By Francis Nwankwor
I wrote JAMB for three years, applied for three different courses, wrote outside my state, experienced both PPT and CBT, I have had missing scripts, disappointed by a promised admission and got admission four years after graduation. I think I am experienced enough to talk about awaiting admission- the drama, the anxiety and pains and accompanied iberiberism.
Aside two subjects in my secondary school, I have never failed any exam until JAMB. I had never repeated any until I met with “the almighty” JAMB Examination. The funniest part is that they wouldn't tell you that you failed, you only realize it, the moment you see yourself purchasing another JAMB form. Some of us were very lucky; they lost no year, for some, it was a 2 -5 years horror movie. Let me share my own part of the story….
Episode one: Fresh from school and WAEC a year ago, I was very confident I would gain admission forthwith, I don't fail exams, I repeat, and Francis never fails exams. Worse to worst, I would score a low mark but still get admitted. So I ran into the exam hall, punched the OMR sheets and bounced out with 198. Yours faithfully had applied for Pharmacy and Biochemistry as second choice. Imagine! It was not even up to the school's initial cut off mark. I almost gave up all hopes until my prayers were answered by the wrong 'god' and they reduced the post UTME cut off mark to 180.I then insisted on Pharmacy/Biochemistry and wrote Post UTME. I went ahead to meet a high ranking officer in the university's admission/ICT unit and he gave me a strong plastic tank sized hope.
When I heard the admission list was out, I logged in the school admission portal, to my dismay, it read 'Admission process in progress, check back later', not again, and it was disheartening. I picked up some courage and I called my so called 'godfather' on phone, he told me to take a chill pill. Second and third came out, I checked, same sick news. I still harboured some honest hopes. I checked with java phone, Symbian, Blackberry, Cyber Café; same story, even went ahead to check a day to their matriculation, envisaging a miracle, it was same as ever, nothing! Brothers, I am now in my last year in the university, I checked yesterday and it still read, 'check back later'.
Episode two: I wiped tears off my bulgy eyes and bought yet another JAMB. At this point, I had become a very active member of most Facebook pages and groups that had anything to do with JAMB, Admission, Post UTME and my school of interest. By this time also, many friends of mine, flooded my news feed with their matriculation pictures-classmates and juniors alike. Most of whom I was far better than during school days. I congratulated them heartily, close tab and checked for a possible miracle, just in case. You know, they may just want to fill up some empty spaces or someone may just make a mistake perhaps, all rubbish.
Due to the time I had spent hoping, I registered late for the next JAMB, there was no space for me to register another “almighty JAMB” in my state. So, I was posted to Abia State. Later on, time for the exams was7 am, Course: Biochemistry, second choice, Industrial Chemistry. Then came the issues of how to locate my examination Centre and be there on time, another issue was where to lay my head. As I was travelling on the eve of the exam date, a benevolent spirit made me to check my credentials. Lo and behold, I was not with my slip. I came out of the bus and got back home to pick up my slip. By the time I was on the road again, it was already 7pm. As I ran back and front, I lamented to myself. I should not be here doing this, I should be in school with my mates. Only if things had turned out better, only if I had read harder, maybe. This time, there would be no next time.
Inside the exam hall, some of us started contributing money to be given to the JAMB invigilator. I am a good boy, I am an altar boy, in the Roman Catholic Church, and so I did not. I wrote as good as I could. This time around, I backed up with plenty of prayers and novenas if you understand. I was smiling after I loaded some extra card for the sole purpose of checking my result. When I checked, my score was 137. Mathematics was missing. I couldn't believe what my Asha200 was showing me at that point. My mind was telling me that I forgot to fill in the subject code for mathematics, what a flop, how could I. How could God have allowed this? How could He allow me to forget both what I had studied and filling in the subject code? Another 365 days at home. Some nice meaning individuals were already giving me the spiritual dimensions to my 'predicament', I was utterly devastated. No need to bother about cut off marks admission officers and post UTMEs this time around. But this was the turning point, I turned my desperation to anger which fueled hard work hence.
However, by this time, I had started working with FIDES Communications, a media house, very busy and earning a big boy salary at my level as an O' level holder. I was living alone. I dipped myself into my work to ease the boredom and difficultness of the 365 waiting days. Again my Facebook news feed kept reminding me of admission and university. Tried chatting a few friends and they would tell you how busy they had become in school, oh… School. So, I spent less time on social media and more on Google and Wikipedia including reading novels, I learnt computer so well. There is this happiness that comes with being usefully engaged. Social Media is yet to offer such happiness.
Episode three: So, I learnt how to drink coffee and read through the night. I was very mean. I studied in the office, in my room, outside our lodge; inside my neighbour's Keke(tricycle) and with a neighbor Ekpereamaka. It was she who made me realize that I can read for five beautiful hours at night and still remain sane the next day. A friend told me of an Application for the exam, I bought this App and read the hell out of it. Another friend also advised me to apply for Industrial Chemistry, a very nice course which has less number of applicants, thus, more chances of admission. I obeyed, anything for the 'Uni'. I registered quite early, because, that was the last I was willing to write. Any further stories and I will religiously and willingly register myself into the Guinness Book of Drop Outs. Hmmm…. I scored 227. Fair enough.
Then came the final post UTME battle. On the eve of the exam again, I heard that for the new CBT technique, we were to answer 20 questions in ten minutes. When I heard, I closed my books and stopped reading. So of all I have been reading, only 20 questions will determine the next 52weeks? I thought. On the exam day, as early as 8am, I was already at a long queue that was about 2km long. We stood under the sun waiting for turns. I finally entered the Exam hall at about 4pm. Thank God for luck, I did not faint, I happened not to be a victim of system failure; I did not forget any pin and my system did not hang. When I heard other candidates recall their odd experiences, I thought of the need to thank God for prayers answered. Comparatively, 45 was not a very bad score for that year. So, when I called the person whom I had told to check my admission status, this time around, I had big hopes that could fill a duplex.
He told me, “Francis, you were not admitted”, I was stunned. How can? Well, it was a joke. I was admitted, Pure and Industrial Chemistry, merit list! No 20.You needed to see me smiling like Calabar crayfish. The joy of victory.
Maybe you are presently in the waiting room like Francis, or possibly your brother, sister or friend is. If you are yet to take the post UTME of your choice University, I have one advice for you: the biggest expo and miracle of passing is studying all the relevant materials, textbooks; apps, past questions. Do not forget to seek advice from lecturers and experienced former Jambites (Like me). A month or two weeks to your exam date, detach yourself completely from unnecessary distractions that would confuse what you have studied, chief among them is Social Media. Unless you are used to night reading and doing that coffee thing, do not! Serious reading from 8-12pm every day is nearly much enough.
And when you have done all these things as good as you can, say some serious, personal prayers. You will need a lot of luck.
And in case you get disappointed, do not feel so disappointed in yourself. Do not settle for the seeming defeat. How? Learn some useful skills. I for example, I am not regretting any of those years of delay. Because I, made useful gains from them. I thank God especially for those delays for I would not have gotten many opportunities as I got then; like writing to you now. At the end, what really matter is what you know. Have a nice day!