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The A-Student





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Published by Tochi J. Okoro at Shakespir

Copyright 2017 Tochi J. Okoro

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Chapter1 – Don’t Compete, Never Compare

Chapter 2 – You Have the Capacity

Chapter 3 – Find Your Tribe

Chapter 4 – Set Goals

Chapter 5 – Map Out a Strategy

Chapter 6 – Stretch For Excellence

Chapter 7 – Fight to a Finish


About Author


Excellence is what makes the difference in the color of our skins, the language of our tribes, the location of our nationality and the everyday expressions of our lives. The alphabet ‘A’ represents excellence extraordinaire.

We live in a world where none wants to fail, wants to be considered the second best whether in school, in the office, the society – nobody wants to be used as an example for a mistake made. The truth is that, the society has fed the masses with the comparison and competition norms that are negatively affecting lives today. You are not considered brilliant if you are not first in the class; you are not considered a good child if you cannot measure up to your brother’s success. You are not considered smart if you cannot be like the other manager that left the office before you were summoned in. The world has made you look inferior, incapable, powerless, confused, and frustrated because she has compared you, your abilities, your talents, your potentials, your God-given gifts to that of your neighbour’s. You are no longer in tune with your real self. You have been made to compete with and compare yourself to others. Life for you is no longer fun anymore because you cannot measure up to the society’s standards; but before you quit, remember greatness lies in your gene.

True excellence is the competition we have with ourselves against our true goals. Regardless of what the society says, if you can reach your life mark, you have succeeded. Join me as we explore innate potent ways towards reaching your life goals.

Success is being all you were made to be competing with yourself”



Have you ever been in a situation whereby you missed answering a question correctly and your classmates for failing the question laughed at you; how did you feel when that happened? The scripture says your glorying is not good. Perhaps, you are told that you have to go head to head with others to stay ahead and to employ any means possible if you have to reach your goal. If you do not come out the first in your class, then you are no good they assume. They stage seminars breeding unhealthy means of achieving your goals, putting you away from your true self and against your colleagues.

Is competition then bad? Let us see…


Competition is going head to head with someone to win a prize. Competition is to fight to be crowned a winner. Competition is a contest for a prize or reward.

To compete, means to contend, to seek or strive for the same thing, position, or reward for which another is striving to contend in rivalry.1[
__]Competition can be healthy and at the same time unhealthy. Healthy competition is the competition with yourself against your goals; to compete with you not with others; to fight to win in line with your goals and not another to strive with your goals to release your true self-worth.

I quite understand that if there are no rewards people will not strive for the best. However, competition against another is not the key here; it is the alignment of oneself in accordance to the prize or reward to be obtained that is of immediate repose. The question is not whether competition is good or bad; it is a question of focus – what you are competing for and not with because the prize is the standard of measurement and not the other individual. To compete with another is to compete unhealthily, because competition with another will lead to:

1. Distraction from your current and true goals

Minister and author Joyce Meyer quipped, “If we are not secure concerning our own worth and value as a unique individual, we will naturally find ourselves competing with anyone who appears to be successful and doing well.” A focused single-eye student knows what to do and what not to do. Pastor Myles Munroe noted “…distractions take us off course, we cannot maximize our potential if we allow ourselves to be distracted…To maximize your life you must stay focused on your purpose and avoid distraction through discipline.”

Distraction is losing focus; distraction is forfeiting your true worth for something else; distraction is standing up when you ought to be sitting; distraction is looking at others with whom to compete.

Whenever you compete with others whose goals are different from yours with a desire to beat them, you will be distracted. for you cannot keep on ahead if you keep looking at others. They have their aspirations, they have their plans that they have set for themselves. Your intention is to get ahead of yourself and reach your goals. Do not try to beat another, but rather seek to improve yourself to become better than you were. Distractions stop us from advancing towards our goals and may inhibit our performance towards excellence.

2. Indirect influence

I bet some of you are not where you set out to be this term. What goals did you write before you started the session? What targets did you decide to hit this year in your studies? Are you still on track to academic excellence? Rather, let me ask you, ‘where are you on your goals?’ American motivational speaker Les Brown quipped, “Evaluate where you are.” What did you see that made you stopped running, stopped believing in your dreams of making good grades in school, or even believing that your goals are not important? Presumably, you have been looking outside of yourself, when you should have been looking inward to bring out the champion in you.

Let us consider this scenario.

Mr. A sets out at the beginning of the term to achieve the above goals in his school because he wanted to do better than he did last term; but in his class, Mr. B has been the one heading the class with his own style of study. If Mr. A goes to school and says ‘ I will beat Mr. B this term’, the tendency is there for Mr. A to abandon his own personal goals to copy the methods and style B had adopted to run his race or be intimidated by B’s methods. If Mr. A continues like this through the term, Mr. A would have succeeded in either reaching B’s goals or falling short of his. Artist Stewart Johnson noted, “Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves. To break our own records, to outstrip our own yesterday by our own today, to do work with more force than before”.
Mr. B’s strategy was his to effect his goals, and there would be no way Mr. B’s method will effectively influence Mr. A’s goals to true fruition; for every goal has its own unique strategic plan.

