Steps to Prepare Adequately for JAMB UTME

jamb study

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Examinations for candidates seeking admission into the university have since posed serious challenges to some students. JAMB has gradually become one of the most feared names in the education sector of Nigeria and preparing for the examination is something that demands a lot of time, commitment, discipline, and hard work.

There’s hardly anyone who performs outstandingly in JAMB or any other thing worthwhile without putting together these three things.

Let us discuss eight straightforward steps you can take to prepare yourself adequately for JAMB. As easy to mention as these steps are, in reality, the simplicity ends there. In practice, they are difficult but very practical steps that every outstanding student has practiced in the past on their way to overcoming JAMB. These preparatory steps are all you need to smash JAMB. So, let’s dive in!

Step 1: Ensure you know the JAMB score you need and decide on the score you want.

You must make sure you find out the average score you need in JAMB with your subject combination to nail your desired course in the institution you want.

This average score can be deduced from the minimum normal cut-off mark for JAMB that will qualify you for post-UTME for that course and in the institution. This desired score must also take into account the departmental cut-off marks set by the institution that will qualify you for admission by merit. As you read this now, make your research and write that average score down. This will help you know the minimum mark you should work towards.

After you must have done that, the next thing is to decide on the score you want. The score you want should be different from what you need to gain admission it should be higher. The problem for many students is that they don’t even know the score they need to talk less about the score they should want to work towards while preparing for JAMB. This is where they fail the number one rule of high-level achievement which is first setting a clear goal.

These students after writing JAMB then begin to make their research after which they now start praying to God to give them that score. God does not bless those kinds of efforts. Some students still do not even find out the needed score or cut-off mark until their result is out. Understandably, sometimes JAMB and various schools change their cut-off marks perhaps, depending on the general performance of students but you can always make a safe assumption to work with from previous cut-off marks.

Setting a higher target is a principle in line with the saying that goes: “you should shoot for the stars, for you never know, you may land on the moon”. When you set a high and reasonable target (what we mean by reasonable is achievable; some students set targets of ‘398’ which is quite unreasonable), you’ll push yourself hard enough towards that target.

A target above 300 is high enough to spur you to action. Once you have fixed your target score, distribute it to your four subjects according to your strengths. See an example below:

My Target Score For JAMB: 315

Use of English: 75
Mathematics: 80
Physics: 85
Chemistry: 75

Step 2: Create a study plan and reading timetable

It is one thing to set a target and it’s another thing to map out a plan to implement and reach it. I will get 315 in JAMB is easier said than done. A study plan is therefore an organized schedule that a student creates that outlines study time and learning goals. Creating a study plan and a reading timetable not only helps you become more organized, but it holds you accountable for your learning outcomes and the achievement of your goal or target.

Every student will develop a different study plan; there is no correct study plan for everyone. When creating your personalized study plan, you will need to do some self-evaluation of your current schedule and time management. Find days when you have fewer personal commitments and when you can squeeze in more study time – while doing this, remember that you need to put in as much time as you desire to see results.

Remember, each student studies differently, so the amount of time you need to study will differ from the time others devote to studying. Also, some students find that studying at night or in the early hours of the morning is better for them than during the day. Work according to your system. What matters is consistency!

Determine why you are studying – which in this case is to reach a JAMB score target – and develop a plan that can help you achieve your goal. Take into consideration previous performances (that is if you have written JAMB before) and how you prepared on those occasions. You need to also anticipate subjects that will take more time to prepare for than the others.

Lastly, create a reasonable study plan. Although you must set aside enough time in your schedule dedicated to your studies, blocking off five hours with no break will set you up for failure. You can spend less time studying if you do it correctly. For a detailed look at how to make a personalized study plan, explore the step-by-step instructions for creating your study plan below:

1. Create a time chart of your current activities:

Creating a time chart will allow you to see how you spend your time from day to day. Take notes about your daily activities. Record things like when you wake up, sleep, do chores, work, go out, and if you’re in school, how much time you spend in school daily.

