PREFACE Every year many students and schools(especially those from Northern Kenya) lead Kenya’s national exams (KCPE ) from the bottom, with the best students from the entire region notanywhere close to the publicly announced top 100 spots in any of the otherCounties. In the past, the schools in Northern Kenya lacked core textbooks andthe students didn’t know why they were sent to schools. Today it’s different-they know the value of education and they have access to essential textbooksand reference books including encyclopedias, maps, dictionaries, etc. Parentstoo, nowadays, understand the value of what they are lacking- education- andlike their counterparts in other parts of this beautiful country, they areleaving nothing to chance.
They have joined the educational rat race thatequates learning with textbooks and are, thus, spending money and time on extratuition for their children. So where is the problem? Well, it is anacknowledged fact that in most schools we’ve shortages of qualified teachers,that course syllabus is not covered on time, and that CDF money is misused andas a result schools lack proper tuition and sports facilities such aslibraries, laboratories, and playgrounds, amongst others. Students’ morale andreading culture is also poor. But is that the cause of our dismal performance?I wrote this book to answer this question. The truth is that many high schoolstudents lack the effective study skills required for high school success. Iwell recall the day I sat down to begin writing this book.
Several studentsfrom a secondary school in my neighbourhood had engaged in examination cheatingand consequently their results were cancelled. I felt deeply concerned and told myself that I should do something tohelp this group of disappointed students. I knew that the work required moreability than I possessed but I felt I should not feel defeated. I wasdetermined to offer my share of help.
I, therefore, immediately organized atuition program for all Form three and Form four students in my locality andgave them a motivational talk. A large number attended my tuition and gainedthe appetite for top academic achievement. Iam an avid reader of motivational stories. I know this work will have apositive impact on your academic and after school life. Through the many greatbooks I was privileged to read I discovered that we were created to upliftothers.
That’s why I compiled these chapters for you. I want to be successfuland I want the same for you. As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything youwant in life if you just help enough people get what they want in life”. HoraceMann also says, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves”. Thus,this is my effort towards making a difference in the lives of my fellowlearners. In a way I’m giving back to the society that gave me education.Though all these words are not my own and most of the concepts are borrowed,this is my original work and I am hopeful it will bring positive change in thegrades students attain in their national exams, especially those from NorthernKenya and in particular, my Mandera people. This book was written with the soleobjective of helping learners achieve academic excellence.
Whether you’re afreshman in college looking to get ahead, a teacher seeking study skillsresources for your pupils, or a high school student just trying to surviveyou’ll love this work. If youwant to learn how to study smarter—not harder—in order to improve your gradesand succeed academically, this book is for you. This guide will provide you witheverything you need in order to learn how to learn more effectively. Read on to discover what your learningstyle is and how to use it to read, take notes, and prepare for tests moreeffectively. INTRODUCTION Do you study hard and still do not dowell on your tests? Are you tired of your teachers calling home about work youdid not do in class, poor grades or for late homework submission? What do youthink is your problem? Do you know how to study? Do you waste time whenstudying? Do you have a good place to study? Do you know your learning style?Are you trying to figure out why you are not a top achiever despite the effortyou put in your school work? Well, worry no more. In this book I’ll guide youon how to take the journey to the top – a journey travelled by all smartstudents! In order to excel in high school,students must develop both an understanding of the factors that lead to failureand the key strategies critical to achieving academic success. I wrote thisguide to help you understand how to study smarter and achieve academicexcellence.
Success in school is due to motivation, time management and goodstudy habits and study skills. Study Skills are approaches and techniquesapplied to learning that enable learners to make the most efficient use oftheir time, resources, and academic potential. They are an array of skillswhich tackle the process of organizing and taking in new information, retaininginformation, or dealing with assessments.
