I decided to write this post for the purpose of granting the request of one of the readers of this blog, an undergraduate of university of Benin. He wanted a guide on how to make distinction in all his courses. As much as he’s going to benefit from this article, I also believe you will benefit immensely if you are currently undergoing an academic program in any institution of higher learning.The ideas and academic success principles I am about to share with you are what I have personally applied and have seen worked for other high-flying students I met in the course of my academic journey from primary school to the university level.
What to do to make distinction in your courses include the following:
1. Desire to Make Distinction in All Your Courses Badly: Every achievement in life begins with a DESIRE. If you must make distinction in all your courses, you must have a BURNING desire to achieve that feat. With a burning desire, you will be able to go through every pain and stress necessary to birth your distinctions. When you are faced with obstacles, a burning desire for academic success will propel you to focus on solutions rather than problems. It will keep you going.
2. Write down your goal: Your goal here is to make distinction in all your courses. It is not enough to just have it on your head that you want to make distinction in all your courses, it is important you write it down in your personal journal. Writing down your goals makes them appear tangible and achievable. It is essential that you paste it where you can see it every day. You can paste it beside your mirror or somewhere in your room.
The first thing I always do once I resume for a new term when I was in secondary is to make a list of all my subjects and write the grades I want to have in all. I did same too when I was an undergraduate. The result is that my mates marvel at my academic performance. Some folks in my secondary school days, especially when I was in J.S.S 1 taught I was not ordinary, because they could not imagine how I achieved the feat of making A’s in virtually all my subjects. The reason lies in the fact that I decided to make A’s in all my subjects and I know that if it must be, I must have certain amount of mark in each subject to attain the goal, so I put in the needed effort to achieve my goal. I went on to be among the top 10 graduating students in secondary school out of over 200 hundred students, and graduated with a second class upper from the university. Without academic goals, you can hardly be an outstanding student.
3. Get the course outline of all the courses for the semester: what will be your class of degree, whether a first class, second class upper, second class lower, third class or ordinary pass at the end of your degree program is a combination of your performances in all the semesters that constitute your degree program. Your ultimate success will be determined by the success of each semester. If you can endeavor to do well one semester at a time, you will come out with a satisfactory class of degree, at least a minimum of second class upper.
To have a successful semester, the first thing to do is to get the course outline for all your courses. Everything you are expected to know for the semester is in the course outline, and its content is where your test and examination questions will be drawn from. It is an essential tool that you must have.
4. Get the materials for all your courses: In higher institutions in Nigeria, lecturers usually prepare handout for the course they are taking, and each student is expected to get a copy of the handout, so that they can have access to the components of the course. If you want to make distinction, it essential you get all the materials for your courses. Buy all the recommended handouts and text books for the semester. If you can’t afford them, borrow from those who bought and make photocopy, it is cheaper.
5. Attend lectures regularly: if you want to make distinction in all your courses, it is imperative that you attend lectures. When you are in class, listen to the lecturer. Compare his teachings to the content of the course material. There are some lecturers that teach so many things that you won’t find in the course material, while some teach word for word of what is in the course material. Now, for the lecturers whom you cannot predict what they teach based on their course material, it is essential that you attend their class, in fact don’t miss their class, if making distinction is your goal.
Some brilliant students don’t believe in attending lectures because they believe they can always read, and assimilate the content of the course materials and pass exam. What do you think would happen if most questions are set out of the content of the course material or if the lecturer expects students to answer certain questions based on the explanation he gave in class? Such students no matter how brilliant they are won’t make a distinction in that course. I once failed a course that way. I got to the examination hall only to see questions whose answers can never be found in the course material.
If you must boycott any lecturer’s class, let it be the class of a lecturer whose teaching can be predicted based on the course material. Without attending his class, you will pass if you study the course material properly.
Another reason why it is essential to attend lectures is because of continuous assessment. Continuous assessment is the combination of your class attendance, your contribution in class, assignments and test coupled with the final examination score. Not attending classes will make you lose some mark which may cost you a distinction in that course.
6. Read, Read and Read: If you don’t like reading, you may not be able make distinction in all your courses. You must be ready to read. Try to know the studying method that work best for you and the best time of the day that you can assimilate things faster. To some, their prime time is early in the morning, some prefer afternoon while some get the best out of studies when they study at night. It is your responsibility to know the reading method, and time of the day that works best for you.
If you must make distinction in all your courses, it is imperative that you cover all the components or content of your course outline. It is essential that you read your course material(s) from cover to cover, and digest them properly.
7. Get Past question papers: Research shows that about 50% of questions set for candidates during examination can be found in past question papers of that particular course or subject. Past question paper is a powerful tool you will need to excel in any course. Make effort to get the past question papers of all your courses as early as possible, and learn to use them as the semester progresses. Study the way the lecturer structures his questions, and apply it as you study his course material. Frame questions based on his pattern of setting question for all the contents of the course material, and learn to answer them in the best way possible.
