The Past, Present and Future of JAMB

Joint Admission Matriculation Board | The Past, present and future of JAMB

The cycle of academics rotates through the secondary education towards tertiary education. Hence, it calls to question the quality of teaching practiced in secondary schools when students’ knowledge balance is gauged through a thorough and exhaustive evaluation and examination. However, the public, parents, legislature and stakeholders are on the watch-out on the performances of their wards and children.

JAMB is the yardstick to measure performance and ensure excellence in education in Nigeria.

This intermediary examination is made possible by a body known as Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB). This is saddled with the responsibility of examining students who are about to or wish to enter into universities and other higher or tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria.

In order to attain the goals and objectives of the National policies of Education, it is therefore, absolutely pertinent to see to it that only qualified candidates are granted admission into available vacancies for course studies in the various universities and higher or tertiary institutions of learning. Hitherto 1978, the discrepancies inherent in the university admissions system and its attendant challenges amounted to the enactment of the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) through Act No 2 of 1978, to conduct selection examinations into Nigerian Universities and other tertiary institutions of learning.

From the emergence of the Board, it has exerted several frantic efforts to give the tertiary education admission processes in Nigeria an optimum credence. These efforts have positively enhanced the perception of the public, candidates, parents and the Board’s governing council. These efforts, including a few others recently resulted to the strict scrutiny of the post‐selection examination which was presented or showcased.

This article seeks to reconcile JAMB ’s past with the present, and also appreciate the present and envisage future efforts and modalities for greater innovations. How it impacts on the universities and other tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria.

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JAMB | The Past

It was the vision of the Vice-Chancellors of the then six (6) Universities who introduced the idea of synergy of their mandate in the areas of entrance examination and admission into the few universities that the Nation had. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who as Head of State in 1977 promulgated the enabling law of the Board that gave birth to the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board by Act No 2 of 1978, to conduct selection examinations into Nigerian Universities and other tertiary institutions of learning. Though, a lot of water had passed under the bridge since 1977.

We shall look at those very significant milestones that were attained and their evolution in the following areas:

Mode of Application

The mode of application here refers to the method (electronically or manually) by which candidates used to request for admission through JAMB.


The mode of application or registration of candidates used to be manually done. Here, candidates would travel to very long distant   JAMB offices across the nation to queue up to purchase these forms. On collection of these forms, candidates are expected to fill them up and still queue up to return immediately, having made available items required of them. Where an individual forgets an item, he or she must travel back to obtain it.


The mode of application afterwards evolved to the use of the electronics and internet. This evolved method is otherwise known as e-registration method. Candidates did not have to queue up any longer. Candidates could stay wherever they please to apply for admissions through JAMB by using the computers and internet. This drastically minimized cost (transportation and feeding cost) of candidates traveling long distance and has ensued accuracy and reliability of information.

Method of Examination

The method of examination here refers to the kind of examination (electronic or manual) that was adopted to examine candidates.

It happens that the manual method was adopted such as the use of OMR (Optical Mark Reader). The OMR was often used for data capturing which made it easier then. Candidates would be given four OMR sheets for four different courses or subjects. Candidates were expected to answer questions by ticking the appropriate option on OMR sheet. Afterwards, a single sheet of OMR where all four courses proposed to be written by candidates were compressed into one single sheet was introduced to candidates.

Examination Procedure

This explains the many ways and processes that the conduct of examination underwent, ranging from packaging and delivery of examination documents and materials to allocation of examination centres and supervision.

Packaging of Examination Documents and Materials

Examination documents and materials were usually packaged with cartons which were paper-like or you could say paper bags. However, this was a very loose measure of packaging as it was highly prone to pilfering and pre-examination malpractice and so, considering this lapse, the style of packaging evolved to the adoption of metal boxes for the packaging of examination documents and materials. This proved sophisticated as the measure that was taken to safe guard it was well designed to forestall any unforeseen circumstance of tampering and destruction of examination documents and materials due to the rains or in transit and accident.

More so, having realized how heavy and bulky the metal boxes were and how onerous the task was for whoever handled examination materials, the entire packaging style evolved to the adoption of the use of security bags. The use of security bags was a lot more easier for storage and mobility.

