After taking a moment tracking my original source of motivation in ‘numbers’, i have realised that it all started ten years back, in 2003, end of January, when i was doing my Form 3, Ordinary level (10th grade) – i scored a 90% mark in a formative Mathematics class test. Despite the test having a mark of out 20, it seems to be the source of all the inspiration i have when it comes to calculations. There is much i learnt from that test mark [while other learners were still recalling their Dec-Jan holiday moments, i put much effort towards the test hoping to build a future in education – i am a testimony as, surely, i am slowly building this and its coming up in good shape].
All the confidence i have when it comes to calculations was born in that particular test – i enrolled Advanced level mathematics in 2005 with boldness which was brought from the test and i made it as well. In my Ordinary level, i got an ‘A’ and a ‘C’ at an Advanced level (13th grade) – this was not common in my rural areas. The principle i relied on was ‘not to use statistics of the previous learners‘ performance to determine my outcome – i am unique. This turned to be the reality and i still base on this same principle. I do not feel a challenge to set a target in scoring a 100% mark in a test even in summative tests which at times weigh up to 40% towards the whole module mark. With a basic principle which guide me, i am always certain in attaining my set mini-targets.
I usually guide myself with principles. I always seek to identify the ‘principles observed’ in specific topics i cover. Since the beginning of the year, i have been frequently meeting with my group members mostly on Saturdays for revision and assignment purposes. I always emphasised observing the underlying principles all the time. For example, in writing assignments, i urged everyone to follow the format requested by every lecturer and where no structure was asked, i urged everyone to follow a ‘standard academic research thesis/dissertation or a journal article. When it comes to modules involving calculations, i urged everyone to observe the topic specific related principles. One of the basic principle i usually referred to is ‘BOMDAS’ or ‘BODMAS’ – very basic but it applies in many instances. I always said, there is no-way to get it wrong when it comes to calculations and has been a reality to me.
As part of a study i was doing towards writing journal articles that sought to ‘identify the academic performance factors at tertiary level‘, i once offered a free tutorial to Financial Management 2 Class in the ‘Entrepreneurship Diploma‘ course in preparation of their final year Exam weighting 40%. As i sent them an invitation email, i decided to title the ‘Tutorial Theme’ as “Attaining a 100% Exam Mark“. In this tutorial, i explained how students could make use of basic principles to attain a maximum performance i.e. scoring 100% mark. It is very easy to attain than in any calculation based subjects.
These were the main points:
1. Having a Exam strategy – a learner should know exactly how they are going to tackle the exam. This is assisted by knowing one’s progress mark. This helps to set the exam score target. One should also know the total marks of the question paper and the duration. This helps in allocating the appropriate time to be spent in every question. With this, a learner would be able to attempt all the questions.
2. Prepare one-self thoroughly – summative exams are not meant to surprise learners, but to test whether learners are ‘competent’ or ‘not-yet-competent’ (as per outcome-based assessments). Also, learners cover all the learning areas during their formative sessions. This could spell out that exams should not be surprises to learners in any how. I always urge my group members to comprehend the study guide as it has all what learners are expected to know. Therefore, once the learner makes use of such precious resources, one would be having an idea of how the questions would look like.
3. Arm one-self with relevant principles – i am sure every topic or module has specific principles that applies to it hence observing them would always direct learners in the right direction. Apply them appropriately.
4. Utilise maximum speed – on this one i always find it challenging to explain as some learners are naturally slow when it comes to writing. However, the principle of ‘practice makes an individual perfect’ serves to explain on my behalf that learners should be constantly practising to enhance their accuracy, understanding and speed at the same time. I always encourage learners to revise almost everything at their disposal especially on calculation-based modules with an aim of identifying various principles.
5. Never allow time to think during the Exam – i always remind fellow students that as part of an exam assessment, we are also tested on time management, taking few seconds to think is not recommendable from my side. I believe in the continuous flow of information throughout till the end of the exam and this is mostly possible when one has fully prepared for the exam – just like a sponge saturate with water.
Completing my second semester of my three semesters for my Btech. Degree in Business Administration at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, i would like to confess that despite the pressure brought by the course to fellow learners, every assessment to me seemed to be yet another ‘early Christmas present’. I was glad in the first place when i looked at the course modules as i knew anything involving calculations is a ‘morale booster’ to me. Out of the ten modules, half of them involve some sort of calculation. Besides the two to be done in the last semester (Managerial Economics 4 and Financial Management 4), this semester had the other three involving calculations: Production and Purchasing Management 4, Management Accounting Aspects 4 and Financial Accounting Aspects 4. It had been an interesting semester for me though to other learners it can be described as a ‘most trying and tormenting one’ as indicated by a significant number of dropouts not mentioning the alarming failure rate.
The experience has been great and the course has been very insightful. It helped me to explore some other avenues of opportunities such as considering venturing into the provision of Financial related decisions (personal and corporate investments) as well as considering focusing on a financial management related dissertation for my masters qualification in the near future.
3 REASONS WHY STUDENTS DO NOT PERFORM EXTREMELY WELL IN THEIR EXAMINATIONS
Some days back, a friend was asking why is it that some students find themselves worried with their examination preparations. I was also not sure until I took a deep analysis on the way I approach my exam preparation. After that, I noted the following:
- At times, students worry much on the subject areas they are weak. This has many effects as discussed in the below paragraph. In 2004 when I was studying for my ‘O’ level final examinations, a term before my final exams, I made a self-assessment and learnt that I was very good in Mathematics and Integrated Science yet I was weak in History and English. Such assessment helped me to drop Ndebele, one of the subjects in end of my Form 3 in 2003 after I realised that I am far from getting a pass with little or no gains from the subject in the future. Yes, it was a right decision – my career is not even fashioned in line with it in anyhow. What I did in July 2004 was this, I increased my study time on English and History yet reduced my proportion for Mathematics and Integrated Science. I was happy that it worked as I attained passing grades of which it was very crucial passing English language. It is always better to master the concepts one have a better understanding and later on spend time on the ones which needs time. this does not only increases confidence, it also increases the chance for scoring a high mark and further builds motivation to tackle even the hard topics.
- Students lack an interactive-study approach. This is a powerful study method which I have realised it helps me to study for understanding rather than just passing. At a certain point, I found myself reading volumes of articles, tweeting a lot, BUT I was sure I was studying to forget. I asked a friend who could remember some concepts which he lent some 10 years back. His secret is: “If we study to understand, apply or interact with the knowledge in real life, chances are high that the level of understanding is increased”. It was clear to me that I used to study without interacting with my daily experiences. After I applied the method of study, I discovered that it worked big time for me. It then reminds me of the quote which confirms that individuals understand better when they use an interactive approach.
- Some students approach the exams without a game plan. This is very dangerous as, without a target, one is bound to hit any point. Surely, it is difficult to measure achievement without any goal. Ensure that you make small goals on daily basis and check whether you have achieved any before you sleep. Checking on what made you to be more or less productive helps in improvement for the next day.
- In all you do, always ensure that you always ask reflective questions which helps to blend one’s daily activities towards the grand plan.
- Try the interactive approach when studying. Make efforts to understand building from all that you have experienced or know. It is a bit difficult though in some subject which its material is purely new such as arising from the technological advancement.
- Be goal oriented. It all starts with a small goal, being accountable for the outcome and working upon doing better the following day.