Why WAEC/NECO Withholds or Outstands Results

Differences Between Withheld “HELD”, Outstanding and Cancelled Results
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It’s the norm. WAEC will hold results, NECO will outstand results and NABTEB may cancel yours. These exams’ bodies are well known for this.

Students’ results can be fully released, a few subjects or all can be withheld. Some subjects may remain outstanding and we’ve seen a few subjects or all canceled. In 2020 WAEC May/June for example, the exams body withheld 215,149 results.

Until you fall victim to circumstances, you may not understand what withheld, outstanding, and canceled results mean and what to do about it. You’re on this page probably because you’re a victim or someone you know is.

Let me take you through the basics and guide you on what to do next. In this post, you will learn what is possible and what is not.

Differences Between Withheld (“HELD”), Outstanding and Cancelled Results

1. Outstanding Results

This means a subject is or all the subjects are pending. The results may be released anytime sooner. The exams body is looking into some issues that delay them in releasing the results.

What Leads to Outstanding Results

Results are partially released or still in outstanding due to queries arising from one or a combination of the following mistakes:
  • Wrong transfer of examination numbers in one or more papers;
  • Failure to shade examination numbers;
  • Shading objective sheets with biro/pens instead of a pencil;
  • Mistakes in entries leading to duplication of subjects.

2. Withheld (“HELD”) Results

This means a candidate has been detected to have taken part in exams malpractice or violated exam rules and regulations.

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In a direct answer to what Withheld result is by WAEC Twitter handler,

Results of candidates who sat for examinations conducted by the Council are ONLY withheld/held when they violate the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the examination.

The whole center’s results can be HELD. A few candidates can be affected and just a candidate can be a victim.

Cases confirmed to have led to results being held include cheating, double entries of registrations, and smoking or taking drugs to exams hall. A few others include:

  • Stealing, converting, or misappropriating the scripts of other candidates.
  • Substituting worked scripts during or after the examination.
  • Seeking or receiving help from non-candidates such as Invigilators, Supervisors, Teachers, or other personalities during the examination
  • Tearing part of the question paper or answer booklet during the examination.
  • Refusing to submit worked scripts to the Supervisor after the examination.
  • Other irregular activities within the immediate precincts of the examination hall before, during, or after the examination.
  • Where a candidate starts writing an examination before commencement of work is officially announced OR continues writing after official orders have been given for candidates to stop work.
  • Where a candidate is caught during the examination passing notes for help from other candidates, receiving or giving assistance, talking with or colluding in a manner with another candidate, the candidate’s entire results shall be withheld pending the cancellation of the result of the subject involved by the appropriate Committee of Council.
  • Where cases of cheating are detected in scripts and/or otherwise established in one paper, the result of the subject involved shall be canceled.

To learn more, you should check my post, “WAEC and Other Exams Bodies Offences and Punishments”. This may let you know why your results were being held.

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In short, held results may be released or canceled.

3. Cancelled Results

This happens when the exams body has finally investigated and confirmed any of the reasons for holding your results in the first place.

Students’ results will remain HELD for a while until the body decides whether to release or cancel them. If candidates are found guilty, results are then canceled, if otherwise released.

If you take a moment to read the rules and regulations linked above, try to note the word “CANCEL” as used by the body. That will be the final decision if you’re found guilty.

When Will WAEC Release HELD and Outstanding Results?

As earlier pointed out, outstanding results can be released at any time sooner. The period of the release can be as short as one week or more. However, HELD results are not released so fast. Below is what you must know.

WAEC, for example, has a seating called the National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting. At this meeting, members will discuss all series of cases and decide whether to release or cancel the results earlier held.

Meanwhile, the meeting is usually held by November of every year. With this, we can say candidates withheld results should be on the lookout for their fate by November following the release of May/June results.

Do you want your results released before then? The good news is that, from the year 2018, WAEC has started to hasten things. Hence, they may release your results earlier than November. We experienced this in 2018

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The reassurance that your WAEC held results will be released sooner.

What of Other Exams Bodies- NECO, NABTEB, and NBAIS?

Attention is focused on WAEC here because more students face challenges of result not being released by WAEC more than other exam bodies. This doesn’t mean we don’t have candidates with similar issues with NECO and NABTEB.

Where that happens, your case is not different from WAEC candidates’. All exam bodies follow the same procedures when it comes to punishing candidates for malpractices and irregularities.

We have seen NECO canceling the whole center so also NABTEB. And if NBAIS finds you guilty, you won’t go scot-free.


It’s not uncommon to find students arguing that they were never involved in malpractice, hence never agreed with an exam body’s decisions.

Well, you can just be a victim of the circumstances. And if you are, kindly look out to November or weeks before, for the final judgment.

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