9 Tips You Need To Succeed In Your Competitive Exam
An exam is an integral part of a typical system.
What tests your competence in school, workplace and other heights in life is usually one thing – an exam
No exam, no certification; without certification, there’s no qualification; no qualification, no trust and then no trust translates into no remuneration.
I suppose that’s pretty obvious.
I’m gonna adopt a lot of colloquialisms here… I think it’s better for assimilation than classroom language … 🙄
The first thing about an exam, the way I see it, is understanding that what I am doing in this instant goes way beyond being scrutinized over a couple of questions for 2 hours or so. It impacts some job interview or work prospect/performance in the not-too-distant future.
Exams are a build-up of what you eventually become as professionals.
The ironic thing about examination is that it evaluates you on a subject or course you spent 16weeks or so studying.
So, I’ll ask you – when all the chips are down, do you think that’s fair enough? 🤔
I don’t think so.
The very essence of this approach towards student training should tell you that what you are taught is only a foretaste of what is required of you in the long run.
The bottom line thus is that you stand a better chance of having the right approach to learning and subsequently passing an exam if right from the beginning, you have a good grasp of what you’re being tested on.
As life is, you may not know what is coming next. Everything happens when it happens. You can only hope for the best by each passing day. So are the exams.
Enough philosophy (worth pondering though…), let’s move on to some practical kinds of stuff. Albeit, given the academic diversity in different parts of the world, I’ll tend to be general.
My emphasis is going to be on some concepts I believe are central to success. Not just in an exam but also your overall academic endeavours.
1. Connect to your core
Be you an engineer, a doctor or a teacher; haven’t you at least wondered at some point why there’s a universal principle (the practices are different though) for being the best in our fields?
That’s because, at the very core of our beings, we’re the same – we’re just offspring of the same ancestry. Your differing experiences and personalities may have coloured your perspectives a bit and given you unique definitions. You’re who you are on some level but we are the same fundamentally.
When I started as an undergraduate, I had this very weird goal of graduating with a perfect CGPA – 5.00 (FUTA standard). Well, after five years of tussling, I just fell short by a mere 0.36 points… Quite close you think 🤔?
Well… Not as close as I’d have had it but I did make a first-class, came tops in my department and everybody started calling me prof… I suppose you’d say that it should be enough… What more could a guy want 🤷🏽♂?
Beats me … So… I went for youth service… Went back for a Masters degree, and guess what I had as a final CGPA – what I had dreamt of 9years ago – a perfect 5.
My teeth couldn’t be whiter… 😌
So, what’s all this bragging for – should you see it as bragging that is, it’s the fact that there’s something born within me when I cast that vision that just didn’t die. It was alive, getting watered by belief and hard work until it finally bore fruit. It bore fruit but a little longer than I projected.
That primordial /thought/dream/aspiration/ambition… call it what you will, was my core… At least in the academic sense of the word.
There’s something about having a goal, an objective – something to evaluate oneself by and to model oneself after, that seem to bring out the best in you. When you stir yourself from your innermost being, something emerges.
It may seem unrecognizable at the time but there’s this witness within you, an unexplainable conviction that just tells you that’s who you’re supposed to be.
At the time I set out as an undergraduate, that was perhaps the first time I was being away from the safe and familiar environment of my immediate family. I was scared & flopped a lot of tests (or I thought I did… I set pretty high standards for myself.
But nerves and perfectionism don’t just go together, trust me…
But despite the rocky challenges, I knew I couldn’t let up on being someone exceptional… Not even if I was In A place that threatened to topple my already pumped self-esteem (those that were lords in high school can relate…)
Hence, believe in your dreams so much that should you have a rocky experience that threatens to unravel all you’ve built, your dream has a strong enough hold on you to keep you.
In other words, hold on to your dreams until they start holding on to you.
2. Be consistent
Ponder on this today – Success isn’t always about greatness, it’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. The path to success is a slow but progressive journey, and only consistency can keep you on track in this tiring lane.
I’d keep this short and simple by adopting another story… I love stories. I hope you do… By the way, who doesn’t 🤷🏽♂? 💪🏽
So I was the best graduating student in my set… You’d expect that I should have had the highest GPA in every semester right?
