Established in 1952, the West African Examinations Council has a threefold purpose: to determine which examinations are required in all West African countries, not just Nigeria; to conduct these examinations in a fair, impartial manner and to award certificates to passing candidates. The WAEC conducts the West African Senior School Certificate Examination or WASSCE, an entrance exam for University admission in English-speaking West African member countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia.
As an examining body, the WAEC provides educational assessment services. It also has a mandate to promote sustainable human resource development and international cooperation. The employees of WAEC are motivated and highly trained, and they administer the exam in all member countries. WAEC also encourages outstanding exam performance by awarding prizes and internationally-recognized certificates.
In all member countries except Nigeria, the WAEC conducts several different examinations. In Nigeria however, the WAEC conducts only one exam, the WASSCE. This happens twice a year, in May/June for school candidates and in December for private candidates.
Apart from its exam-related responsibilities, the Council also assists in the development of relevant educational systems and policies aligned with public interest goals in West Africa. The maintenance and improvement of educational standards is also one of the mandates of the WAEC.