Thank God I met her! I was discussing with one of my students some few days back and got so enthralled by her attentiveness and the sharpness of her memory, so much that I almost gave her a prize. I pressed further to discover that she was very serious with her studies, has a disciplined reading habit and attended all her classes. With all those plus marks, I queried her excitedly to find out the quality of her grades. It was here that the frowns and hisses started to roll in. Unfortunately, her grades did not correspond to all these meticulous efforts for excellence. And guess what? She is not alone! There are so many students out there who put in so much effort into their studies but have very little to show for it. And most times, they can’t just tell why…
I have also discovered severally, that for some reasons unknown to the student, the paper grade fails to correspond to the intellectual grade after exams (refer to my previous post “WISHING OR WORKING? THE WAY OUT…”). So many students complain: “that is not my result”, others blatantly accuse the lecturer of failing or victimizing them. While I do not entirely dismiss all their claims to victimization, it will be better and more reasonable to say that the student did not clearly ‘bring out’ her ideas the way she wanted to bring them out ab initio. Hear this: for any time you fail to make your anticipated grade, it means there is something you should have done (written) that you did not do; or something you should not have done (written) that you did.
Intellectual delivery is one sure nugget of academic excellence any student who desires resounding academic success must dare to acquire. This is because it does not ultimately matter how many times you come to class, how many hours you’ve studied meticulously, how much you currently know in that course or even how many times you have taught others; what actually matters most is your ability to bring out these ideas on paper to such an extent that when the examiner intellectually converts them, you hit an A’. No matter how much you know or have studied, your examiner may never know except you ‘show him’ in your answer sheet. He will never and can never enter your mind notwithstanding how many times you came to class or answered questions. He will only judge you based on what you have on paper. If you are already thinking in line with me, then there is every need to master the secrets of intellectual delivery!
So many times, your exam question may demand more than just a one-sentence answer to convince the examiner. You may need to be more elaborate in your answers if you want to fetch more marks. Note this: you can make a point; you can hit a point; you can also strike a point. It all depends on your ability and skill in intellectual delivery. See it this way: every exam question is a problem you are expected to proffer solution to. I will say it again and again: the very first step towards answering any exam question is the proper understanding of that question. Never forget this! So I will advise you to always ask these questions to yourself before you set out to answer:
What is this question all about?
What does this examiner expect from me?
What and what does he like as a teacher?
How does this examiner want his questions answered?
How do I answer this question to fetch all the marks available?
A smart intellectual delivery will necessitate a maximal intellectual conversion. It takes more than just studying very well to excel in exams. In fact, that you studied very well for an exam does not necessarily guarantee your excellent grade therein. Good intellectual delivery does. To achieve a powerful intellectual delivery in your exams, follow these 10 simple steps:
Always ask yourself before you start answering: what does this lecturer want from me in this question? Behind every question, there is an expectation from the examiner. Knowing and answering from that angle will increase your chances for a good intellectual delivery.
Make sure you keep to the examiner’s specifications in answering your questions. When he says something like: ‘describe in details the effects of antibodies on the white blood cells?’, ‘critically analyze the role of language in the early development of a child’? etc, mark the instructions and follow them. Don’t define when you are asked to discuss. The more specifications you miss, the more marks you lose.
Do no rush to answer. You should not be in a haste to start answering. Take a little time to coordinate and organize yourself on how you are going to answer the questions. Starting hastily can make you miss some important striking details that would have fetched you more marks. Allow your brain to settle so that it can give you the best.
Write more. Say more. If you don’t capture it in the first sentence, you may likely get it in the second, third or fourth sentence. Most times, saying more will fetch you more marks and help you bring out all you have in your mind. When my students complain that “I don’t know how to put it or say it”, I usually advise them to keep ‘trying it out’ till they express what they have in mind.
Look for the right words to express yourself. The kind of word you use to answer your questions will determine the weight your answer will carry. You cannot answer a question on ‘democracy’ without ever mentioning the word ‘government’. You cannot effectively explain ‘molecule’ without using such words like ‘unit’, ‘element’ or ‘compound’. Don’t forget this: you can make a point, hit a point or strike a point depending on the nature of words you use.
Deliberately use the words and examples your examiner used in class. Who does not like and appreciate it when people quote him? Once you ‘beg’ him rationally, he does not have a choice but to give it all to you…
Give illustrations and examples when necessary. They help to buttress and elucidate your point. It’s also a mark of confidence and maturity to give examples in order to substantiate your points when answering a question.
Try to cultivate a good hand-writing and avoid using clumsy and informal abbreviations. Your hand-writing and your expression can increase or reduce your marks. Be very formal and smart in your writing. That’s a little secret.
Give extra: say more than you have been asked if you have the opportunity. Let the examiner know that you know it to your very fingers! It is only during exams that you are given such opportunities to prove yourself to such an extent. It usually fetches you more marks and more privileges and recognition. After all, the difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ is just the extra!
You must also develop the disciplined habit of cross checking your answers after writing. It takes disciplined patience to do this! One mistake or omission can turn your answers upside down and make you mistakenly mean the opposite, thus ruining your answer. It is a mark of responsibility to go through your answers after writing. Learn it, practise it and make it part of you. It will help you a lot.
You surely need a sound understanding of intellectual delivery to make your ideas and points count to the examiner and further be translated into powerful grades. You don’t have to struggle with academic imbalance anymore! It is now time to make your paper grade to reflect your intellectual grade and daze your classmates. Information is power! You have all it takes right now…
P.S: Do you think I have not meticulously expounded the tenets of intellectual delivery and you have some more ideas? Or do you want me to address some other personal challenges affecting your delivery in the exam hall? Shoot all of them in the comment box below…
Yours truly motivational,
The Academic Coach