How To Answer Questions On TENSES For JAMB & WAEC

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Understanding tenses is crucial for success in English language examinations such as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and West African Examinations Council (WAEC). Tenses form the foundation of effective communication and writing in English. In this article, we will guide you on how to answer questions on tenses in JAMB and WAEC exams. We will explore key concepts, common question types, and provide helpful strategies to excel in this area.

Importance of Tenses

Tenses allow us to express actions or states of being in different time frames. They help convey the exact timing and sequence of events in verbal and written communication. Understanding tenses is essential for effective expression, comprehension, and interpretation of English language texts.

Key Concepts in Tenses

Before delving into question-solving strategies, let’s review some key concepts related to tenses:

1. Present Tenses

  • Present Simple: Used for habitual actions, general truths, and permanent situations.
  • Present Continuous: Used for actions happening at the moment of speaking or temporary situations.

2. Past Tenses

  • Past Simple: Used for completed actions in the past.
  • Past Continuous: Used for actions that were ongoing in the past.
  • Past Perfect: Used for actions that were completed before another past action.

3. Future Tenses

  • Future Simple: Used for actions that will happen in the future.
  • Future Continuous: Used for actions that will be ongoing in the future.
  • Future Perfect: Used for actions that will be completed before a future time.

4. Conditional Tenses

  • Zero Conditional: Used for general truths or facts.
  • First Conditional: Used for real and possible future actions.
  • Second Conditional: Used for hypothetical or imaginary situations.
  • Third Conditional: Used for unreal past actions.

Common Question Types

In JAMB and WAEC exams, questions on tenses can take various forms. Here are some common question types you may encounter:

1. Fill in the Blanks

In this type of question, you are provided with a sentence with a blank space, and you need to select the correct tense to fill in the gap. Pay attention to the context and the time frame indicated in the sentence.

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2. Error Correction

These questions test your ability to identify and correct errors in tenses within a given sentence. Analyze the sentence carefully and identify the incorrect tense. Then, select the option that provides the appropriate correction.

3. Sentence Transformation

You may be asked to transform a sentence from one tense to another while retaining the original meaning. This type of question assesses your understanding of tense usage and your ability to rewrite sentences accurately.

4. Multiple Choice

Multiple-choice questions present a sentence or a passage with an underlined portion. You need to select the option that uses the correct tense to maintain grammatical accuracy and coherence.

Strategies for Answering Tenses Questions

To effectively answer questions on tenses, consider the following strategies:

1. Read the Instructions and Questions Carefully

Before attempting any question, carefully read the instructions to understand the task and the requirements. Pay attention to keywords or phrases that indicate the time frame or the specific tense to be used.

2. Identify the Context

Analyze the context of the sentence or passage. Consider the surrounding words, phrases, or sentences to understand the intended meaning and the appropriate tense to be used. This will help you choose the correct tense or identify errors in tenses.

3. Pay Attention to Signal Words

Signal words or phrases such as “yesterday,” “last week,” “always,” “usually,” or “in the future” provide clues about the required tense. These words indicate specific time frames and can guide your choice of the appropriate tense.

4. Practice Regularly

Regular practice is crucial for mastering tenses. Solve sample questions from past exams, English language textbooks, or online resources. This will familiarize you with different question types and help you develop a better understanding of tense usage.

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5. Review Grammar Rules

Revise the grammar rules related to tenses. Understand the formation, usage, and common exceptions of each tense. Practice constructing sentences using different tenses to reinforce your understanding.


Mastering tenses is essential for success in English language exams like JAMB and WAEC. By understanding key concepts, practicing regularly, and employing effective strategies, you can confidently answer questions on tenses. Remember to read instructions carefully, identify the context, and pay attention to signal words. With consistent practice and a solid understanding of tenses, you will be well-prepared to tackle tense-related questions and achieve excellent results in your exams.

How To Answer Questions On TENSES For JAMB and WAEC
How To Answer Questions On TENSES For JAMB and WAEC


Q1: How can I improve my understanding of tenses?

Improving your understanding of tenses requires regular practice. Solve exercises and sample questions from textbooks, online resources, and past exam papers. Review grammar rules, study the formation and usage of different tenses, and apply them in your speaking and writing.

Q2: Are there any common mistakes to avoid when answering tense questions?

Yes, there are some common mistakes to avoid. Pay attention to subject-verb agreement, correct verb forms, and consistency in tense usage. Be careful with irregular verbs and irregular verb conjugation in different tenses. Review the rules and patterns of each tense to minimize errors.

Q3: How can I remember the different tenses and their usage?

Create a study routine and revise the tenses regularly. Make use of flashcards, mnemonic devices, or visual aids to help memorize the different tenses and their corresponding usage. Practice constructing sentences using different tenses to reinforce your memory.

Q4: Can I use the same tense throughout a passage or essay?

No, it is important to use appropriate tenses to convey the correct meaning and maintain coherence. In narratives or descriptions of past events, use past tenses. In discussing general truths or facts, use present tenses. Use future tenses to express actions that will happen in the future. Pay attention to the time frame and context of each sentence to choose the appropriate tense.

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Q5: Are there any resources available for additional practice?

Yes, there are numerous resources available for additional practice. You can find English language textbooks, online grammar exercises, and sample questions from past JAMB and WAEC exams. Additionally, there are websites and mobile applications that offer interactive quizzes and exercises to enhance your understanding of tenses.

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