These skills are generally criticalto success in school.Developing and improving their studyskills can help students:• To make more efficient use of theirstudy time – get more work done in less time!• To make their learning easier, andhelp retain what they have learned for longer.• To feel the work and effort involvedis worthwhile; it ‘pays dividends’. Anyone who is engaged in learning canbenefit from developing his or her study skills. Regardless of whether you arepreparing for high school, or have already started on a course of study atcollege, you can always improve your ability to learn, retain, and retrieveinformation. The aim of this book is to help you develop better studystrategies, so that you can increase your chances of being successful in highschool and whatever you choose to study, thereafter. I’m not a teacher by profession or an education expert by any means,but through my thorough research I’ve discovered that there is no one “best” way to learn. Itis increasingly recognized that people learn in different ways.
Some peoplelearn best by doing; others prefer to learn by listening or reading. Some learnbest in group situations, others learn best alone. The secret is to find themethods and techniques that work for you, and to maximize on these.The techniques and methods suggested inthis text are intentionally chosen to cover a wide variety of learning stylesand preferences; by all means adapt them to suit your preferred way. You canbuild on techniques that support and improve your preferred styles byexperimenting and adapting with techniques from the various sections in thisbook.
Remember that, whatever stage of learning you are at, it is always usefulto practice learning in a variety of ways, experimenting with different styles oflearning. The more versatile your learning repertoire is, the better you willdo all round. In preparation for this book, I spent hours readingeverything that I could find on the subject.
I read articles and journals tofind the best ways to learn more effectively. This book, therefore, is simply acollection of practical suggestions and techniques that has worked for many ofthe students from prestigious schools in Kenya and other nations. I’ve also used most of the tips outlined inthis guide over the course of my academic carrier, so I can verify that theywork. How to get the most out of thisbook Have a deep desire, driving desire to learn, a vigorous determination to get top grades in every subject you study.
Read each chapter rapidly before going onto the next one unless you are reading merely for entertainment As you read, stop frequently to think over what you are reading and how you can apply each suggestion. Read with a crayon, pencil, pen or highlighter in your hand. When you come across a suggestion that you feel you can use, draw a line beside it or highlight it. This will help you review this work rapidly.
After reading each chapter thoroughly, you ought to spend a few hours revising it every month because the use of these strategies can be made habitual only by a constant and vigorous campaign of review and application. There is no other way. I have tried to present it in an easy-to-read, straightforward manner. Use the methods and techniques that work for you; discard the rest. The result will be that your learning is more efficient and more enjoyable, which is the true test of any worthwhile activity! Becoming a smart student requiredesire, dedication and a lot of work. If you’ll take the time to learn andpersistently apply the study skills concepts and principles set forth herein,you’ll not only experience an amazing improvement in your performance but alsoa boost in your ability to learn in general – and that will benefit you therest of your life! Enjoy your learning! STATE YOUR PURPOSE “Aninvestment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin.
“A human beingis not attaining his full heights until he is educated” – Horace Mann. Students failor get lesser grades when they don’t know all the factors that are necessaryfor passing exams and getting good grades or when they do not pay attention tothese factors. Some of the important factors that guarantee exam success andgood grades include; desire for academic success, approach to study, attentionto details, punctuality in class, methods of preparing for exams, exam takingstrategies, making good and helpful notes, method of learning, confidence andstudy related extracurricular activities. To get good grades you have to aspire for it. Anystudent, who does not realize why they need to succeed, will fail. To be ableto understand what you want out of school, ask yourself these questions; why am Iin school? Why am I studying? What do I intend to gain from school? How willhigh school help me work toward my other life goals?Is there some better place I could be? What does my presence here meanto me? What are the advantages/disadvantages of studying now rather thanlater? Does the grades I get matter? Is there a way for me to achieve mypurpose? Ask yourself these questions every time you sit down to study. Haveconversations about the purpose of education with yourself.
