WAEC Verified Syllabus for Literature in English 2023

WAEC Syllabus for Literature in English: A Comprehensive Guide to Examination Preparation, Studying Literature in English is an indispensable component of your exam preparation.

In addition, it serves as a crucial guide, outlining the essential topics you need to cover.

Moreover, it provides valuable notes on key concepts that require your attention. Just as agricultural tools are essential for a fruitful farming experience, Literature in English acts as an indispensable tool for successful exam performance.


The WAEC Syllabus for Literature in English serves as a fundamental resource for students intending to sit for the examination. This comprehensive guide outlines the aims and objectives, key notes, and examination format to aid students in their preparation.

Furthermore, understanding this syllabus will empower candidates with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the Literature in English examination. Let’s explore the syllabus in detail.

What is WAEC Syllabus?

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is an examination body responsible for conducting secondary school examinations in West African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia. The WAEC syllabus refers to the prescribed topics and content that students are expected to study in preparation for the WAEC examinations.

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Section 1: Aims and Objectives

  1. To develop a deep appreciation and understanding of various literary genres, including drama, poetry, and prose.
  2. To encourage critical thinking and analytical skills while engaging with literary texts.
  3. To foster creativity, effective communication, and expression of ideas through the written word.
  4. To cultivate an awareness of the cultural, social, and historical contexts that shape literary works.
  5. To enhance linguistic competence, vocabulary, and language proficiency through literary analysis.

Section 2: Notes

Candidates should focus on the following key areas:

2.1. Prose:

  • Analysis of plot, setting, characterization, themes, and style in prescribed novels and short stories.
  • Interpretation of literary techniques employed by authors.
  • Identification and evaluation of social, cultural, and historical contexts within the texts.

2.2. Drama:

  • In-depth study of prescribed plays, exploring themes, character development, and dramatic techniques.
  • Examination of stagecraft, dramatic structure, and the interplay between dialogue and action.
  • Analysis of the social, political, and cultural dimensions reflected in the prescribed plays.

2.3. Poetry:

  • Analysis and interpretation of prescribed poems, focusing on themes, imagery, style, and poetic devices.
  • Appreciation of various poetic forms, including sonnets, ballads, and free verse.
  • Understanding the historical, cultural, and contextual elements influencing the poets’ works.

2.4. Oral Literature

  • Examination of traditional oral literature, including folktales, myths, legends, and proverbs.
  • Exploration of the themes, cultural values, and beliefs conveyed through oral texts.
  • Analysis of the linguistic and stylistic features of oral literature.

Section 3: Examination Format

Furthermore, the Literature in English examination consists of two papers:

3.1. Paper 1: Objective Test

  • Multiple-choice questions covering the prescribed texts and general literary knowledge.
  • Assessing candidates’ understanding of literary terms, techniques, and critical interpretation.

3.2. Paper 2: Essay Questions

  • Candidates choose essay questions from various sections, demonstrating their comprehension, analysis, and critical evaluation of the prescribed texts.
  • In-depth responses incorporating relevant quotations, literary devices, and evidence to support arguments.

Scheme of Examination

There will be three papers – Papers 1, 2 and 3. Papers 1 and 2 will be a composite paper and taken at one sitting.

Paper 1 will be a multiple choice objective test. It will contain fifty questions distributed as follows:

  • Twenty questions on General Knowledge of Literature;
  • Five questions on an unseen prose passage;
  • Five questions on an unseen poem;
  • Twenty context questions on the prescribed Shakespearean text.

Candidates will be required to answer all the questions within 1 hour for 50 marks.

Paper 2 will be an essay test with two sections, Sections A and B. Section A will be on African Prose and Section B on Non-African Prose.

Lastly, two essay questions will be set on each of the novels prescribed for study. Candidates shall be required to answer one question only from each section within 1 hour 15 minutes for 50 marks.

Paper 3 will be on the Drama and Poetry components of the syllabus. It will be put into  four sections, Sections A, B. C and D as follows:

  • Section A:  African Drama
  • Section B:  Non-African Drama
  • Section C:  African Poetry
  • Section D:  Non-African Poetry

Furthermore, there shall be two questions on each of the prescribed drama texts for Sections A and B. There shall also be two questions for each of the poetry sections ie Sections C and D.


(i)  The Unseen Prose passage for Paper 1 shall be about 120 – 150 words long.

(ii) Only context questions shall be set on the Shakespearean text. The context questions will test such items as theme, characterization, style and setting in the Shakespearean text.

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(iii) No essay question shall be set on the Shakespearean text.

SET TEXTS FOR 2016 – 2022

African Prose

  • Amma Darko – Faceless
  • BayoAdebowale – Lonely Days

Non-African Prose

  • Richard Wright – Native Son
  • Patience Swift – The Last Goodman

*William ShakespeareOTHELLO

Non-African Drama

  • Oliver Goldsmith – She Stoops to conquer
  • Lorraine Hansberry – A Raisin in the Sun

African Drama

  • Frank Ogodo Ogbeche   – Harvest of Corruption
  • Dele Charley – The Blood of a Stranger

African Poetry

  • Birago Drop – Vanity
  • GbemisolaAdeoti – Ambush
  • Gabriel Okara            – Piano and Drums
  • Gbanabam Hallowell            – The Dinning Table
  • Lenrie Peter – The Panic of Growing Older
  • Kofi Awoonor – The Anvil and the Hammer

Non-African Poetry

  • Alfred Tennyson – Crossing the Bar
  • George Herbert – The pulley
  • William Blake – The School Boy
  • William Morris – The Proud King
  • Robert Frost Birches – Birches
  • William Shakespeare – Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day?

Let me know if you have any questions or need further clarification. I would love to assist you.

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The WAEC Syllabus for Literature in English provides a comprehensive framework for examination preparation. By thoroughly studying the prescribed texts, developing critical thinking skills, and exploring the cultural contexts of literary works, candidates can approach the examination with confidence.

In addition, this syllabus serves as a valuable tool to guide students on their journey towards success in the Literature in English examination.


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