many students wonder how to come first in class, some believe they can’t, yet, the truth is that they can and would if they would just do this…
My life is Secondary school was horrible, at least that’s what I think, I was required to be in school every single day of the week before 7:45. I almost always came a tart later and regular punishments were dished out to me, in fact at a point my maths teachers actually stopped punishing me and started advising me, but guess what, I kept coming late.
Assignments were always done early in the morning, I mean that’s when I usually remembered I had one, never the less I usually manage to forget about one or more extra assignments which I usually discover was given the previous day in class. Don’t ask me how I manage to do the assignments (I won’t answer that).
Tests came flooding in when I least expected making me stay up at night. I usually stayed in the back seat in class, staying as far away from the girls as possible (because I was asocial and shy; I mean they had boobs, those things cause reactions I didn’t fully understand back then, but now I do).
In general, school sucked, However, I still managed to always be among the top three students in the class. Before I forget, playing video games was my only true hobby, and keeping late nights was my way of life. No, no they weren’t spent studying, who does that (there are movies to be viewed, we read only when there was a test or exam)
Anyway, few years into the university I would get to meet a friend who wasn’t really that good in academics back in his own secondary school days (that’s to say, he didn’t top his class). When I got to know him, he was quite smart and focused, so when he told me that, it came a bit like a surprise to me, the surprise wore off when he told me about his own experience in school
You see, on one occasion (back then in secondary school) he met his Dad to help explain how to solve a particular type of maths problem, his Dad of course understood the maths and did teach him, he fully understood the whole thing, applied the knowledge in solving the homework given to him by his teacher and was ready to show his maths teacher once and for all that he was indeed a brilliant boy
Things didn’t go down as imagined, the teacher couldn’t believe that he solved the question on his own and demanded that he tell him whom he copied from.
You can guess what happened next
He metaphorically gave the teacher the middle finger by never trying ever again
It was then it became clear to me what the secret was
HOW TO COME FIRST IN CLASS
Back then in secondary school, I had few friends, they weren’t the average students, they were the top students, they usually came tops and never for once slacked, I mean one of them actually emerged the Best Chemistry student in Nigeria back then in 2014. The only thing that mattered to us was who was going to be the best, it was our goal, our mission, the only thing we actually cared about.
The other kids could have all the girls/boys and fun; I mean that was what they cared about
If you haven’t yet caught on with the point I’m trying to make, let me put it in plain language.
You only excel doing the things you want to do
When we were babies all we ever wanted was to move around on our own and grab whatever toy we wanted, so we started crawling to the things we wanted and soon we developed our muscles and started walking to those objects and eventually running to them (and smashing the glass wares too).
Really, really take your time and think of it, when was the last time you badly wanted something? to what extent did you go to get it?
As humans, we are built with a knack of solving problems, and unless something has been considered a problem it really doesn’t bother us.
Boys could spend all day under the scorching heat of the sun playing football, sweating and injuring themselves but can’t stand revising a lecture note or something relatively boring and unexciting
Like I usually point out on this blog, Having the right “Gang” is key to achieving your goals; when you walk around with people who really don’t have the same interest as you do, the lack of energy on their part would soon drain you of yours, so that whenever you decided, “oh, I have to do so and so”, you’ll almost hear them say from the look on their faces, “who cares? Let’s go watch another episode of Merlin“.
Those subtle messages could be ignored at first but their effects would soon snowball into an unbearable weight on you, and you would soon be heading down the part of an “F” student
Back then, I stayed up all night reading, studying and cramming what I had to because I had friends I was competing with, people who cared about their academics, and Oh boy! I had a reputation to secure.
Being an A+ student was all I ever cared about. I gave all my attention to it. In fact, coming top in class was everything to me. It was meaningful to me, so I did what I had to do.
The discipline to read for long hours, throughout the night was born from that mindset. That’s the mindset that makes you an A+ student.
HOW TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR BRAIN – did you know your skull could catch fire?
The human mind is a very wonderful thing. The latest processor dwindles in performance in comparison to the brain, yet, for some bizarre reason, we perform calculations way slower and even forget (especially when we need to remember, like in the exam hall).