3. Unhealthy limitation

Did I hear you say it is okay since Mr. A did not fail those subjects! If Mr. A limited his ability to pursuing his goals, then it is not good enough. Indeed his goals were higher than that of Mr. B, but he chose to settle for less because he was competing unwisely. Mr. A would have attained his own records if he had striven with his own goals.

4. Low self-esteem

Why do you act the way you do? Maybe, you think you cannot answer those questions in class? Do you know why you do not want to try solving the mathematics problem? It is the belief you have about yourself that is limiting you from becoming your best. The image you have of yourself as a student is critical to your academic prowess. What do you believe about you?

The conditioning process of your mind is that anybody that heads the class must be better than you must; anyone that scores the highest in a particular subject must know it all. You feel you cannot even match up to others standard because you are not in any way better, you assume.

You are good and better than what you are showing right now. I am not trying to say that you are better than others are but that you are better than what you are currently displaying. They are better in their own ways. They have discovered themselves and are working hard and well to master themselves to do much better. You have stayed low at the bottom because of your mindset. You have to discover your true champion capacity, believe in yourself, trust God, re-arranged your thoughts, re-organize your schedules, and re-position yourself to do better. Start seeing yourself as capable and not incapable; able and not unable, good and not bad, because you can make it. Build healthy relationship with your peers and start living out your true self.

5. Low performance

Low performance is performing below standard. In this regard, performance here, goes beyond your academic goals, it is performing below your true self.

You have capacity for high grades, you have talents that you have not developed yet, you have greatness within you. When we look outside of ourselves, we are tempted to see the impossibilities of what we cannot accomplish; but when we look inward, we see the possibilities of things we can achieve and of who we could become. The student who compares himself with others, competes with others, and refuses to use his God-given gifts because of others, will actually display a low expectation of God’s will for his life.
Comparison and competition breed substantial grades and results.

6. Selfishness and hatred

I remember an experience I had in my senior high school days, when I was in class 2 (SS2)-- after seeing my Further-Mathematics test script and that of my classmate Kaosisochukwu, I noticed the difference in our scores, and I wasn’t quite happy. Due to self-insecurity, I detected a ‘supposed fault’ in Kaosisochukwu script. In addition, unknown to him, I quickly returned his script back to our subject instructor so his mark would be reduced. After I had carried out my plan, Kaosisochukwu received his script, and discovered that his score had been Kaosisochukwu realized I was behind his score reduction and did not take it funny. He went back to our instructor with his script, and his score was corrected.

I acted out of a low self-esteem of self-insecurity and myself in that I returned Kaosisochukwu test script to our instructor for the deduction of his score. I felt unsecured of him scoring higher. Indirectly, I was saying ‘I want you to be low as I am.’ I believe that one time event made Kaosisochukwu lose trust for me as a friend. Now that I have grown a bit in understanding, I know the worthlessness in comparing, competing with others, and the indiscreetness of being intimidated by others performance.

Nobody might have told you that competition with others will make you self-centered, selfish and full of hatred. Students that compete are in rivalry with themselves. They all want to win and would make sure that other student do not get the crown. You may wonder why neither you nor the other student do not want to explain that math solution to yourselves; why you do not want to remind them of the assignment given and deadline for submission; and why it irritates you when others stand to answer questions in class. It is not because you do not have what it takes to standout; it is because you do not believe in yourself and you cannot stand seeing them succeed.

The person you are denying assistance is not your problem but you. Novelist Ayn Rand revealed, “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve and not by the desire to beat others.” You do not believe in yourself enough, that is why you see other students as threat to you goals and glory. If you will have confidence in yourself, set your own standards(goals), work towards achieving your goals, not being intimidated by others performances whether past or present, and assist them with what you have when needed, you will see yourself climbing the ladder of success and soaring high.

7. Stagnancy of life’s purpose

If you do not know purpose, you do not know reason. If you do not know the purpose for your life, you quite do not know the reason for your existence. What is purpose? Purpose is the reason for a thing. Life’s purpose is the reason for your life. There is a reason for your birth; there is a reason why you are here on planet earth.

There is a reason why you are in your country. A student who understands purpose will run away from comparison and unhealthy competition. God designed you specifically for a divine purpose. He made you to champion a worthy cause, do not go through life trying to be like someone else or to compete with someone. Life’s purpose can be missed if you do not discover yourself, develop your talent(s), sharpen your skills and use your abilities. God’s Prophet Daniel, in his book wrote “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (11:32 KJV)

8. Unfulfilled

Some, if not many, are frustrated in their current state. They are unhappy because of what they did in the past. They are identified with the slogan ‘If I had known…’ what was that that they should have known? If they had known that being true to themselves is one of the steps to true success; if they had known that self-discovery and self-mastery are the steps to excellence; if they had known that pursuing their God-given dreams is one of the steps to true greatness, they wouldn’t be in the ‘if only’ land of regrets. It is good to aim high in life but it is dangerous to get distracted from your true goals because of comparison and competition with others. If you do not want to go through life in regrets and frustration, you must live full every day to the best of your capabilities. Strive to achieve your goals, relate well with others, be committed to God and His purpose for your life, keep off from distractions and sin, renew your mind every day with God’s words, and become all he has made you to be.

