Bird – bed
17STRESSi. word stress
“Increase (noun) increase (verb)
import ” im’port “
rebel ” re’bel “
convict ” con’vict. “
extract ” ex’tract “

ii. Sentence Stress
He went to the town and bought some oranges
Did you ask him?
They ar’rived yesterday.
The man who ‘came.
I’fetched his ‘book

iii. Emphatic Stress The falling pitch illustrated below
is one of the common ways of intruing contract
which is realized partly as a change in pitch within the intonation pattern.
a) He borrowed ‘my newspaper. ( hers )(ie not
b) He borrowed my newspaper. ( did not steal itn. )(Le. he
c) He borrowed my ‘newspaper. ( my book). Le not
d) He borrowed my newspaper. ( someone else) (Le not
18INTONATIONi. Falling Patterns
They arrived today ( )(statement)
“Where did he go? ( (wlt-question)
Come here ( )(command)

ii. Rising Patterns Did he see the ‘Principal?
(Yes/No question)
When the strain arrived ( )(incomplete)
They arrived today >(question)

Recommended NABTEB English Language Textbooks

  1. The New Testament of the Use of English by Joseph Omofomah (AKA Son of Man).
  2. Dandy English
  3. Bamgbose, A. (2002). English Lexis and Structure for Senior Secondary Schools and Colleges (Revised Edition), Ibadan: Heinemann.
  4. Banjo, A. Ayodele, S., and Ndahi, K. S. (1997). Exam Focus: English for WASSCE and SSCE, Ibadan UP Plc.
  5. Caesar, O. J. (2003). Essential Oral English for Schools and Colleges, Lagos: Tonad Publishers Limited.
  6. Egbe, D. I (1996). Mastering English Usage and Communication Skills, Lagos: Tisons.
  7. Nnamonu, S. and Jowitt, D. (1989). Common Errors in English, Lagos: Longman.
  8. Ukwuegbu, C, Okoro, O., Idris, A. U., Okebukola, F. O. and Owokade, C. O. (2002). Catch-up English for SSCE/UME, Ibadan: Heinemann.
  9. Obinna, M. F. (2001). University Matriculation Use of English,(Fourth Edition) Port Harcourt: Sunray Books Limited.
  10. Comprehensive English.

Frequently Asked Questions About NABTEB English Language Exam

How many papers will the NABTEB English Language have?

The exams will have 3 papers. Paper 1 is the objective section, paper 2 is the essay section and paper 3 is the oral test section.

What topics are covered in the English NABTEB syllabus?

The English NABTEB syllabus will cover a range of topics, including comprehension passages, essay writing, grammar rules, punctuation, figures of speech, and literary analysis of prescribed texts.

How can I prepare effectively for the English NABTEB exam?

You can prepare for the exam by studying your syllabus, practising past questions, and time management skills to help you do well in the exam.

Yes, there are recommended textbooks provided by NABTEB that cover the syllabus. You can see all the recommended texts for the English language above.

Can I use a dictionary or other aids during the English NABTEB exam?

No. Candidates are not allowed to use dictionaries or other aids during the English NABTEB exam.

What are the important essay topics or themes to focus on for the English NABTEB exam?

All the topics listed in the syllabus above are important. Do well to study them.

What is the pass mark for the English NABTEB exam?

There is no official pass mark for the English NABTEB exam but we would advise you to try to score higher than 50%

Other Categories


School Syllabus


Primary School


Secondary School

Welcome to We’re on a mission to empower learners of all ages and backgrounds with educational resources they need to succeed academically and professionally

Professional Certification

CIBN Syllabus

CITN Syllabus

CIPM Syllabus

APCON Syllabus



Media Kit


© 2024 Created with Page 5 Digital