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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume VI, Issue VIII, August 2022 | ISSN 2454–6186

Investigating Why Senior High School Candidates Perform Poorly in the Essay Writing component of The English Language Paper at the WASSCE, Ghana.

Samuel Badu1*, Daniel Yaw Acheampong2, Frank Yeboah-Obeng3
1Department of English, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
2Department of Special Needs Education, University of Oslo, Oslo Norway, Ghana
3Department of Educational Research, University of Oslo, Norway, Ghana
*Corresponding Author

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: This quantitative survey case study of some selected schools in two school districts in Ghana investigates why many WASSCE candidates do not do well in composition writing, an aspect of the English language paper, at the senior high school level. The study found that insufficient time allocated to the teaching of composition, the inability of teachers to mark students’ exercises and guide them through the necessary corrections and interventions, the trend of large classes’ size were key factors for the poor performance of students at the WASSCE. The studies further found the overburdened extra- curricular activities which made it difficult for teachers to complete their schemes of work, as part of the problem. Additionally, high level of apathy among students in reading books and writing of compositions, coupled with inadequate reading materials were the other factors. The conclusion drawn from this study is that when teaching and learning processes are given strong commitments by teachers and students, and if there is application of appropriate methodology and sufficient time allocation to this subject area, the performance of students in English composition writing will be enhanced.

Keywords: English Language, Senior High school, Students’ learning outcomes, West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations


Language, the very essence of our humanity, is also an important and effective tool for both social interactions and communications. Whether as individuals or members of a social group, our ability to function effectively depends primarily on our language skills – especially communication.
The word language comes from the Latin word Lingua which means tongue (Kari Darko, et al). All creatures communicate, but only humans communicate with language. It is language, more than anything, which distinguishes us from other species. Without language, we would not be human; we would not have been able to create human society, we would live isolated as roaming predators forced to rely on our own experience and not have any sense of who we are – no sense of history, no sense of anything to come (Kari Darko, p.9). Without language we will not be able to express our wishes.