Lack of fulfillment comes from the phrase not full, which means not full.

The emptiness we feel in our heart is a result of the many goals we have put off from achieving when we got distracted. This emptiness makes our hearts ache because of the vacuum created which should have been filled with all good rewards. If we continue walking this path, the vacuum will become bigger, and our heartache will increase. Let us repent today and start reaching our goals and touching lives with all of our good resources.


Healthy competition is the competition with yourself against your goals.

You cannot keep on ahead, if you keep looking at others.

It is okay to look at people and learn good habits from them, but it is not okay to copy all they do or compete with them. Be yourself.

God is the author of life, Satan is the author of all evil. But we are the authors of our own limitations.

Every goal has its own unique strategy.

A constant rejection of your true self-worth leads to low performance and low self-esteem.

If you allow others to intimidate you, you have already allowed them to define you.

Life is not all about competition and comparison but, self-discovery and self-mastery.

It is good to aim high in life but dangerous to get distracted from your own goals.



Man was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness- Zig Ziglar

WILLIAM started school about 1947 but his academic record was discouraging. He was beaten by his father and teachers to study but thought he was being disturbed. Not only that, he repeated class 2 while his mates moved on to another class, and was moved to class two again but it was class 2B.

When it was time for Williams to sit for his entrance examination into standard three, he was playing and sleeping when he should have been studying. When the result was released, he thought to himself whether he would pass or fail.

Another time, when he was in standard four, his teacher found him playing and laughing, and was furious with him; the teacher called Williams and said these words to him, ‘why are you laughing, of all people? Arithmetic you don’t know; English, Geography you don’t know…anything that you know, and you have time to laugh in your life.’ Still and all, his performance still raked poor grades despite the corrective measures expended from his teachers.

Notwithstanding, he got to standard five (Primary 6) and was pushed out of school for further studies. William said he did not have secondary school to go to—I was lazy beyond description. Reading was trouble for me but I could play. Eventually, I was sent to a modern school-the only thing that interested me was the use of water colors; the other subjects didn’t interest me.

His father later took him out of modern school into another school. While he was in class 1, class 2, class 3, and class 4, he had no significant impact on his academics. The comment on his report cards read ‘if he could read, he would do better. Let him work harder.’ I would not write my note, neither understood life, education nor anything he said.

In 1960, in class 4, while other students had gone for holiday, he stayed behind. William said to himself ‘look at my age now, and school certificate examination is coming next year, am I going to live my life like this?’ that period of reflection had an impact in his life. While on holiday, he collected other students’ notes and wrote them. I said I was going to make it. In geometry, I was getting 5% until class 3, chemistry almost nothing, and in history sometimes complete zero.

William made a decision in class 4 that he was going to rectify the cause of his failures. Others thought he would not make it through. That year in 1960, he passed his exams. When he got to class 5, the first day he resumed school, he wrote his subjects down and fixed A1 -grade goals to his subjects- he participated in class, asked questions and did what he was supposed to do. He studied for his school certificate examination and sat for the exam. When the result was released, he emerged with one of the best results from his class. When it was time for him to go to the university, his father said he did not have the money to send him for HSC (Higher School Certificate Examination). William told his dad not to worry, picked up advanced level on his own, and began studying. He sat for the exam, and when the result was released, he had A 1 in pure mathematics and A3 in applied mathematics. As he progressed in his academic pursuit, the University of Ibadan admitted him into the institution. William continued developing himself, studying despite the odds. By the time he rounded off his undergraduate programme, he came out with the best result in the whole of the University.

William later went to the University of Lagos for his Postgraduate studies, where he became a Mathematics Lecturer.

Today, William, the young boy with the discouraging academic records is known to the world as Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi, the founder of Deeperlife Christian Ministry.


I heard another inspiring story of a young boy who I will call Femi. Femi disliked mathematics when he was in secondary school, and seemed not to be interested in the classes. He must have probably thought of himself incapable of getting good grades in math.

As Femi struggled with his continuing aversion for Math, a female student whom I will call Kike, who was admitted newly into his school, approached him for assistance in the subject- he must have exclaimed within, MATHEMATICS! But there was a problem; Femi liked Kike but wasn’t interested in Math, and she had asked for his help because he was her senior. He was on a bridge between two opinions, whether to say ‘NO’ and lose the opportunity of being Kike’s friend or accept her request and gain her friendship; but Femi chose the latter.

Before Femi started tutoring his new friend, he devised a strategy to learn the topics from students well informed than him in math so he could teach Kike. He made sacrifices to learn topics of his previous class so he would be fit to explain to Kike. Not only was he learning from other students, he became interested in his own classes too so that he would be well grounded to assist his friend when she gets to another class. Unknown to Femi, for the likeness he had for Kike, he developed himself in Mathematics, and his grade improved because of his commitment.

