Nigeria's university grading system; the hack, the stories and the success

Posted on Mon 10 May 2021 in Nigeria

By Yusuf Akinyemi

When I got into the university, I knew I wanted to graduate with a second class (Upper Division) commonly known as 2:1, this sounded quite reasonable to me as I was a football enthusiast who wanted to just get my complete three points, which signifies a win in the football sphere. I did not want a 2:2, I did not want to share my points with the University of Ibadan. This is funny now in retrospect but as way back as my sophomore year, I already had the caption of my social media post upon collection of my transcript when I graduate. It is something like; Me 2 vs 1 UI.

Ayomide was a totally different breed. She wanted to make the best result in the department regardless of the odds. The only time I struggled with my course registration was my freshman year. My life became easier when I met Ayomide and her group of friends. They were my source of genuine information. I do not register courses until Ayomide does, I did not even bother with the timetable which always has a problem until maybe the fourth or fifth week of resumption because until Ayo says this is our timetable, I disregard the others as people’s opinion. This girl and her gang write letters, have meetings with lecturers on behalf of the whole class to deliberate on a free period for the class and a convenient time for the lecturer to take the class, they were our saving grace. In writing, this looks like a simple feat but it wasn’t because in my class we had students who majored in other departments which translates to them having a different timetable entirely. How they sort everyone out remains a mystery to me and it is a feat only the strong and resilient can achieve.

For non-nigerian readers, this is our reality. We do everything ourselves including the teaching, in some cases, we set the exam questions only to still get average marks despite knowing the questions beforehand because “why am I a professor if you all pass excellently”? Said one of my lecturers.

University Exam Result
Statement of result of the writer/credit: Yusuf Akinyemi/NCIRCULAR

The University of Ibadan grading system

Until 2017 when the Nigerian University Commision (NUC) approved the 4 point grading system, the university of Ibadan has always maintained the 7 point grading system. I got to the University in 2016, so I was the last set of students who used the 7 points grade average system. Ayomide believes that the 7 point grade point grading system is not different from the five point grading system that was popular in the country until 2017 “the only advantage of this 7 point grading is that it gives you a false sense of accomplishment. You think you have a higher cumulative grade point average (CGPA) than students from other institutions which is not usually so” Ayomide concluded.

Ayomide also does not agree with me that I was unserious with academics because she believes in the uniqueness of every student. “ that you did not sit with us at the school library does not make you less serious than those of us frequenting the library. You are even a genius for getting the hack before us and you were able to get a good grade”.

To survive the Nigerian education system, one must be committed to not only work hard but also work smart by understanding the system and beating the system in its own game. This includes understanding the peculiarities of each lecturer and the course content. It should be noted that there are still nigerian lecturers who only collect handwritten notes from their students; if you submit a printed copy of an assignment to such a lecturer, it is better to just write those marks off.

Is it worth the stress?

These days, employers no longer ask for your certifications or the class of degree you graduate with, this is mostly because of the paradigm shift in recruitment exercises across the world. The pandemic also brought a new sense of realization to the corporate world generally. Employees have realised that they can work from home and still be efficient and meet their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However , good grades are still important in recruitment exercises. Forbes, in an article, hinted that good grades are still as relevant as ever. Employers in big fortune companies all over the world still focus on the grades of applicants. Dan Black, a Director at Ernst and Young, one of the largest professional service networks in the world revealed in an interview with Forbes that “Grades certainly do matter when we’re recruiting students,”. “It’s really one of the only indications we have of a student’s technical ability or competence to do the job.”

By the way, Ayomide has started her application to schools outside the country. I, on the other hand, am looking at the easiest way possible for me to serve Nigeria in the mandatory one year national service. Will the deity that saw me through school also take charge now? I am hoping for the best for her and myself- which is leaving the country for post-graduate studies.

In conclusion, with all the insanity going on in public schools in Nigeria in the guise of online and virtual classes, it is instrumental to say that this is the best time for students to come back home with bad grades and blame such failure on the other factors except themselves. This abdication of responsibility will be justifiable however since I, who although took school as a side gig could survive the system, you can definitely beat the system to a pulp.

Go Champ!

Yusuf Akinyemi is a Nigerian columnist and public affairs commentator. He can be reached through