Once you have done this, check for free time available for studying and it should be up to at least three hours especially as JAMB is fast approaching, if not you will need to re-organize your daily activities and create more time for studying. If you need to eliminate some activities or politely ask for permission from your parents to relieve you of some household chores while you prepare, please do so.

2. Develop a schedule and reading timetable:

Now that you have determined available days and times for studying, the next thing is to develop a schedule. It is best to have a schedule written down, so you won’t forget it. Seeing it written down can make it seem more important.

You need to know subjects that will require more time to study, especially if they are your weak points. Your schedule and reading timetable will highly depend on the amount of time you have left. If you are reading this and you have maybe three months left, then maybe you will need to put in more than five hours daily for work. Please be sincere with yourself here and put in as much time as necessary.

One hour a day is simply self-deception and will lead you nowhere. Let your plan be very definite; for example, if you have 30 chapters of a textbook to study and 15 years of JAMB past questions to tackle and you need to finish it in a month, then you may need to read a chapter a day and solve 1 year of past questions every two days. Remember to have breaks in between long hours of study to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

3. Stick to your study plan:

A study plan works best if it is followed with consistency. Some days may not go according to plan, but it should always be for reasons beyond your control. Otherwise, you need to be disciplined enough and constantly remind yourself that your future and the future of others depend on you or that will depend on yourself in the future at stake.

Again, stick to your plan. You can use incentives such as eating after you’ve been able to read for three hours without getting up from your chair (make sure you don’t read while starving; it hardly works). You may also need to deprive yourself of some sleep at night because you can easily regain lost sleep after JAMB (don’t overdo this one because sleep is also very vital).

Lastly, some students find it helpful to find a study partner. Studying with a friend also preparing for JAMB allows for collaboration and discussion. When creating your study plan, check with other friends to determine if you can coordinate study sessions. However, if you tend to socialize more than study when you are around others, stick to an independent study plan. If you do choose to study with a partner, choose someone with whom you are likely to stay on task.

Step 3: Start your reading now.

If you’re in SS 1 or 2 and you are reading this article now, then you are very fortunate. It is very advisable that you create a plan, even if it is thirty minutes daily for JAMB, and start as soon as possible. If you do this and follow through, you will be smiling when others are breaking their heads trying to prepare months before the exam.

If you are months away from the exam, don’t panic because you still have a very good chance. However, you must begin now to study with a working plan as we have described in step two. If you have just a few weeks left, then what you need to do is to start this very moment to focus on going through as many credible past questions as you can and revise your exam-focus textbooks. The bottom line here is to start this very moment. Don’t procrastinate!

Step 4: Go through at least ten recent years of past questions to get patterns.

To study effectively, you need to know the patterns used by JAMB to set questions. First and foremost, we all know that JAMB questions are usually objective and the way you read for objective-type questions is not the same way you read for theory or subjective type.

Even though it’s easier to prepare for the objective than the others because you can always easily infer the answer from the given options, you still need to know the common patterns they use to set their questions. For instance, if for the past ten or so years, they have set more questions involving calculation than theory in a subject like Physics or Chemistry, this will give you a clue as to where more of your focus should be.

From some computer analysis of past questions, it has been discovered that in Mathematics, questions on geometry, trigonometry, statistics, matrices, and differentiation occur more often. Also in the English Language, questions on lexis and structure top the list. In Chemistry, questions on organic compounds tend to always top the list. More popular topics like this can be figured out for other subjects when you study the past questions.

Step 5: Use exam focus textbooks to study according to the syllabus.

This step is also very important to take note of because so many students’ study haphazardly. Some students give excuses such as: “JAMB syllabus is just too big, I’m not sure they set everything”, but that’s a big lie. Every exam has a focus; there are always things the examiners expect and assume that if you know, then you must know some other things related to it. For instance, if you know how to cook stew, then you must at least know what tomatoes, pepper, and other such ingredients are.