That singular encounter changed Femi’s perception about the subject, Mathematics. His performance improved in class, and he came out with one of the best results in Mathematics during his time. After secondary school, Femi went on to study Mathematics at the institution.

Femi had the capacity for high grades in Mathematics all along but thought he could not do well in the subject, and did not commit himself to improving. Until he became committed to mastering the subject, his grades did not improve. Likewise, you can also do much better in your subjects if you would pay the price of commitment.


There are many students who are of the opinion that others are responsible for their low grades: they blame their teachers, schools, parents, and even resort to putting the blame on their family background. Surprisingly too, the parents of these wards also join rank in assuming that the schools are the major factor responsible for their wards poor performances. We live in a society where nobody wants to assume responsibility but shift blames to others for their shortcomings: we never sat down to take inventory of our lives to see what we have not done right. When William sat down to take account of his performances in school, he did not shift the blame to his teachers, his parents or the society. In fact, they even tried pushing him towards the right direction but not all their efforts were as powerful as that of William’s. It therefore means that it is our decision that ultimately counts in the journey of our lives. He took the initiative to improve, and demanded of himself responsibility for his own learning.

In the pursuit of academic excellence, nobody puts in more as you the student: you are the lead player responsible for your grades whether you believe it or not. You are responsible. How do you mean? You may ask; consider a typical student’s time analysis below:

In our country Nigeria, about 8hrs is spent in our high schools. When you “the student” are in school, your teachers, the school management and the society use part of your time. You contribute about 2hrs in participating (writing of notes, attentiveness and interaction), leaving the school system with 6hrs of your time (25%). The initial 16hrs you have and the 2hrs of your participation gives a sum of 18hrs (75%) to you the student. How you invest this number of hours is what makes you a top achiever or a mediocre in your school. Time management is life management. If you do not know how to manage your time, you will waste resources.

After school hours, your teachers do not usually follow you home to continue the school activities with you: how then have you been investing your 16hrs? Even if you rest for 8hrs a day, you will have about 8hrs to yourself every day; if you go further by doing your chores for 2hrs or 4hrs on daily basis, you will be left with 4hrs or 6hrs every day! 4hrs is quite enough to make you the best student if you channel your focus right. Do you know that, even if you have 1hr or 2hrs on daily basis, you could achieve more with concentrated focus? If you spend an hour reviewing your notes and studying, you will have succeeded in investing 7hrs in a week, 28hrs in a month, and 84hrs in a term (3 months).


Time is an independent variable: it cannot really be wasted. You are either investing time towards achieving your goals or investing it towards your “non-goals.”

Sometimes in the year 2016, I carried out a mini research among some set of students on how they spend their time, and the result I got was quite appalling. The result showed that, about 59% of the students were found to have placed premium on media over their books on the scale of one hour and 47% on the scale of two hours. 41% of the students spend their time on social platforms on the scale of one hour . A particular percentage of them attested to watching movies for at least 2 hours, which if summed up, gives 56 to 60 hours in a month and 1 month in a year. Others attested to chatting over the social network platform for at least an hour, which sums up to 28 to 30 hours in a month and about half a month in a year if the habit is sustained.

Stop casting blames on your teachers, school, parents, and owe yourself to ransom for your poor grades. What happened to the high achievers in your class, your school, and in your environment? Are they not having the same number of hours you are having? You all share 24hrs. Some of you go to the extent of saying you do not have time to do your assignments, copy your notes, review your books or even study; then what do you do with over 8hrs of your time. Alan Lakein asserted, “Time is equal to life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life or master your time, and master your life.”

The other day, I said to some of my students that if they could watch movies for one straight hour or 2hrs, then they are brilliant! If you as a student you can view movie(s) for an hour, then you could as well read for an hour; but you see it as a burden studying.

Sales expert Zig Ziglar recalled, “It is not lack of time that is the problem, it is lack of direction.” Many students want good grades but they are unwilling to pay the price necessary towards achieving their goals. The problem with you is not the lack of time but what you do with time.


Did I hear you say that you are from a poor background? Your background may not have been your choice but it is not the ultimate reason for your low grades. It is your unwillingness to take responsibility for your activities and your lack of wise time investment that is the issue. I have known people who grew up in poor homes and still made it to the top; and I have seen individuals with high pedigree who performed poorly in life. It is not your background that puts your back to the ground. Your background at its best will provide you with resources or less of it. Your will to succeed is much more important than any other factor; your will is yours and no other. If you say, you want to read or study, you willed to; if you say that you do not want to eat, not to do is your will. Anthony Robbins said, “It is in your moment of decision that your destiny is shaped”; so, your will is your power tool for deciding whether you want to be a star or an average.


There are quite a number of things, which are common to man, and universal to the completely human race, one of which is ‘time,’ and another, is the academic grades. The academic grades (A, B, C, D, E, and F) are universal and can be achieved by anyone. Yes, I said anyone. A^+^-grade is neither a white man’s grade nor a black man’s grade. Is it neither a rich kid’s grade nor poor kid’s grade; it is a choice. Motivational speaker and Author Adaji Bamaiyi observed in his classic book What I See at the Bottom Chased me to The Top that, “the top belongs to all but getting there is a choice.” You can get straight As if you do what is required. Do not ever assume that you cannot achieve A^+^-grade because someone in your class has been getting them and not you. Even if you have never been graded A or B before, you can still have them. It is universal and it is your decision that counts.