Allocation of Examination Centres

The practice at this time was that whenever candidates wish to know their examination registration number and their examination locations and centres they did that manually. This practice was vulnerable to misplacement of information or allotting wrong examination numbers and centres. Later on, it was made possible to check examination number or centres through the use of internet services which has enabled UME(Universities Matriculation Examination) or MPCEME (Monotechnics, Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education Matriculation Examination) candidates to check their examination number or centres through the internet.


During examinations, open ended script were usually distributed to candidates in the examination hall, which made it possible for such question sheets to be exchanged or transferred among candidates during the examination in the examination hall. Having observed this weakness of this method, it was then resolved to rather customize answer script, question booklets by allotting different types to each examination booklet. Example Use of English could have types A, B, C, D, E e.t.c these types imply that each booklet on a course has a totally different question. This stemmed the ugly trend of malpractice.

In the past, examination documents had no provision for an appendage of image of candidates. This seemed as though it was handled with gloves as it was very vulnerable to gross examination misconduct such as impersonation. The emergence of image capturing and integration into the examination documents and materials which is the engrossment of candidates’ passport size photograph in the attendance register and examination circular, made supervision somewhat easy. This has drastically abated incidences of gross examination misconduct such as impersonation.

Checking of Results and Duration of the Release of Results

In checking results, one would rather wait to receive mail posts from JAMB after marking is done and successful candidates determined. This usually takes longer than necessary. The duration used to take 4 months and probably more or worse still the examination results might as well get lost in transit thereby dashing the hopes of candidates who wrote the examination and ruining their chances of being admitted into universities or other higher institutions of learning.

Thereafter, when online services were introduced, the long duration of months was trimmed to weeks; and weeks turned to days. The entire system evolved and was made flexible whereby admission letters could be printed and courses registered or applied for could be changed.

Qualification for the Examination

In the past, it took candidates to have the required grades such as A, B, and C in their chosen subjects in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination and National Examination Council (NECO) examination, to stand eligible for JAMB examinations. Though, JAMB also made provisions for candidates awaiting their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) or General Certificate Examination (GCE). It made it possible for candidates to kill two birds with one stone; that is, writing their SSCE and JAMB examinations all in the same year.

Examination Schedule or Period

The set period of JAMB examination used to be by the month of June. By this time, candidates would have finished writing the first examination (WAEC) which usually came up early by March; while anticipating another examination (NECO) which is usually written weeks or a month after JAMB examinations.

Validity of JAMB Examination Result

The validity of JAMB result was within the period of one year. In other words, JAMB result used to have one year expiry period. After that particular year the examination is written, and a candidate does not make it; might be due to failure in the examination, or circumstances that might have led to ones inability to break through in the examination; such candidate would be advised to purchase JAMB scratch cards and register or apply for the examination for another year, thereby rendering the previous registration or application invalid and expired.

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The Present JAMB

The present practice of JAMB has an impact in the admission process into universities and other tertiary or higher institutions of learning. Some of these current practices exercised, have immensely given JAMB a face lift and accolades; and have improved the condition of admission and bridged the gap between universities and candidates seeking admission.

JAMB has earned its rightful place as a giver of admission and not universities which fed fat from the pockets of poor and rich candidates alike, through charges levied on them, all in the name of “University Aptitude test”. In examining JAMB’s current impact, we shall use the following indices:

Mode of Application

The mode of application for JAMB, has evolved to an electronically based method, since online services were introduced, it has been sustained and improved thereupon. The use of internet is the current practice for registration and applications, collection of JAMB examination result as well as change of course).

  • Eligible candidates are required to first of all visit JAMB’s website.
  • Open or create a profile and print out the sheet bearing the profile.
  • Visit the JAMB prescribed banks to purchase registration pins for a fee.
  • At the bank, you shall present your printed profile in order to be able to purchase the pin.
  • Having purchased the pin, candidates are expected to go back to JAMB site and register.
  • You shall obtain information about when and where you are to write the examination.

Method of Examination

The method of examination here, seeks to make known which type of examination such as manual (PPT) Paper Pencil Test or (CBT) Computer Based Test that has been adopted in this present time. The method of examination has evolved from the usual OMR-PPT examination to a more efficient and credible system of examination known as CBT.

More so, in the CBT, computers as well as internet are used to administer the examination. Candidates answer questions directly into computers and submitted through the internet.