Not so. 🙂
Words on the marble – “Success isn’t always about greatness, it’s about consistency.”
In fact, I only led the entire class only half the time – for just five semesters. So how was I able to beat over a hundred students over a period of 5years?
It’s simply this. I had above 4.00 every semester and I had above 4.5 in 8 semesters.
Some guys had much better results than I did when we started, way better results. In fact in our first semester as 100L students, my department had 16 or so first-class students, And I wasn’t even among the first three!
Fast forward to 5 years later, only 2 of us made it through with a first-class.
But I was first consistent. Consistency is an invaluable key.
3. Don’t be satisfied with a level of success
I’d like to start with this – you’ll have as much success as you can handle. So, for me, it begins with coming to terms with who you are as a person-way before what you’re studying for a living…
Aristotle sort of gives us a perspective – you’re what you repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act; it is a habit…
If you’re easily satisfied by a particular level you are, you may be too relaxed and be caught off guard. You need to always aim for the best to maintain being the best. There’s always another level of best after best.
It’s that simple – success isn’t just what I do or the result I have, it is who I am.
You are only as great as the number of people you want to be successful for. In other words, one is too small a number to attract huge success. I don’t just want to succeed for myself, I want to succeed for my family, friends, community, nation, even the entire human race if possible!
I want to be so successful such that the mere mention of my name makes anyone want to be the best they’ve been made to be… Not really be like me, but being that person they’ve been uniquely designed to be.
4. Treat your lecturer as a god
In my third year at the university, there was this course I took from a lecturer that had a particularly interesting ego, to begin with. I had a zero in his first test. And a string of other poor performances in his assessments (mind you, he conducts tests almost every time we had his class – I mean it was intense!
So here I was with a humongous task of passing in a course I was poor at from the start (for me, passing means having an A). It was the only course in my entire undergraduate career that I stayed up all night to read. I went through every single material he gave in class over and over and over again… and I went straight from the night class to the exam hall.
Well, when the results were out… I had an A… By a very slight margin.
If your lecturer is egomaniacal, I’d suggest you treat him as such – like a god (with a very very small ‘g’) – not idolize him but make him feel more important than he might expect from an average student. Treat him well and I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the outcome.
I’m not saying that you become a sycophant of some sort but put in an extra effort to make him feel you’re treating his course as the only one you’re offering that semester.
Bottom line – put in the extra effort… And make sure he sees it…
5. Figure out your priority
Figure out what your priority is and then fight tooth and nail to make sure it stays on top of the list. There is no surer way to have one’s consciousness constantly tilted towards doing the right thing at the right time and extricating oneself from what might want to distort the established order.
As you must have seen, it appears that the University was designed to distract rather than educate you. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it can look like that sometimes. It’s usually so much easier to be a laggard or be a party animal than to sit your butt in a chair and sort out your books.
It is here that you’ve gotta fight – fight hard, fight yourself, fight your cravings, fight for your dreams… You’ll thank yourself and God you did. I tell you it’s going to be hard but don’t you dare quit on yourself!
There’s more at stake in the matter of your education than you can know right now.
I had the privilege of being brought up by a teacher. Also, I had a penchant for anything displayed on a page. I didn’t know how deeply entrenched I was in this until a day I visited our association secretariat as an undergraduate. Stepped in and there was this old newspaper on the table. I picked it up, had a look and dropped it.
There was a colleague there who observed what I just did. What he said gripped me – he said a lot of people have been through this place since I got here but you’re the first to pick up that newspaper. That started with me.
The thing is this, if you’re naturally into books irrespective of their origin, the chances are higher that you’ll perform better because you tend to have less resistance to picking up your lecture notes to read.
These nuances go a long way in defining how well you succeed or fail. You might want to check out Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
Bottom line – I have been groomed to read anything, anywhere, anytime. Also to aid better performance in tests and exams, make sure to begin the process of assimilation by identifying and absorbing the core concept of what you’re studying first!
