STUDY SMART SECRETS ~Chika Ugwuodo~

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Every student want a to excel; unfortunately many fail despite their efforts. On Campus Insight today blogger and University of Nigeria graduate of Biochemistry, Chika Ugwuodo, gives a detailed diagnosis of why it happened and shares his unorthodox study style that has earned him ‘A’ without stress.

With a round of applause, let’s welcome him on Brojid.Com Podium….aka gi…Alright, Chika over to you…


 

I often got this question tossed to me: “What is the secret of your good grades?” People had always wanted to know why I worked less but reaped bountiful benefits in academics. It might surprise you to know that I never observed the much revered ‘night class’ back then in school. Ever. That marveled a lot of my classmates. Many itched to uncover the seeming lazy approach. This prompted me to do an inward study of my habits and working principles. This article is the product of that cogitative process.

THE MAIN FEATURE

For the obvious fact that you are enlightened, you will like to know the qualification of the author and also, whether he is in a position to formulate academic hypotheses and teach principles of academic success. That makes you a worthy student or graduate.

Well, all you need to know is that I am a graduate with an enviable academic record and also a teacher. I have taught JAMB and Post-UTME classes for almost 3 years now. So, we are good to go, I guess.BROJID.COM STUDY

Today, I have decided to expose some unknown skills and methodologies that I have been applying over the years with amazing positive results. Before delving into the main dish, I have an appetizing fact to state. A person’s academic potential and ability is determined by two mutually unexclusive factors: family genes and background, and personal habits. Don’t underrate any of these.

While you have no or infinitesimal control over your inherited genes and family background, personal habits are fully at your discretion. Your parents might have been business men with no interest in bookish matters. You might feel you are naturally dumb because it runs in your lineage. In that case, leave what cannot be controlled and alter your daily habits.

Upgrade your attitude and you can succeed in overriding genetic influence. Many known thinkers and motivational speakers have averred times without number that you are what you do daily. I could not agree more. Set targets, develop winning habits, practice them daily and give testimonies.

Set yourself on the path of academic success. Consider the vital tips discussed below. Order of appearance does not in any way suggest priority.

  1. Get rid of distractions in your life.

By distractions, I mean toxic relationships and destructive addictions. Without mincing words, academics never goes hand-in-hand with romance. Emotions always seem to stage a hostile takeover of an individual’s brain; be it sadness, anxiety, overexcitement, love or sexual desires. It beclouds your sense of reasoning and paralyzes your potential to concentrate. On my Facebook page, Chika Writes Daily, there is an article on this. In addition, you can’t succeed academically if you have a negative addiction like addiction to cigarette, beer, pornography, idle chatters, fashion, football, etc.

Upgrade your attitude and you can succeed in overriding genetic influence. Many known thinkers and motivational speakers have averred times without number that you are what you do daily. I could not agree more. Set targets, develop winning habits, practice them daily and give testimonies.

Purge your mind and soul of all these and focus. Don’t underestimate the power of focus. Learning is a selfish activity. It needs isolative attention in the nervous system to be perfected. Throughout my years in school, I had platonic friends but no girlfriend. I knew that I couldn’t control the distractions. It helped. A lot. I didn’t have to think about the text messages to send or whether my girl was cheating or not. Those kinds of thoughts sap your positive energy. As a student, you don’t need them. Trust me. I know what I am saying.

  1. Make attending lectures your number one priority.

Contrary to whatever you have been told in the past or forced yourself to believe, ‘attending lectures’ is the number one priority of any academic genius. Don’t ever miss lectures except in cases of unavoidable contingencies. Pay rapt attention to your instructors and take down notes. I never joked with lectures throughout my academic years as an undergraduate. Students tend to develop this strong, unflinching affinity for private studies over classroom teachings. They claim to know how ‘ineffective’ a lecturer is and how attending their classes would amount to a waste of time. This is a poisonous notion. Revision week or not, attend your lectures. Good lecturer or bad, attend classes. Classes serve you hints on a lecturer’s possible concentration areas. In the exam hall, a class you had attended might be a life saver. An illustration made in class which is not in your note may be what makes the difference between a ‘B’ and an ‘A’.

  1. Borrow notes from only brilliant students.

Some student can’t ever seem to produce error-free notes. They make a plethora of spelling errors and unintentionally distort facts. Ask yourself. What exactly do you read for your exams? Bad notes? How do you then expect to pull off an exam hall miracle? Just like one of the qualities of computers, the human brain, to an extent is garbage in, garbage out. Find out the students who make minimal mistakes while taking down notes and who also add extra bits of the lecturers’ spoken additives to the main notes. Some never do the latter. As a student, fellow students who knew my note-taking ability always had my notes photocopied before exams. I sure bet that it was beneficial. Good notes never look alluring. Headings don’t get ruled with pens of various colours. They appear as audio records of the classes; containing every relevant information. Have that in mind.