Examination Procedure and Supervision

Here, there are no physical handling of question papers and answer booklets, as every examination document and materials required have been digitalized. Everything is customized to suit the examinations; ranging from image capturing, thumb printing, as well as surveillance cameras are all put in place to forestall pilfering, malpractice and other forms of gross misconduct.

However, despite the digitalized system of examination procedure and supervision; supervisors and other security agents ensure that candidates exhibit discipline and adhere to the standards of examination.

Validity of Examination Result

With the repeal of Act no. 2 of 1977, in 2015 by the Nigerian National Assembly; JAMB ceased from having one year period validity for results. This was seen as delaying candidates and sucking up the resources of candidates. JAMB examination results now have a validity period of 3 years. This system is now quite flexible and not as rigid as it used to be.

Examination Schedule or Period

Myriad of candidates who apply for the JAMB examination are those who are also writing their Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).

These candidates sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) usually needed in March and April when they are yet to complete the syllabus of the public examinations. This, to a large extent contributes to the poor performance of the candidates in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

This time around, JAMB has ensured that the Board’s examinations are scheduled in such a manner that candidates who applied are to be prepared and well equipped for the highly revered examinations: the JAMB (UTME) and SSCE (WAEC and NECO).

This is made successful or possible through the liaison of JAMB and its fellow or other examination bodies and made certain adjustments in the timetables. This is aimed not only to help candidates get prepared adequately, but to also prevent clash in examination schedules.

Qualification for Examination

In the past, it took candidates to have the required grades such as A, B, and C in their chosen subjects in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO), to stand eligible for JAMB UTME examinations. Though, JAMB also made provisions for candidates awaiting their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) or General Certificate Examination (GCE). It made it possible for candidates to kill two birds with one stone; that is, writing their SSCE and JAMB UTME examinations all in the same year.

Well, today the same is almost the case, but so much has been added to improve the system. It takes more than just having the required grades to be qualified for JAMB examinations. Rather it takes the accumulation of a candidate’s quality points accrued from those grades obtained from WAEC and NECO. These points as well as points obtained from the Board’s examination determine whether or not a candidate is qualified.

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Projected Future of JAMB and Recommendations

The projected future of JAMB shall come in form of recommendations. The following areas are hereby deemed fit to beam search light on:

Duration for the release of results

Having surveyed the opinion of candidates, it is quite popular among them that results still take at least up to week. It is the thought of everyone that due to the digitalization and automation of examination and its processes that the duration of results should not take such a time rather the release of results should be real time. That is, as soon as a candidate clicks submit when he or she is done, there should be provisions for one to print his or her results instantly. This would make the fate of candidates to determined as quick as possible.

Increase in computer examination centres

Given the large size of enrollment of candidates in the Board’s examination, it has become needful to have already made and customized built CBT centres for the purpose of examination. Buildings can be erected in few areas where it is speculated to have dire need of centres to supplement the already existing ones. Candidates usually find it difficult and frustrating when they go to write their examinations but realize that even the venue allotted them is little (small in size).

Improve network quality

These buildings should be carried out by experts who have ICT knowledge. Students usually find it very rough and also demoralizing when candidates are truncated because of poor internet network only to be asked to wait for another set that shall write the examination.


These already made and customized centres shall not just serve the purpose of containing large crowd in it, but certain electronic surveillance devices, microchips, voice prompts and many more technological innovations can be initiated and must be installed to make the examination seamless to write and supervise.  


Conclusively, the grand objectives are to reconcile JAMB’s past with the present, and also appreciate the present and envisage future efforts and modalities for greater innovations and how it impacts on the universities and other higher or tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria.

It is at a time like this when education plays a pivotal role in economic development of Nigeria and intellectual development of individuals that the knots of quality, efficiency and effectiveness have to be tied around the education sector or better still the admission processes into higher institutions of learning.

It is not enough for politically exposed persons to visit examination centres with sirens and large entourage of government functionaries with very little impact to show for their participation, other than to be under television camera lights and beamed same to the whole world but yet, the outcome of the examination is laced with stories of examination malpractice. This time around, the major players with requisite integrity, intelligence and appropriate knowledge of the assessment are hereby encouraged to be engaged and actively participate in the supervision of the examination.

As stated in the recommendations, there are still many stones that are left untouched. All hands are required to be on deck to make things work for the better in the academic sector. The storm has to be calm for a captain of a ship to be seen as good. The grey areas need to be ironed out for the entire system to be made perfect.

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