What you need to know about alternative to practicals

Alternative to practical is a practical examination option for students who are offering subjects that features a practical examination session. Be it in NECO, NABTEB, or WAEC alternative-to-practical.

The alternative to practical feature is one that lessens the burden on certain schools that cannot afford to have a standard laboratory, or a working laboratory for different subjects, among other reasons.

alternative to practicals apparatus

The reasons for alternative to practicals

  1. Lack of laboratories: this pattern of examination is a common one in schools in rural areas, where laboratories is a rare sight. So, instead of struggling to borrow apparatus or trying to convey students to a location or exam centre that has a working laboratory.
  2. Ill-equipped laboratories: There is no difference between having an ill-equipped laboratory and no laboratory. When students have a laboratory that is not well equipped, they may not have the necessary knowledge on how to run practicals to get accurate results. This issue can affect all or some of the subjects that feature practical sessions, because the physics laboratory may be well equipped, but the chemistry laboratory may lack all the necessary apparatus such as a pipette, burette, or beakers. If the school is unable to purchase and equip its laboratory with the apparatus they are lacking, it will have to opt for alternative-to-practicals instead of regular practical sessions. 

How alternative to practicals is done?

The alternative to practical is similar to the regular practical examination sessions, but the difference is that; practicals are done in the examination hall, and every necessary activity that is needed in a practical is carried out on the spot, while in alternative to practicals, the whole process doesn’t involve the use of any apparatus except your pen to write out the necessary results.

The alternative-to-practical session is more theoretical than practical.

Characteristics of the Alternative to practical examination session

  1. It doesn’t involve the use of equipment.
  2. It involves more cognitive skills than practical skills because candidates are to write based on what they are being instructed to do than to carry out practicals.
  3. It carries the same mark as the practical session, so no excuses for candidates whose centre doesn’t have provision for actual practical examination sessions. The mark quota for practicals/alternative-to-practicals is 35% of the total mark allocated to the subject.
  4. This practical examination option is more common in GCE or external examinations than in internal or school examinations.

Frequently asked questions about Alternative to practicals

Does mathematics have an alternative to practical examination session?

No, only subjects that feature practicals are capable of having the option of alternative to practicals.

What’s the time range for chemistry alternative to practicals?

The time range varies for chemistry practicals. But in 2024, the time given for chemistry practicals/alternative to practicals is 2 hours.
Generally, the time depends on how much time the examination board think will be enough to solve the practical problems.

 The alternative to practical is a practical examination session that doesn’t involve the use of apparatus, rather the students do the practicals theoretically or on paper.

The practical examination option is usually activated when a school doesn’t have the apparatus or equipment needed to conduct a practical examination session.

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