Another thing that helped me (I can’t guarantee the same might work for you) when it comes to exams is going through the material the dawn of the exam, fight after I wake up…
6. Learn the way, then find your way
Find out what works for you. Talk to your parents, especially if they were involved in the early stages of your education. They must have noticed something when you were still in your prime, with no distortion to your mindset on education.
For example, I have never been the tutorial type even as a child. But tutorials has helped a lot of folks I know.
I grew up in a family where we got nothing – no gifts, no perks, no promises for coming first in class, we got absolutely nothing. Initially, it was harsh but with time, it grew in my consciousness that for me, being the best has its reward.
I want to try to impress or compete with anyone, I was only being me for coming tops.
7. Know yourself
I would say I’m high on the shy side of the temperament spectrum. So, It’s only natural for me to be reserved and be minimally involved with pieces of stuff that require a public appearance. (Not so these days. I now have to be in the public domain almost every day).
Back then, I had very few friends, so I didn’t have a lot of places to go to. I stayed with a relative of mine a little way off campus for about 3years, so I had little time to go all the way with my colleagues after school hours. Truly, this situation gave me some time to stabilize and establish myself academically.
When I did move to live close to campus, I still wasn’t exactly the outgoing type… I attended fellowship regularly though – I hardly missed services but I was never a part of the workforce.
I wouldn’t want to say more about this so that some folks don’t try to clone my lifestyle… 😃 or use me as an excuse for being anti-social, aloof and distant. As for a love relationship in school🤔, I was quite close to a lady then but nothing came out of it.
Trying to be someone else or not discovering what works for or against you might make the journey to success tougher. If you could just take your time to figure out what drains or boosts you, you can chanel your energy to the things that will help you to excel effortlessly.
8. Grasp the big picture with your strategy
The extent of the picture you capture determines the level of ultimate preparation. Therefore, it is quite obvious that you will commit more readily to causes or activities that you perceive to have a far-reaching implication on your chance of succeeding.
Put in another form, the depth of a man’s diligence is a direct function of the significance of what he is driving at. To make up another analogy, how high I want to jump will determine how low I’m going to bend to give me a momentum boost by the spring action of my knees.
Deep calls to deep. Deep perspectives will spur a deep commitment to preparing.
But then, preparation for an exam is like figuring out how to win a war – success or loss is largely dependent on the quality of your strategy.
One of the major contributors to the quality of a strategy is how much time has been spent on its concoction before execution. The strategy consists not just of what you do to achieve favourable results but much more in how much has tested and possibly jettisoned in favour of what works.
What I’m saying is that the best strategy is almost always the one that is the product of several iterations. It comes from having quite possibly failed before but ultimately realizing what doesn’t work and should not be tried at all under certain or any condition.
This may not be advisable for you if you’re close to writing exams but then I’m sure you’ve got a few proven aces up your sleeves… 😉
9. Be the early bird that gets the freshest grain
Furthermore, it is not enough to go through options to see what does or doesn’t work; There are more efficient ways of eliminating unlikely paths to success to minimize time loss and redundancies.
Asking people for one is by far the easiest… But not always the surest – and that is even assuming you’re asking the right person.
Essentially, you can do this in this phase of development which can be encapsulated within the context of research. Literally speaking, when you ‘re-search’, you’re simply standing on the shoulders of giants (or dwarfs 😁). As long as the person is a platform that is firm in the grounds of what you’re looking for.
And I am quite sure that you know fully well media and methods that facilitate research. Examples are libraries, the internet and study groups to name a few.
However, to narrow it down to an exam, what I usually do is to look for about four or five authoritative materials (what I’ll call foundation materials ) on the topic I am to be evaluated on.
Then, look for what they have in common and build on them. It is highly unusual that the examination asks beyond the scope of my so-called foundation materials. So, I’ll recommend this method for you too.
When you get out of school with that amazing grade that gives you access to opportunities you never even dreamt of, or access to people you can’t even imagine, or the platform like this to inspire other people; you’ll see that what I’m saying is well worth it… Perhaps even more…
I believe there are as many secrets to exam and life success as there are people on the planet. Confront yourself, look inward as well as upward – search, search, search!…
After all, it won’t be a secret if you don’t have to search! Be more intense in seeking out your secret than you are in finding out someone else’s.
That is the biggest secret.