Time is an investment. You cannot waste time; you are investing it on either your goals or something else. Sowing and reaping is a foundational principle that cannot be broken; you reap whatsoever you sow. If you invest your time on sleeping, talking aimlessly and hanging out with bad company, you may not get much of a success; rather, if you invest time on studying and improving yourself, you will achieve your desired goals. Ultimately, your academic status is a by-product of what you have sown.

Wisdom speaks:

[[He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
(Proverbs 10:4)]] [[
][In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
(Proverbs 14:13)]] [[
]Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. (Proverbs 20:13)] [[
]He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.] (Proverbs 28:19)


75% of your success comes from you, while 25% of it comes from others.

You cannot waste time; you are either investing time towards achieving your goals or investing it towards your “non-goals.”

You have the will power to succeed.

A-grade is universal.

Your excuse is no reason for your mediocrity.

Time management is life management.



You are only at your best when you are yourself.

The goals you have set for yourself will only work best for you if you make your plans in line with your strengths. By strengths, I meant that which brings out the best in you. The reason why you are frustrated when you read/study is that you have either played towards your weaknesses or compared yourself to your colleagues using their methods of study. What may be strength to your peer may be a weakness to you; and what may be strength to you may likewise be a weakness to other students. In the race to being the best that you can be in your studies, you have to find your tribe——find where you belong. You cannot be like every other student; God created you uniquely for His glory.

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psalm 139:14)

Your parents, guardians, instructors or teachers might have echoed comparison statements to your hearing, ‘cannot you be like him…cannot you be like her.


If you must find yourself and be at your best in your academics, you must know your best times for maximum accomplishment, and the methods that work best for you.

Steps to discovering your strengths:

1.Know what you are trying to assimilate (the material)

The first step to having academic excellence in this regard is for you the student to have a background understanding of the subject you are trying to study. What is the subject all about? Is it theoretical, analytical, experimental, or calculative?

The background information you have about a subject will make you know what to expect from such subject, whether it is more of calculation, human anatomy, chemicals, or philosophy when you start digesting its content. This concept of finding out what the subject entails will help prepare you for that which you are trying to study.

2. Know when you best assimilate (your moment)

The second step towards advancing your course towards academic excellence is for you to discover . Your best times are the moments you best assimilate whatever you are trying to study: this is when you understand the best. Your best times may be based on your body system mechanism, likeness or dislike. For some students, their best moment comes during the early hours of the morning when they have just awoken from sleep. Others prefer the daytime; some, prefer the mid-night hours, and the rest can flow with any. For me, I prefer the mid-night hours because; I concentrate and achieve more during that period of the day. My roommate at the university, Segun R. Ayodeji, preferred having his rest during the mid-night hours, and reviewed his notes before that time, so that he could have his bedtime rest. There are students who are aware of their body systems that if they forfeit their night rest, they will not be fit to carry out other activities during the day. We cannot all be the same.

Know when you work your best

Maybe you do not write very well in the morning, but excel at it in the afternoon and evening. If that is the case, then doing your homework in the afternoon will be the best time to schedule a homework/study session. Instead, do something not quite as important in the morning, like your workout. 1

Find the Right Time. You will work more efficiently if you figure out when you do your best work. For example, if your brain handles math better in the afternoon, do not wait to do it until late at night.2

We all operate differently.  Some of us are morning people who feel like crawling back into bed before the sun even sets.  Others are night owls who do not feel fully conscious until at least 3:00 in the afternoon.  Certainly, there is no right or wrong answer. 3

Irrespective of your moments, you can still succeed. There have been students who made use of the day and had good successes. We have had students who studied at night before mid-night hours who accomplished great feats; likewise, students who have utilized the mid-night hours too have had outstanding records in their field. Do not try to copy others or fit in yourself into someone else’s best times if it does not work favorably for you. Know yourself well, and discover that which works best for you.

If you are still in doubt about knowing your best moment, recast your memory back to the days when you studied, and it was enjoyable, satisfactory, in which you understood better: was it in the morning, afternoon, or night? Note that period for it will guide you in finding your best times for maximum accomplishment.

3. Know how you can best assimilate (the methods)

The third step to being the best is to know, and define the techniques you must put in place to get the best from studying. I have met students who do not only rely on their school notes or handouts but also their textbooks, on-line resources, past questions, and other helpful materials. Being the best you can be does not stop at step 1 (the material) nor step 2 (the moments), but the methods you put in place to achieve your desired goal.

How will you emerge the best in your forthcoming examination? What techniques will you adopt? What other materials will you lay your hands on? Which with past questions will you study?

