This text is taken from Improve Your English Through Comprehension Practice by Christina Lim Cher Kee. System Publishing House Pte. Ltd. Singapore. 2001.
A professor of education who has conducted major studies of super-achieving students revealed that top grades do not always go to the brightest students. According to him, other education experts and top students themselves, it is far more important for a student to know how to make the most of his or her innate abilities.
The students at the top of the class attain academic excellence by mastering a few basic principles that others can easily learn. To begin with, top students know how to set their priorities right. Study time is never compromised for phone calls, television programmes or snacks. In other words, it is always placed above recreation. In addition, top students make a point of study anywhere or everywhere. A top student who is also a top athlete memorises biology terms as he works out every day. Another student learns a new word every morning while brushing his teeth. Among all the students interviewed, every one agreed that study times are strictly a matter of personal preference. Some thrive at night when all is silent. Others prefer to study as soon as they come home from school when the lessons are fresh in their minds. However, all agreed that consistency is a main factor if one is to perform well at all times.
A student must also learn to be organised. For example, a top student who is actively involved in his school band, track and field, rugby association and debate team disclosed that he keeps his things in their proper places because he simply cannot afford time-wasting searches. Another student immediately files the day's notes in colour-coded folders so that they are available for review nearing examination time.Another technique advocated by top students is to read effectively. This includes speed-reading, improving one's memory or retention ability, and actively asking questions that will lead to a full understanding of the author's message.
It is also important for students to know how to schedule their time. They must know how to pace each assignment or project according to their daily timetable and work ability so that they might not be overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. Being able to set timetables not only allows students more time to review and polish their work, it also prevents them from procrastinating. Top students believe that a secret of their success is the taking down of good notes during lessons and using them for revision. One student revealed that she writes notes from the text on one side of her notebook and those from her teachers' lectures on the other side. This allows her to review both aspects of each lesson at once. The student also revealed that instead of wasting time whispering to friends and getting ready to rush out of the class just before the bell rings, she uses those few minutes to jot down a two or three-sentence summary of the lesson's principal points. She then scans the notes to refresh her memory before the next day's class.
Another winning formula which teachers promote lies in a student's ability to hand in neat work. According to one professor, the student who turns in neat work is already on the way to scoring an A. In the classroom context, it is equally important for students to speak up and ask questions. This is perhaps the best way for a student to clarify any doubts. Classroom participation also demonstrates a student's intellectual curiosity. As a student concisely puts it, "Better grades come from better understanding."
The value of studying together was demonstrated in an experiment conducted at one top university. The study revealed that students who discussed homework and problems together, tried different approaches and explained their solutions to one another scored higher than those who laboured on their own. The experiment also illuminated the value of hypothetical tests conducted among the students and on their own. This means that students frame tentative test questions based on their notes and give each other or themselves written examinations the day before a test. Experts confirmed that students who devise possible test questions often find many of the same questions during the real examination and thus score higher.
Another technique employed by top students is to do more than the assigned homework. A student revealed that if her teacher gives five problems, she will undertake ten. In the student's words, "Part of learning is practising. The more you practise, the more you learn." Last but not least, all experts and top students agree that the most important "secret" of super-achievers lies in the crucial contribution by parents. From infancy, super-achievers were taught the importance of learning by their parents. The latter set high standards for their children and held them to those standards. They encouraged their children in their studies but did not undertake the work for them. Instead of pressuring their children, these parents were always loving, gentle and took pains to explain and motivate. They impressed the lessons of responsibility on their children, and the children delivered.