You are born truly smart and intelligent and you had better believe it. I wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t think that. The problems we often face in our academic pursuits are as a result of lackluster attitudes towards taking the steps we need to take in discipline and perseverance. Nobody is born a dullard! Men like Ben Carson, the renowned talented neurosurgeon can attest to that fact, the fact “because we may be experiencing poor performances in our studies at our present levels of study doesn’t mean we do not have the capacity and potential to become outstanding in our various fields of study.”
All that may be needed for you to make that break may be a mental shift and a decision to begin to apply with discipline principles that will make you successful. I will share here eight steps that can help you prepare for successful exams during the semester. You may also be interested in other exam secrets and study tips available in our “helpful tips” category.
1. Attend your lectures diligently and don’t play with them
Lectures are where you will be told what is important for you to focus on at your present academic level. I’m often amazed at the number of students that have all the textbooks in the world for their courses and refuse to attend lectures. Textbooks are very good as I’ll soon emphasize but when they become an excuse for you to miss lectures, then you’re preparing for bad grades. As much as you can, don’t miss your lectures, take them seriously and always be on time.
2. Ensure you write down during lectures
Attending lectures is one thing; attending to them is another different thing. Being attentive during lectures is very crucial and it entails writing and jotting down major points, learned ideas, and those things the lecturers laid particular emphasis on. The reason why this is so important is that your note if comprehensive enough will prove to be the most valuable exam-preparation resource and tool. Write down your notes in such a way that they’ll be easy for you to understand when reading them.
3. Revise your lecture notes before and after classes
In a post on 6 reasons why we forget what we read, we were made to understand that lack or revision or rehearsal is one of the reasons we forget what we’ve committed hours to learn. Revising your notes before the lectures keeps us well abreast of what was previously learnt and prepares you for easier understanding and retention of the new information while revising them after the lectures helps your brain convert the memory from short-term to long-term.
4. Use textbooks as references
What I mean here is that no material or textbook should take the place of or be an excuse for not having a lecture note. As great and as beneficial as textbooks are, they ought to serve only as references to better understand what the lecturer has emphasized in class.
5. Make your own brief notes while you study
Writing is one of the laws of conversion – conversion of acquired knowledge to personal knowledge. Before acquired knowledge can become your own, you must make your own notes and write down your unique thoughts as well as what you personally understand from what you’re learning.
6. Test yourself by solving problems
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this point. To be sure that you have truly understood those concepts, answer questions either self-set or otherwise on them. To also ensure you’ve mastered the science behind those things that were taught in class that you’ve read, solve as many problems and exercises on them as possible. Task your brain to start learning to retrieve and reproduce the information in your memory before the exams.
7. Create or join a study group
Two heads they say are better than one. I’d like to add that it’s not just two heads but two heads that are utilizing the capacity of the brains contained in them. Creating or joining an already existing study group in your class will help you and your group members to share knowledge and information that you would never have gotten by remaining a lone ranger.
8. Help others in the areas you are strong
As often as possible, you need to help others who are experiencing difficulties in the areas in which you are strong. You may say that you’re not one of the ‘geniuses’ in class but I must let you know that there are always areas though they maybe few, where you are stronger than another person, even the so-called ‘geniuses’. Find those areas and be willing to help others become strong in them too. In the long run, you’ll benefit the most because not only will you never lose or forget that knowledge, you’ll gain confidence to tackle bigger problems.
Remember, according to the Chinese proverb, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Begin with a disciplined step and watch you academic performance move to a greater level.
What other tips can you help others with, that weren’t mentioned in this post? Share your thoughts and opinions.