The following are guides you can adopt:


I guarantee you that what you have been taught in class is never enough to make you the best you desire. For you to excel with a difference, you need the teachers which I call guides; these guides act like angels to show you the pathway to success.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitudes of counsellors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books *the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem._ [[*(Daniel 9:2).]_]

I asked my students sometimes ago how many of them had their personal textbooks, I asked not because I wanted their textbooks, but rather because I knew it will help enhance their productivity in terms of performance if they had any. Your textbooks are your teachers speaking to you through the texts. Textbooks can be called your text teachers; even in the Christianity religion, it is believed that God speaks to the believers through the Bible, and it is known that the Word of God is God Himself in the texts.

I heard a saying that, ‘If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book.’ Someone said, “Success leave clues.” There are explanations you will find in textbooks that you would not find in your notes or what your teacher has said. You will find examples in the textbooks that will broaden your understanding, give you insights, help you with clues, shape your reasoning and increase your knowledge based on what you are trying to master. In getting this book completed, I consulted with other written and spoken materials to help broaden my understanding about what I am writing on. Likewise, textbooks were written by professionals in that field to assist you in mastering your subjects. As a student who wants to be a high achiever, you must make textbooks your companion.

On-line resources

In this age of information technology, the internet is one of your greatest resources for self-improvement; found in it are billions of information, as observed by Olakunle Soriyan the CEO of Olakunle Soriyan Company. The on-line resource guide has been positioned to assist you find the path to excellence in your studies. If you use a mobile phone that connects to the internet, and you don’t use it to source for more information about a particular topic or subject matter rather than using most of your internet data bundle chatting (purposeless), then you are wasting resources for that which can add to your knowledge base.

Use your mobile phones to your advantage to get relevant information about your current discipline and areas of study. Your teachers resort to the internet to surf for information, the business owners do so too, and you are not exempted from this practice; for this is the ICT age (Information and Communication Technology).

Past questions

While at the university, I discovered that some of my lecturers repeated questions, and that helped gave me the understanding of the importance of past questions.

If you are in a class, let us say SS2, and you found out that the subject instructor for your class was the same subject instructor for your direct up lines (your immediate seniors); wisdom should tell you that if he taught and prepared their questions, he is likely to repeat some of those questions in your current class. Why is that so? Some teachers might not want to go through the stress of setting new questions again, what they would rather do is to report to their reserve, and source for questions. This happens in the educational environment due to some factors. A similar experience happened in the school that I taught. In one of the terms in a session, the management decided to set questions from their reserve, and guess what, the result was not impressive for students who did not explore past-questions.

Teach others

Another way by which you can retain knowledge is by sharing what you have learned with others. When you teach or explain what you have learned to other students, you not only benefit them but yourself too. What you teach or speak about, you are most likely to remember.

Other methods

There are other methods that you can put in place to enhance your performance as a student, it may be that you prefer using ‘key points’ over reading the whole note again, or you prefer to record what you are reading so you could listen to what has been recorded. Whichever method suites you, use it. Some may choose the use of alphabets to represent important points for reminder. This method is okay too.

Cramming is not the best for students. You may choose to memorize but do not cram. Seek first to understand what you are studying, and you will see that what you understand, you will be able to explain because you understood. The use of cramming may assist you for a while, but in the end, you will discover that your understanding had been unfruitful. Study well with good methods to finish well.


Being in a particular environment does not mean you should limit your focus or ability on what you can achieve. I am reminded of the statement made by Nigerian futurist Olakunle Soriyan; ’you can pass the test of locality and not pass the test of universality.’ Is the present academic input enough to distinguish you when placed with other students from other countries? Are you seeking to be a global leader in your field or are you content with your local awards?

If you must be a global student irrespective of your background, tribe or country, you will have to raise your standards. Do not settle for what you are being taught in the class, the textbooks used by your instructors, or the definition given to you by your teachers, search out other definitions and methods of solving a particular problem on a broader view. Broader view, you may ask. Broader view means looking beyond your environment and going around the world to see what and how things are defined, problems are solved (the internet has made it easier for you to travel the world without you leaving your base). There are textbooks you can read and download online; there are new researches that clarify your understanding about your subjects and their topics. Whatever you do in this stage, let it not be reading only to pass exams but studying to learn. Get all you can get at this stage and you will be glad you did.


Have you found a career path, which you would like to tread? A student without a destination in mind cannot be assisted effectively in pursuing a career that they neither know nor have chosen. Career guidance is only effective when the path you are embarking on is known.

Choosing a career or a course that you would like to study in the university would not be much of a challenge if you know your core strengths and weaknesses. Before you start selecting your choice of study, assess yourself on the following:

Which subjects interest me the most?

Which subjects do I perform excellently?

What will I like to study in the university/what will I like to be?

If you know the subjects that interest you, then you have a clue to your choice of career. The subject that interests you may not necessarily be the one you score the highest, but it could be a sign. Identify those subjects.

Consider this observation; it is possible to have a natural inclination for something present and not willing to stick with that thing for a long term. While the subjects that interest you may act as a guide but not the only guide: will you want to be involved with these subjects in the next five years? If your answer is in the affirmative, then you can go ahead towards choosing that which interest you. If you answered is in the negative, it may be that you just have likeness for those subjects, and not that you wished to get yourself involved with them for a long time. This equally, is a clue for you to back off.

