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Tips for getting better grades in exams

  • Every serious minded student feels dejected and frustrated with consistent poor grades in exams. Nevertheless, frustration or dejection is just a mere emotional reaction which cannot stop failure; it only causes what I call “multiple failures”—that is, continuous failure.

    When you fail as a student, the reasonable thing to do is to appraise or reevaluate yourself. Consider different factors that caused you the failure: lack of adequate preparation, mental approach towards exams, not following examiners’ instructions, etc.

    The moment you start doing this, you have started taking the success path in your forthcoming exams. In the words of Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

    Whether or not you like it, examination (whatever platform/dimension it takes) remains the only formal test of your knowledge or proficiency in your area of specialization. For school admission, certification, and even promotion, examination is a compulsory gateway you have to pass through. Hence the need to be serious about it and face it with all what it requires.

    Here are some important tips to use to get desired grades in exams:

    Sufficient preparation

    Preparing for exams doesn’t begin when the examination timetable is out; it starts right from the first day of resumption! Resume back to school at the appropriate time, draft your study time table and integrate it well with lecture time table and make sure you follow the schedules religiously.

    Positive attitude towards exams

    Examination is simply an organized method of presenting students with hypothetical problems in their area of specialization which require their expertise to solve. It’s not a war! If you have this attitude, you won’t be unnecessarily nervous and will be confident in using your acquired expertise to tackle the questions.

    Class attendance

    Yes. The root of having success in your exams goes this deep. Attending classes is very important as it serves as a vital complement to supplementary readings. Classes also give students a golden advantage of getting clues on what the lecturers’ exams questions will look like.

    Besides, classes give you the platform to ask questions from your lecturers and also interact with your colleagues.  

    Note taking

    Apart from the fact that taking notes helps to stimulate your attention, the  notes serve as a resourceful material during final preparations for exams.   Samantha Dhann (2001) affirmed this:

    Note taking is an important academic task that helps you to  remember  what you have learnt and helps you to review materials  for re-use in  revision and assignments… Effective note taking  should reduce your study  time, should increase your retention of  knowledge, and should provide you  with a summarized list of  resources for your future projects.

    Note taking also helps improve your writing skill which is very  important  in answering essay questions.

    Supplementary readings

    Supplementary readings are equally essential if you desire higher grades in your exams. In fact, the totality of the content of an examination essay that attracts higher grades must include: extrapolations from class notes, the supplementary readings, and the students’ original thoughts.

    Improved writing skills

    Some students prepare for exams adequately but still fail. Why? Poor  writing skill!  No matter how excellent your ideas are, it makes no  difference if you can’t  convey them in good words. A good writing skill is  the vehicle through which you  convey your ideas. If you desire better  grades in your exams, you must work on  your writing skills; refine your  language and organize your thoughts.

    Read instructions/understand the questions well

    Instructions are very important. Instructions give you guidelines on how (best) to approach the questions. So many students fail not because they don’t know the questions but they go against the examiners’ instructions and do something totally different from what the questions demand. So, read the instructions and make sure you understand the question before you start working on it.

    Time management

    It makes no difference if you prepare well but do not have enough time to answer the questions.  Before  you start an exam, you need to do time management. Check the total number of  minutes/hours  allocated to the paper and the number of questions to attempt. Then, allocate  time limit to each of the  questions based on the totality of the hours you have. To perfect this, it  is advisable to practice with  past questions. Understand that studying past questions also  familiarizes you with exams situations.

    Final cross-check

    While planning your time, ensure you assign some minutes for cross-checking. Cross check your answers and make sure everything is as you want it. Don’t be in haste to submit when the time allotted for the exam is not over.

    Bonus TIP: Have a focus. Write out the specific grades you desire in each of your courses. Then you work hard towards achieving the grades using the above tips. Remember, if you can imagine it, you can make it happen!

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