  1. Understand whatever you are taught before thinking about cram work.

After each class, ask the lecturer questions. Now, this might be an issue to some. I am not the question type too. There is a way out. Single out confusing areas and ask for clarifications. Involve your friends. Those gurus in your class whose brains magnet information like super adhesives, seek their help.

It never hurts. I did that a lot, and those who because of that attitude, thought me a dullard were to say the least shamefully disappointed at the end. The target is to understand. Understand. It is important. It is futile or at the least, very frustrating to attempt a successful memorization of what you have a loose grasp of. The only time I visited the school library was when I needed to clarify some concepts. I would read a topic from different textbooks until the haze over it clears. Browse. There is so much you can get from the internet nowadays. How do you know you have understood something? If you are able to explain that same thing to someone with your words or in your local dialect. I believe there are things you don’t just have to understand. In that case, cram them bit by bit, detail by detail.

  1. Read over and over again.
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Not many of my colleagues knew that I used to read my notes at least five times before the examinations. Don’t wait for a night before the exam and go to class with coffee and rechargeable lantern. You can’t read a note once or twice and expect an exceptional performance. Never. Once you have an understanding of all that has been thought, read it like your life depends on it until it becomes part of you. Reading starts on the first day of school resumption. At the end of each lecture, read the note given immediately. It pays. Work hard from day one.

  1. Learn and practice the use of acronyms.

ROYGBIV. Remember? You sure do. The spectrum of white light. That acronym never eludes me whenever I need it. Since I learned it, it has stuck to my brain. A friend of mind uses Eha-alumona Students’ Union (ESU) to remember that Uncompetitive inhibitors bind to the Enzyme- SubstrateComplex. You got that, right? Apply this principle. Liken aspects of your notes to every day happenings. It makes you to hardly forget.

  1. Convert your notes to social media.

I choose to call this technique the Social Media Technique. We know social media as platforms for online interaction. It is no news that the youths of nowadays make posts and reply chats on Facebook even during meals. There was this joke about a dying man updating his 2go status to ‘Dying things on my mind’. Funny right? This tell us the extent of the Social Media craze. But the interesting thing about this Social Media of a thing is that the devices we use in accessing them, mostly smart mobile phones, go with us wherever we go. As a student, I used to take my notes to the barber’s shop, to unofficial gatherings and literally to every place that promised to afford me some minutes of idleness.A glance over a page counts more than you can imagine. Any little chance you get, take a peek and understand a definition, diagram or word before looking away. Mull over anything you pick up and if possible, work it into a discussion with friends (who might not care). This is one of my best techniques. A little secret. Keep this to yourself. I read most of my notes while sitting on a toilet seat. Those unconventional places spice up your reading life and make studying less monotonous.

People make the mistake of substituting notes with past question papers. This is suicidal.

  1. Meditate over the content of your notes and preach them.

You read that right. You know how you think about what to wear tomorrow, the sweet talks of your girlfriend/boyfriend, the latest football formations and hurtful words addressed to you during the day. Exactly. Apply the same to your notes. Think about them. Meditate over them. Subject yourself from time to time to remembrance challenges. All these help. Define terms while you take your bath. Be creative. Before you sleep, draw a diagram you should know and go with the memory to bed. If you can manipulate the subjects of your dreams, substitute dreams of sexual escapades with the contents of your note. Educate your roommates on the Principles of Machines or the Philosophies of John Locke. They must not be interested. My brother was my practicing object. Whenever you say a thing, you hardly forget.

  1. Practice. Practice. Practice and test yourself before any exam.

While in third year, I offered a course that had to do with a lot of structural formula and equations in organic chemistry. There was absolutely nothing to be understood. Just crammed. I would read, cram, memorize and still test myself to be sure. On the day of the exam, I went to school with blank sheets of paper. While my class mates rushed over their notes in a last minute attempt at revision, I tried to reproduce the entire content of my note on those sheets of paper.

Some will say that two to three hours is too small for studying. It might be. The most important thing is to stop when you are tired and do some other thing. Don’t overstretch yourself. It might diminish instead of increase your pool of accumulated knowledge.

From topic to topic, without looking, I drew those structures and wrote those equations. It took me over an hour but it was worth it. I was never able to achieve perfection. Corrections were made when applicable. For some other courses, I set questions on every page of my note while reading. On a second read, I would first answer the questions to evaluate my understanding. If you don’t examine yourself before the proper examination, you will remain unpredictable to yourself.