The subjects you perform excellently can also guide you to choosing a career path. This is not the ultimate determinant factor towards selecting a course or discipline to study. In our educational system, it is commonly assumed that if a student is quite outstanding in subjects involving calculation, then that student will be better fitted for Science department or Commercial department. This may be the case but not always the case. I have seen students who went into Arts and were exceptional in calculation (Mathematics). It is equally wrong to think that Arts students are not good at calculations. Being in a particular department is a choice and the above philosophy should not be your sole reason for choosing a course to study.

If you have asked yourself on the above factors, identify what you would like to study in the institution and If you discovered that what you have chosen as a choice is not in alignment with the subjects you perform well, don’t be discouraged, and don’t be in a haste to change that which you have chosen; there is always room for improvement. Even if you have not been performing well in those subjects, it does not mean you are a failure and cannot pursue that which you desire. It means that you have to improve your expertise on those subjects. To achieve this, you have to strategize and create an action plan towards achieving your career goal.


Your academic is not in the only place where you have strengths. There are other areas of your life that you possess a high level of strength that is unique to you as a person; and that area is your God-given talent.

Everyone is endowed with at least one talent or more. We all have natural talents that have been deposited in us since creation. For me, it is music: I love composing songs and singing. The discovery and utilization of your talent is vital to your fulfillment in life. You are not to let it lie dormant, but to use it to God’s glory. Your talent may be singing, playing of instruments, acting, artistry, or even athletic etc.

People around you may not support your talent, do not be discouraged. Even if your family, teachers or friends do not approve of your God-given talents, it does not mean that you should not improve yourself or your ability. If you do not develop your talent, you may experience a life of regret if you see others doing what you know you could do well and you are not doing it. Nobody will live your life for you.


Always remember that you cannot be like every other person, and do not try to be someone you are not.

For you to discover your talent, you must know the activity you do with less effort . What do you do naturally that others seem to struggle with; that when you do such, it makes you happy, and allows you to exercise your creativity? Find out that unique quality for it is a clue to discovering your talent. We all have that special drive that is unique to us. Be yourself.


You are only at your best when you are yourself.

It is only when you have discovered yourself that you can give your best.

Your best moments are your best times when you best assimilate.

You can’t be like every other person.

Success leave clues.

What you have been taught in class is not enough to make you the success you desire.

Nobody will live your life for you.



Anywhere is your direction without a goal; and any grade is your choice if you do not have a goal.

AFTER seeing my second semester result, I noticed my CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) had dropped beyond my expectation and that did not make me happy. The grade I saw gave a rethink; it did not make me get mad at the people who made good grades, but I had to re-access myself. That led me to assigning a goal for each of my courses for my 300 level first semester. I was determined on improving my grades, and adjusted my tactics by going to school to study over the night, making use of past questions, and getting more interested in classes.

During the course of my study, there happened to be this lecturer from my department whose course the students dreaded due to his style of administering lectures. His method of lecturing probably must have scared the students, and the fearful remarks made by our seniors also contributed in aggravating the students’ phobia for Engr. Adekunle’s courses (MCE 201, MCE 202). In my 200 level, I had E~s~ in two of his courses. By the time I got to 300 level first semester, I had already increased my momentum for the scores and grades I would like to have.

I borrowed my colleague’s textbook, used handouts and past questions in equipping myself for Engr. Adekunle’s course (MCE 303). Before the day to his CAT (Continuous Assessment Test), I spent the night on campus preparing for the lecturer’s course. When it was morning, I left for my residence and returned to the campus that morning with little time for other activities. That same morning, when I arrived on campus, I sat for MCE 303 test, which was scheduled for the early hours of that morning.

Few days after we had written the Continuous Assessment Test, I was standing with a fellow student from computer science department close to the institution’s library, when my course mate Yinka Odedoyin approached us meters away to handover my test script to me. On looking at the sheet, it was (19/20); and I had one of the best scores between the two departments that sat for the CAT (Mechanical Engineering & Agriculture Engineering). That amazed me. Later that semester, I went from having Es in my lecturer’s previous courses to having a B in my 300 level first semester.

Credit to Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. (2009/2010 Academic Session)

I cleared other courses too with God’s help.

This is what goal setting can do for you. Before you start setting the goals which you would like to accomplish in studies, take the following self-assessment questions to discover your ‘deep whys’:

What did I experience in the past?

Am I happy with my past performances?

Why do I want to change now?

Am I sure, I want to change?

Am I ready to give up something to go up?

Is it because of some person I want to get better grades?

Then, state your goals

What is a goal? A goal is something you see yourself having or being tomorrow. Having a goal is not all there is, you must know your deep whys for embarking on a journey you have never gone before. For me, my previous semester results pushed me to change, to adjust my studying strategies, and to upgrade my academic status. What are your deep whys? I mean what are your reasons, motivating force for changing. Find your whys and set your standard high.