8. Do your assignment and submit promptly: Assignment, whether individual or group is one of the components of continuous assessment. Failure to do and submit your assignment may cost you a distinction, no matter how brilliant you are. For this reason, cooperate with your lecturer by doing your assignment as soon as possible and submit when expected.
9. Always prepare for impromptu test: There are days you will go for lectures as usual, only for the lecturer to tell you to get a sheet of paper, write your name and matriculation number, and your course code. The next thing you will see is questions on the board. If you didn’t anticipate such test, you will be thrown off balance. And if you fail such test due to lack of preparation, that may cost you a distinction. To avoid such failure, I suggest that as soon as you are getting to the middle of the semester, you should always expect test any time you are going for lectures and always prepare in advance.
10. Find out the marking style of the lecturers: if you want to make a distinction in a course, it is important you know the way the lecturer expects students to answer his questions. Some lecturers want you to give them verbatim what they taught you or what are in their course material, while others want you to come up with something out of the box but still in line with what you were taught. Having this knowledge and answering his questions based on his expectation will earn you your distinction without stress. You can get this information from senior colleagues who have passed through the lecturer.
11. Prepare adequately for examination: At the end of every semester, you are going to write exam in all the courses for that semester. If you have followed the previous instructions, you will definitely be prepared for the final exam. You must make adequate preparation for the exam. Adequate preparation include, covering the course outline, reading all the recommended course materials, reading the note taken in class during lectures and practicing past questions.
12. Don’t miss the revision class prior to exam: Examination is never a battle between the lecturers and students. It is the joy of every good teacher to see that his students excel at the end of the semester.
During final revision that precedes examination, the teacher most often do their best to give students hints on possible areas that questions are likely to come out from. Prior to this time, they have set their questions, and submitted them to the faculty management.
By being attentive to what the lecturer says in the revision class, you will have a glimpse of possible questions to be expected and areas you need to focus on in the course material or lecturer’s note. Missing such class can cost you a distinction.
13. Choose your friends wisely: it is important to note that the people with whom you associate as a student play a very big role in your academics. You must make effort to relate with students who are serious minded; students who have burning desire for unlimited academic success. These set of students would challenge and motivate you to be up and doing. Associating will them with keep you alert and help you to focus on your academic goals. Always remember that “he that walks with the wise shall be wise, but the companion of fools shall be destroyed.” It is better to be a loner as a student than to be in the company of unserious folks. Choose your friends wisely!
5 Things to Do On the Examination Day
The examination day is the day to reap every effort you have been making right from day one of the semester, so if you make any mistake that day, you may end up losing your reward. I suggest that you do the following five things on the examination day.
14. Be early to the exam venue: It is essential you get to the exam hall or venue at least fifteen minutes before the exam commences. This will give you the opportunity to relax and get your mind ready for the exam.
15. Go with all the needed examination kit: This may include your pen, mathematical set, your Id card, and everything you will be in need of in the examination hall. Don’t go to the exam hall with the plan of borrowing anything you will need. Doing so will slow you down, and can even cost you your distinction.
16. Write your name and matriculation number where they are needed: There have been cases where students submit answer booklet and forget to write their name and matriculation number. To avoid this mistake, write your name, matriculation number, and course code as soon as you get your answer booklet.
17. Read the instructions thoroughly and comprehend them before you solve the questions: Take note of the instructions in your question paper and solve the questions in obedience to them. Most often, examiners use such words as list, state, enumerate, discuss, explain, and define and so on. You are expected to answer the questions based on the command or instruction given in the question paper. Disobedience to instruction due to error in understanding the instructions or answering the question in a way that is not consistent with the instructions simply to show the lecturer that you are brilliant can cause you fail.
18. Write legibly: If you have a bad handwriting, such that only you can read your work, you will fail no matter how brilliant you are. When writing examination, write in such a way, that even a blind man can read what you write. When you give the right answers using clear and legible hand writing, you can never be denied of distinction.
19. Work with time: Duration of time is always allotted to examination; it is your duty to make sure you answer as many as possible questions within the time given. If you know the answers but too slow to solve all the questions before the time elapses, you will lose your chances of making a distinction. What you need here is speed and accuracy.
20. Revise your answers before submitting: Don’t be in a rush to submit. Nobody is given a distinction for being the first to submit. Check your work properly; make corrections where necessary before you submit. And when submitting, make sure you submit in the right place because there are cases where students of different levels write exam simultaneously in the same hall. The school management often makes such arrangement in an attempt to curb examination malpractices. It will be a great mistake to have your script mixed up with a different group of students due to your own error. This kind of mistake is probably why some students do have missing script issue. Once again, make sure you submit where you should submit.
21. Keep praying till you see your result: You have done your best, now it is time to leave the rest to God. The kind of prayer you should pray is left to you. You must have it in mind that God will help you only when you have helped yourself by following the instructions in this article.
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