  1. Convert your Night classes to Morning classes.

Except with the aid of performance-enhancing substances, nobody can read a whole night without feeling the inextinguishable lure of sleep. Forget about arguing this. It is not possible. And, note, learning stops the moment sleep and tiredness encroaches upon you. People nod over their books and count the period spent doing that as productive. Very self-deceptive. You stay up all night doing what I don’t know and spend the morning hours of the next day in school, sleeping. You miss lectures and still neglect the danger signals. What I advise is, wake up 3:00 am every morning and read till maybe 6 or 7. That is just the ideal time for active brain work. By then, you are free of the effect of sleep and everywhere is quiet. The brain, after a reset, works at maximal capacity. Some will say that two to three hours is too small for studying. It might be. The most important thing is to stop when you are tired and do some other thing. Don’t overstretch yourself. It might diminish instead of increase your pool of accumulated knowledge.

  1. Read the relevant materials only, during exams.
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Don’t ever read magazines and motivational books during exams. Don’t at all. Allow your brain to focus on the necessary things. Focus is the key word. Motivational books can never make you pass your exams.

  1. Limit your church activities.

At St. Peter’s catholic chaplaincy where I used to worship as a student, the chaplain always dismissed students’ gatherings, NFCS conventions inclusive, once it was 8:00pm during exam periods. You need God but you shouldn’t plot to suffocate yourself with Him. God gave us brain, mind and will power. That is the miracle you need to succeed in your academics. Seek his face but make use of those essential elements of life more. You can’t spend nights after nights at vigils during an exam period when you should be reading or sleeping to regain your strength and vitality. Don’t come to school and get ordained as a fellowship pastor. That is an extra burden and it has effects on you especially if you are not remarkably gifted in academics. God does not take joy in seeing his servants underutilize their potentials.

  1. Limit your social activities but don’t avoid them.

You know this already. Play soccer, go to parties but don’t overdo them. They are necessary. As a scientist, I can tell you with authority that exercise is a recommended recipe for a healthy brain. Take time out and engage in things interesting. It becomes a problem when you get addicted or misplace your priorities because of fun.

  1. Take lessons from your classmates

Don’t feel too big or too brilliant to do this. They know the best ways to teach you. A girl once searched me out for appreciation after an exam because prior to the paper, I gave her a simplified explanation of what then was an incomprehensible phenomenon- the Spare Receptors Theory in Biochemistry. Another classmate of mine keep thanking for help rendered some years ago. He had complained of the complexity of a professor’s teachings. I read a collection of notes and wrote him a summary. He shared it with his friends and they were better for it. Till today, they keep reminding me of that moment of helpfulness. I learnt from classmates too. Don’t ignore this please.

  1. Write exams well

What I mean is this. Develop a good handwriting. Very essential. And, learn how to write neatly. Paragraphing is an important academic device. You can’t jumble up your points and expect an impatient professor to thoroughly search for them. Separate your points very well. Give them bullets and numbers when necessary. Write neatly. If you scribble, instead of writing legibly, you are in trouble. That is so true. What you have to do is to go and practice a nice handwriting. In addition, develop your usage of English language. In school, no one judges the content of your brain. What is being evaluated is your expression of knowledge. Please, learn how to stitch words into correct sentences. Write what one can understand. It helps. No teacher wants to fail a student with a neat work (although it happens). Before the exam, write summaries of your notes and ask some friends to help you go through them to determine their readability.

  1. Stay close to God and avoid karma

In God, we find life. Don’t just be a hearer of the word and a bearer of the bible, but a doer. Be good to others to avoid karma. Karma is a bitch, they say. It doesn’t respect anyone. When you do wrong to people, a reward of equal magnitude awaits you. Be good. The effects of good prayers and wishes from people cannot be overestimated. Be nice.

On a final note, we are individuals with differences. These above-listed techniques work. Apply them and see your academic life change but, devise yours. Break rules. Study yourself and know what works for you. The bottom line is work hard and smart.

A day to that paper, sleep and rest well. Then, on the main day, be at the venue an hour before the starting time.

Thanks for your support.


 

Editor’s Note: Chika is a blogger at ChikaWrites where he serves highly engaging stories every day and interview. On RelationshipWednesday, he publish relationship articles where he share unusual insight on relationship.

 

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Joseph Dinwoke

Chief Content Officer at Brojid World
Joseph 'Brojid' Dinwoke, Radio producer/OAP at Radio Nigeria Voice96.7FM, and publicist, is the curator of Brojid.com. At Brojid World, he creates contents and provides training, mentoring, coaching and inspiration for peak performance in your life and work through blog posts, podcasts, books and training. You can follow him on social media by clicking on any of these social media icons. To get his daily inspirational and insightful broadcast on WhatsApp, connect with him with: 0810 550 4664

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