An examiner then just needs to ask you to describe how stew is cooked and he has asked several questions altogether in one. After all, it’s just forty questions they set per subject apart from the English language where they set sixty questions. Using exam focus textbooks (there are a lot of good ones) study with your results from the research on the patterns they have used in past questions according to the JAMB syllabus. That is the rule in one sentence.

Step 6: Solve at least twenty years of past questions yourself at least twice.

Of course, this will require time but if you can do this after studying according to their syllabus even more than twice, you will not regret it. Remember, as has been said earlier, your study plan all depends on how much time you have left on the examination day and how much time you are willing to give on each of those remaining days to adequate study. JAMB has been conducting this examination since the 1970s and they should have run out of questions by now; all they can mostly do is keep rearranging and slightly modifying past questions to make them look new.

The problem with many candidates is that they study about five recent years of past questions and they are satisfied. You hold the key to success in your own hands. Use credible past questions for this and try to do your research using your textbooks on the questions you are not sure about. Always try to make sure you understand the answers to the questions.

Step 7: Practice at least one timed test daily for two weeks before the exam.

What we mean by a timed test is a test that is to the real JAMB exam in which you will give yourself the amount of time JAMB usually gives or less if you want to work on your speed. At least two weeks before the exam (if possible, more than that), begin practicing these timed CBT tests after which you will see your score and assess your performance. This is where a JAMB CBT practice platform or application will be helpful. This will help you work on your speed and accuracy before the real exam situation arrives.

Pick a previous year and solve the JAMB past questions for that year for your four subjects based on your JAMB subject combination (or you can mix different years) according to a time limit similar to the two hours JAMB gives in the real exam. It should be preferably years you have not gone through in step 6.

Step 8: Mentally write the exam before the main exam.

Many people usually do not like these kinds of steps especially if they are very practical people because it sounds weird and fairy-tale-like. But playing the scene of the exam in your mind, seeing yourself going into the exam center confident and well-prepared as well as seeing yourself coming out happy and satisfied with how well you answered the questions helps you develop confidence and deal with tension as the exams approach.

On each occasion you do this, the best method is to find a quiet place, preferably a place you can stay in a lying position without sleeping. Close your eyes and begin to act the whole experience the way you want on the exam day from entering the exam center to collecting the papers, writing the exams, and leaving the center after the exams. Play it in your mind while taking slow deep breaths until you begin to feel calm. This is an optional step as it is purely for the psychological benefits of prepping your mind to calmly handle the exam when it eventually arrives.

Additional Tips:

1. Prepare very adequately for the Use of English paper.

The Use of English paper is one paper that you can finish in the shortest possible time and that is not the only advantage. Another reason you should get very much ready for Use of English is that JAMB tends to apportion more marks for their English questions. Use of English can be very simple when you have prepared, making it an easy and fast place to bag good marks if you know what you are doing. Again, you need to prepare adequately for it and master its rules.

2. Learn to read primarily to learn and acquire in-depth knowledge.

Reading just to pass an examination and get a good score is one of the greatest killers of a student’s potential. Even though wanting to pass JAMB and score high so that you gain admission into the university is a good goal, it is not a good enough reason to read especially if you want to maximize your potential and do very well in your future career.

When you read with the primary aim of learning something new and acquiring new knowledge, you will discover that you will start developing more interest in what you are reading, and ‘interest’ is one of the things that can strengthen the chemical links and bonds between the neural traces of that subject in your brain. Memories are just neural traces in the brain that get stronger and become easier to remember with the application of interest, strong emotion, repetition, and revision. The bottom line is that you have to form the habit of carrying out your study with as much interest, curiosity, zeal, and enthusiasm as you can muster. This will enable you to learn and understand what you study deeply.


1. JAMB Subject Combinations

2. JAMB Syllabus for All Subjects

3. Steps to Answer JAMB Questions

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