Over eight years ago, I found myself in the shoes you are wearing today. More accurately, I was wearing Converse sneakers. They were the coolest thing at the time. I had gone through the motions you have just finished working yourselves through.
The over eight hours we spent in class was not enough so teachers fleeced our last pennies under the guise of “extra classes”. We had no choice but to pay or face the cold pang of their canes early in the morning at the assembling grounds. A few months to the ominously nicknamed D-Day, we had to go overtime on an overtime and spend more hours into the dark of the night poring over notes and chatting about non-school matters.
Past questions were the Whatsapp and Facebook of our time. We literally faced those books for hours because we had been told our futures depended on it. Every teacher who passed through our class hammered this point home. We either passed the BECE or risked everything in life.
Passing that exam was painted as a herculean task and it indeed was/is. We had to memorize three years’ worth of information in a very short space. Ammonia gas we were told had a “choky pungent smell” but few of us had actually smelt it. Those in privileged schools got to see with their eyes, the chemical reaction which produced this gas. The rest were told the smell and gas from the dilapidated urinal in their neighborhoods and school was the closest thing to Ammonia gas. These were the ones who could only identify a Bunsen burner and a beaker from a one dimensional diagram on a paper and not in real life.
Previous takers of the exams told us passing did not depend on the amount of work we inputted. The IS (international schools) and Montessori schools were always going to have an edge over us. They had the apor and the key was to get access to their mock papers. Answers to the real exams we were told could be found verbatim on these mock papers. So we scavenged the city for these papers. We collected and cross checked for coinciding questions. No chances had to be taken.
All this was done out of fear. Fear of failing what we were told was the first real challenge of our nascent lives. The exams were a big deal and failure was not an option. When the results are released, neighbors pry into your business. They demand to know what you had so putting the family to shame was not an option.
It just occurred to me, you will probably never read this. You are currently inundated with so much to chew, this plenty talk would not find its way anywhere near the top 50 things to read right now. Even if you had the time, you would not. Heck, you do have the time, you are probably torn between Snapchat and Aki Ola right now. The world is getting live broadcast of your “current situation”.
But if you do happen to be the reading type, you know the ones who read the Goosebumps or Harry Potter series, then skimming through this should take a few minutes.
Forget what they told you. Forget everything!!! BECE just like any other exam you have already taken demands preparation. If you have not been the mediocre type then you know excellence comes with extra hard work. That holds same for BECE. The scaremongering tactics of your teachers is quite injurious to your academic success. It only gets you unnecessarily tensed up for something which should not be different from what you have already been doing at the end of every term.
Some schools might actually have access to Apor but please do not go chasing after them. The time and energy you spend looking for these questions could have been used in actually learning for the exam. But even if you get them, do not forget that some of these schools are so well off, they possess the means to pay off those marking the papers. That might all be rumor but we know very well that in this country, nothing can be dismissed without any serious consideration of the allegations.
Maybe all this is a tad too late. You are already in the midst of what you have been told is the biggest BATTLE of your life so far so all your arsenals are pointing towards the papers you will be sweating over. But if you can add a thing or two to your worry list right now, do know that life is certainly more than passing exams.
Your three years in Junior High most likely revolved entirely around your books and moving onto the next level of your education. That is the start of an unfulfilled school life. Most of the things you have learnt over the past three years will be forgotten after your Ghanaian Language paper. But guess what you would not forget? The skills you acquire outside of the classroom.
Our studying by rote method would not be enough to help you survive the world out there. It is the leadership skills you pick from running for some student office, the rhetoric skills from the debate club, and team working capacities from playing a sport that would help you stand out.
You might have no clue what I am talking about and that bears testament to the inadequacy of the education you have had thus far. But the essence of it all will dawn on you soon enough. Before it does, make sure you cart for yourself, the type of education which leaves you well rounded for the kind of holes which needs to be filled in the world out there.
For now, work through all the past questions you have access to and pray for grace to help you dream of the questions.