Well, this is because our brain, though extremely powerful, the human brain didn’t particularly evolve for complex sciences and mathematics (it’s the reason I naturally dislike math and everything that’s associated with it, the teachers especially).
The brain was evolved to
- Pick up subliminal cues from the people sitting in the room so we know who wants to murder us (and who we should murder, e.g the maths teacher)
- Process the scent of the girl standing next to us to see if she is fertile and ready to mate
- Distinguish a dog from a wolf
Basic animal survival stuff…
So, when tasks that seem to be abstract, like our calculations of numbers on a piece of paper
The human brain delegates very little energy for those sorts of things.
However, there is a way to boost the amount of power
SIMPLE TRICKS TO AID YOUR BRAIN
Number one on the list is repetition
- REPETITION: If you want to remember, I’m afraid you would have to repeat
whatever you want to commit to memory.
When you do a task multiple times the brain is forced to build a blueprint for the solution to that problem so that you don’t have to go through the same metal struggle you went through the first time.
That’s the reason you shouldn’t give up because it was very hard. Try your best to see that you take the lesson till the end. Even if you don’t understand, don’t worry, your mind is building something.
Do it again and again and your mind develops the beautiful blueprint of the solution to the task, for you.
If it’s a math’s problem, you would remember it better by solving similar questions over and over again until your brain gets used to the flow of the solution, so that on the exam hall all your mind has to do is pick the new variable(numbers) and fix them into its already developed model of the solution. And viola you are an A+ student.
To aid with remembering, you should try writing down what you read
It’s creepy that repetition is a technique used for brainwashing too, and every big institution incorporates it into their activities. The churches, schools, mosques, temples, TV ads, social media ads, politicians campaigns, etcetera … Are they all brainwashing us? that’s a topic for another day.
I went deeper into this, how it influences us, and so much more in my book “Game Over”, but for now, let’s head over to tip two
- SLEEP MORE: Don’t be tempted to stay up all night in hopes of covering the entire syllabus. You might cover it, but you would do a poor job of remembering (I learned this one the hard way).
It is always better to start early to prepare. This would save you the stress of having to stay up all night reading what you most likely won’t remember.
The mind needs rests and forcing it to assimilate complex formulas and definitions when its exhausted is just not going to turn out well. Coffee
Your mind is clearer when you have had a good rest and easily absorbs new information too. The old information also sticks better when you sleep, it’s like digestion and the sleep is the water that washes everything down.
Waking up early in the morning, between 3-6AM is also great, this is because the brain is usually at peak performance during these periods. For me, these are the times I set aside for consuming non-academic books.
I usually read academic books at night, from 7-9PM with my friends at night classes, then I go to bed.
- EAT HEALTHY: The food you eat matters a lot as it’s the fuel that runs our body. The brain
is very powerful and consumes a lot of glucose – Glucose is a major source of energy to the body
The human brain accounts for about 2% of the body’s weight, yet about 20% of the body’s glucose-derived energy
It goes without saying that if you don’t eat well then the brain would suffer in performance.
Its no use reading hungry, not only is it inefficient, it would also give you severe headaches.
To supercharge your brain, you could even start taking Vitamin B12 supplement daily as it actually grows the size of your brain (as you age your brain gets smaller, which vitamin B12 fights); The vitamin has also been proven to help you learn, concentrate and think critically
- THROW DISTRACTIONS THROUGHT THE WINDOW: Did you notice how long it took to read that?
Did you also notice the “T” in the spelling of “through” above?
We have very limited attention bandwidth. Keep your phone on silent, and turn off vibration. Stay in a quiet environment but if you must, have a cool music playing in the background.
Numerous studies have shown that listening to slow, relaxing music slows down your pulse and heart rate, lowers your blood pressure and actually decreases the level of stress hormones in your body (stress is very bad for the brain).
You want all your attention to be in your study.
Distractions would do you more harm than you can imagine. Keep them away. I prefer reading alone, not necessarily isolated, but the material I am using should be for me alone.