Successful students are motivated by whattheir goals represent in terms of career aspirations and life’s desires.Think about your aspirations for the future. If your educational goals are truly yours, theywill motivate a vital and positive academic attitude. You’ll be able tofocus on your final goal and work hard towards its achievement by seriously investing your energy, timeand other resources. You’ll be able to relate studying to your life goals. Ifyour life and future depended on how well or how much you studied, would itmake sense to do it well? If you cannot see the point in studying, it will onlymake it boring and tedious. Half-hearted or distracted studying is a waste oftime.
You have to put meaning into your studies in order for them to bemeaningful to you.One of the best ways to foster great study habits isto think of school as a job. In this job, studying is a valuable key forsuccess, and certain hours of the day are to be dedicated to study. By adoptingthis mindset, you can prepare yourself to study regularly and avoid makingexcuses. You must genuinely view studying as an essential activity that mustnot be avoided.
You must have a mission statement in life. This issimply a set of guiding principles which clearly state where you are going andwhere you want to be at the end of your academic life. A mission statement willkeep you steadily on the course of your dreams. Simply studying withoutdirection is not effective. Set your academic goal! Set highstandards for yourself. Makea promise to yourself, and others, that you’ll get acceptable grades on testsand complete all your homework as required. Take action if your marks startfalling before someone else has to point it out to you.
Find ways to motivateyourself, and convince yourself that you want to get into university more thananything. Motivation is the key to success!Take charge of your life. Have you ever wonderedwhat smart students do to set themselves apart from the rest? There is no magictrick that makes a student excel in the classroom. Students stand out becausethey take charge of their time and their tasks, without relying on anybody elseto tell them what to do. Successful students don’t put others in charge oftheir lives – not even their own parents or teachers! SET YOUR GOALS “All who haveaccomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goalwhich was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible” – OrisonSwett Marden.
The processof setting goals allows you to choose where you want to go in school and whatyou want to achieve. By knowing what you want to achieve, you know what youhave to concentrate on and improve. Goal setting will give you long-term visionand short-term motivation. Having sharp, clearly defined goals, which you canmeasure, will allow you to take pride in accomplishing those goals. It willmake you become a better believer in your academic ability.
Your academicgoals must be, SMART:S = SpecificM =MeasurableA = AttainableR = Relevant,Rigorous, Realistic, and Results FocusedT = Timelyand Trackable Learning howto frame goals as SMART goals and being willing to adjust them to get SMARTERis an important skill that would help every student get off to a better startand have a better school year, this year and into the future. Here is apractical example, starting with a typical, but not especially SMART, goal:I will do better on my report card in the nextmarking period. Here is a wayto make it SMARTER: In the next markingperiod, I will get at least a C+ on all my math tests, and at least a B+ onmost of my quizzes and homework assignments. But it is notSMART yet because it has no action plan. Here is some pretty SMART goal: In the next marking period, I will takecareful notes and review them at least two days before tests and quizzes sothat I can ask the teacher questions about what I don’t understand. I will domy math homework before I do things with friends, and when I hand it in, I willask the teacher about anything wrong, I will make sure to ask the teacher, orone of my classmates how they got the right answer. It is important for you to take controlof your life.
At the beginning of the school year, set goals about what you’dlike to accomplish. Do you want to improve that below average math grade? Makethe science congress team? Bring up that C in Chemistry to a B? Then atthe beginning of each month, review those goals to see if you’re on track. When you haveseveral goals, you should give each a priority. This helps you avoid feelingoverwhelmed and helps your attention to the important ones. To make goals more meaningful write themdown.
Then read and revise them upwards frequently. It’s not easy to write SMART goals. This skill takestime to develop, but it’s especially important to have in place for everywinner. It is a universally accepted fact that however many of us are great attrying to set goals; most of us are practically incapable of following throughwith them. Make sure you are not a culprit of this! Sometimes, goal-setting cango wrong for a number of reasons too.
When these happen it can be a great bitdevastating to your self-esteem and can make the idea of setting any new goalsmute. To avoid problems, make sure your goals are not unrealistic,disorganized, too many, vague or set so high or too low.