My ‘attempt’ (if you can call it that) at giving study tips…

“How do you become smart and get good grades? What do you do?” I got asked that question by my mom’s friend, whose child isn’t doing well in school, few days ago. I seriously don’t know how to answer that question. I said that you must have a passion for studying 🙂 But honestly, I only said that just for the sake of having an answer. 

Now that question haunted me again days ago when I was invited, along with several of my former classmates and seniors, back to my former secondary school to give advise on the current Sixth Form students who are doing their A levels (Find out more about it here, here and here).  I think some of the students that I met are reading this because I gave them my email and they would probably see my blog address besides my nick on MSN Messenger. So I like to say Hi and Welcome! to those you who are reading this.

Click “more” to read the rest of the post

“How do you get good grades? What do you do?”

I told them that there are different ways to study and achieve good grades but amusingly they seemed to be not satisfied with my answer and continued to press on the question. I told them how I study but I quickly pointed out that, again, it depends on what suits you. These students who were sitting around me (we were divided into groups) and again looked to be not fully satisfied with the answer. I knew what the problem was and it was that they were looking for the ‘golden rule’. A single technique/idea/rule that can be applied and guaranteed to succeed. So I quickly came up with several ‘golden rules’: ‘Know yourself‘, ‘Know your limitation‘ and ‘the most important thing is have a strong will to study, doesn’t matter if you’re good at memorizing or really good in english, if you don’t strive to study then it’s bullshit‘ (I didn’t say bullshit but I said something similar to that in Malay in terms of its expression). So they start nodding their heads, probably finding inspiration from those wise words that I just made up in few seconds :mrgreen:

OK fine, there are different ways to study and it’s up to students to choose which way suits them. Who cares about that but what I do want to know is how YOU study?

Fine fine fine….I’ll try my best to explain how I study. I’m a visual learner, maybe not completely but mostly a visual learner. I’m a visual learner in a sense that I find reading paragraphs of blue/black coloured writing of mine to be boring. If you’re bored and uninterested than you wouldn’t be able to absorb any shit to your head. (Hell, some say that reading my blog is boring because I tend to write more than I post pictures) What do I do? I make it interesting to read and study.

  • Rarely use paragraphs for notes. Use bullet points and headings
  • I make it colourful with the help of my highlight pens. eg. For my History notes, I had Green for every main heading, Pink for subheadings, Orange for any extra points worth highlighting, Yellow for dates and names. 😛
  • Diagrams/spider webs/mind map/sketch map or whatever you want to call it. REALLY USEFULL! It’s a cliche and classic by-the-book technique that you take for granted. Seriously, it’s F***ing USEFULL (Note the fact that I even swear to emphasise its usefullness).
  • Have a break during revision. Not too frequently which would slow down your revision but also not too scarcely because that would drain your brain and you would not learn anything. I know a guy who lock himself in the room and revise for 3-5 hours non-stop. I called him crazy but he still get good grades but I still think he’s crazy. It works for him but hell no it won’t work for me!

Past Papers/Essays

Another thing that surprise me was how most of them know my name and know the subjects that I took and the grades that I got for them! Wah Wah!! Turned out that most of them (at least those who are taking History, Geography, Sociology and General Paper) have copies of my past essays that the teachers kept. I felt strange at first but then I thought about it more and remember a name: Pei Wei. It’s a name of a student who used to be at our school and she was the top student in History (and her other subjects too) Basically, she was a very good student and I never met her before or maybe I did but didn’t recognize her. Anyway, the point is that I don’t know her personally but I have an almost complete set of copies of her essays for Sociology and a few for History. I was familiar with her style of writing and her ideas (eg. in most of her sociology essays, she always use her own examples instead of ripping off from textbooks. So I would give her points for originality). But I never copied her style but only used it for hints on what points I should use or what kind of essay questions I expect to answer during A levels exam. I never intended to copy her style because that’s not how I write therefore I’m not comfortable copying her style. If you’re not comfortable than you’re not writing it good thus you’re not doing well and you don’t get grades. Wow!! did I just set another ‘golden rule’ Hehehehe

You’ve been to schools outside Brunei before so you got exposed to education system that are better than the local education system. That’s why you get good grades

Nobody said this to me during my session with the A levels student because I don’t think they know how many schools I’ve been to (so far, 7 schools from 4 countries. 8 if count Bruneian religious school in the afternoon) but it’s something that many of my Bruneian friends believe in. Yes, I do have an advantage but that doesn’t make any difference. I know a Bruneian guy who’ve studied overseas before and came back here still didn’t do well with in A Levels and then you have guy who’ve been studying in Brunei all his life under the local education system and get like straight As and other stuff that I don’t even come close in achieving. What makes a difference is whether you want to study or not.


If you like this post, you might be interested in my other post about Arts programs in school. It’s a nice companion piece, I think. 


I’ll leave you with a video of Mr.Bean taking an exam. Did I mentioned that I’m a big fan of Mr.Bean? Hehe

Anyway, good luck to the Bruneian students who are doing their A levels this year 🙂


3 thoughts on “My ‘attempt’ (if you can call it that) at giving study tips…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s