Go at your own pace. Pause, go back, and scan through if necessary. Devour the entire content and go over it again and again. Let nothing come in between you and your study, unless of course, you want to pee…
- ASK FOR CLARIFICATIONS: If there is someone who already has the answer to a puzzling problem, you want to meet them as soon as possible.
The more you make things easier for your brain to digest, the better and faster it is going to remember it.
Besides, the brain is notorious for remembering conversations more than formulas. Turn those formulas into conversations.
- GET VISUAL: As the heat mounts and the need to remember increases, you have to make use of the best techniques available.
We are incredible at remembering the things we see. Hear a piece of information and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%…
Writing letters and formulas isn’t enough. You need something graphical; Graphs, charts, 3D models, videos, cartoons, etcetera…
- USE ACRONYM: This is one of the greatest weapons in the arsenal of the brainy people. They use acronyms to staggering extents.
Do you still remember “MR NIGER CAD”, the acronym for characteristics of living things? You do, right?
You can store complex and large data in compressed formats in your brain using acronyms.
You would be surprised how well your mind would unroll the full meaning and definitions of the things you want to commit to memory once you’ve read them before and have memorized just the acronym.
(Don’t tell the lecturers, but acronyms are a great way to help you cheat during an examination, but you must all be knowledgeable about what it means, that’s why you need smart people in your circle, you don’t have to list everything again and risk getting caught…don’t tell anyone I told you this, shhhh! Quiet)
Acronyms usually involve using the first letters of each word. But some people mix it up, while others use sentences or songs which follow a familiar pattern.
For instance. When cramming the names of the nine planets and their arrangement in our solar system the acronym “My Very Eyes May Just See Our Ninth Planet
The first letters “M.V.E.M.J.S.O.N.P” can then be unwrapped to get Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Ouranos, Neptune and Pluto.
I know Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but you get the point, yes?
Get creative, but don’t over do it, or you might end up forgetting the acronyms as well as the meaning…
- EXERCISE MORE: Multiple experiments have proven that a lifetime of exercise can result in astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who do not exercise.
Exercise reliefs stress and improves blood circulation to the brain and the rest of the body. Sex works too, but you didn’t hear that from me.
MAKE YOUR LECTURERS FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU – how to get better grades in exams
In 1999 a research carried out by Saoirse and Quvenzhane proved that writing clearly and using simple and common words to express yourself would aid you to score higher in an exam…
Did you notice how difficult it was to read out those names? I doubt you even read them, especially “Quvenzhane”, but why?
Look, humans hate stress, we naturally and automatically find ways to make things easier for ourselves and as a matter of fact, our brains
Water follows the part of least resistance.
Saoirse and Quvenzhane didn’t carry out any research, I just Googled those names, they actually belong to celebrities which as you suspected, no one enjoys cheering their names. However, there are tons of researches about this (i.e., the not liking stress thing). You can read Thinking fast and slow by Kahneman Daniel to know more about this phenomenon.
The point is, work on your presentations, this would enable the lecturer easily comprehend your points and grade you better (except math’s teachers, they love bogarting marks for their babies).
- Write legibly
- Space appropriately
- Use paragraphs to express new points and ideas
- Use appropriate punctuations (I suck at this)
- Rule line where necessary
- Use numbers and bullets
- Use images and illustrations (such as charts, graphs, etcetera)
- Use subheadings
- Cancel neatly yet clearly
- Use a quality pen and paper
Try your possible best to make it easier for the lecturer to read and understand what you have written down. This is the reason two people can write the same thing, yet score different marks.
You also want to start with the answer you are sure of. Human minds have a tendency to jump into conclusions. Now, you want the person grading you to jump to the conclusion that you are smart.
Remember that you are not the only person being graded, so there is tendency to scan for points. Put the points you are sure of in front.
It also helps to list out your major points first before heading over to explaining each. The initial ability to state all you want to talk about can even earn you marks and convince the lecturer that you are smart and organized.
And one more thing, if the teacher marks your down after all these, smash his windshield; if it’s a Maths teacher, lessen his tires too, let him calculate the difference in time between trekking and driving (leaving his answer is seconds).
I’m an artist, writer, and thinker. I also love reading and playing chess.