The very first things goal setting will do for you are:

1. Raise your morale and your passion to dream

2. Give you direction for your journey

3. Help you stay focused

4. Build healthy self-image and relationship

5. Glorify God

1. Raises your passion to dream

The moment you decide to change and set a new course for your academic life, your mind begins to follow suit to your new venture. The truth is that, goals help rekindle our passion for possibilities. It makes us think ‘it is possible’ whereas it seemed impossible without us having a target to hit. After the experience I had in my 200 level second semester, I set a new path for my academic, and it built in me a new drive for excellence as with the previous semesters. Goals give new passion and determination for the path we choose to undergo in our studies.

2. Gives you direction for the journey

I knew I was heading somewhere in my 300 level first semester; I knew the grades which I wanted and I knew anywhere was not my destination. Apostle Paul declared in the Scriptures, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (I Corinthians 9:26[_)_]. I was definite about my pursuit; I was to move from grade E to A and anywhere was not my destination, but the ones that I have carved out for myself.

You may be thinking that by not doing what is right God will perform a magic, No! God will help us achieve our true and godly goals. However, we must start the process ourselves. Do you have goals for God to work on? God will not set the goals for you, you have to set your own standards, and present it to him in prayer, in commitment and in working diligently. Stop using religion as a cloak for your poor performance. If you do not have a sense of direction and something specific you are trying to attain, or accomplish in your studies, then you will be disappointed. Author and motivational Speaker Zig Ziglar asserted, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” If you do not have a goal, anywhere is your direction, and any grade is your choice.

3. Helps you stay focused

One thing about setting goals is that, it makes you disciplined. Bishop David Oyedepo said, “You cannot know where you are going and not be disciplined about it.” Focus keeps you away from distraction and makes you stay committed to reaching your goals. Students without goals are not disciplined because they have nothing to be committed to. The reason why you spend time playing, chatting, visiting aimlessly, is that you are not pursuing a particular goal. When you are focused, you will do things according to priorities: it makes you attend to things that are important and urgent, reschedule for a later time things that are important and not urgent, and ignore the unimportant activities.

If you will be the best you can be, and the best student your school has ever known, you must begin now to invest your time wisely; for you cannot be a wise time investor and not prosper. Your time investment determines your results, the activities you engage in, and the peers you hang around.

4. Builds healthy self-image and relationship

There is this sense of pride you feel when you know that you are heading somewhere better: you feel happy with yourself because you are in connection with the goals that you have set to achieve. The moment you start walking towards your goal, other things begin to unfold for you. You will get to understand the various topics of the subjects you are trying to master. In addition, confidence begins to exhume upon your attempting questions because of how well you have been preparing towards achieving your goals. At this point, you will discover how brilliant you are, and this will gradually improve the way you see yourself. You will not have to compare yourself with your mates or compete with them, because you would have seen that you could attempt questions well and better too.

A healthy self-image in turn builds your relationship with your mates because of the goals that you have set for yourself; and you will no longer see your school peers as threats but partners. You will become free to solve questions together, do assignments as a team, and play together because you now know your own true value and self-worth.

Despite the fact that having a goal helps, build relationship with other students does not mean that you should be involved in examination malpractice. When you try to assist others in an examination (or the other way round), you allow two things:

First, you defeat the purpose of the examining body if restrictions have been stated, and

Secondly, you deny other students the chance to shine for themselves.

The essence of examination is to recognize students’ understanding of what they have been taught, their abilities, and worth. Our duty is not to defeat the purpose of the examining body but to allow others the chance to believe in themselves and prove their worth.

5. Brings glory to God

When we put to use our abilities and strengths into achieving our goals, we are glorifying God. Likewise, when people see our good results and outstanding achievements, they will glorify God. Laziness does not glorify God; failure does not either and neither do poor grades too. The capacity for greatness is in you; you can get the best of grades and become a top student in your field for the spirit of excellence is in you. Draw from your source.


Religion cannot be used as cloak for poor performance.

God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, you’ll reap.

Goal setting makes you disciplined.

Failure doesn’t bring glory to God.

Attend to things according to priority.



You do not become a successful student by wishing, you become a success by the actions you take in the direction of your goals.

Sometimes, I hear individuals clamoring for things they desire. One hears statements like, ‘I want to be…, I’ll like to…, and I want to have…’ What they are actually saying is that they have wishes and not goals. Any dick and harry can tell you that they would like to be the best in their class, school, and in their community; wishes are free, and anybody can wish for anything that they want. In this regard, wishes are not goals. A goal is a desire that is specific and has clarity; goals tell you that you actually know what you want to have, and what you want to be.

The question should be, ‘do I have a goal that I have laid out to achieve this term in my school? Are you clear about the grades you want? How will you achieve your goals? No one successfully achieves a goal without an effective plan (guide). If you are going to build a house, you need an architectural design guide. If a nation is going to war, she needs a plan; for without strategy to win her battle, her goals will only remain a fantasy. You do not become a successful student by wishing, you become a success by the actions you take every day in the direction of your goals.


Write down a list of your priorities

Write out your list of consistent activities

Write down a list for your health

1. What are your priorities?

In Economics, we were taught about Scale of Preference and how to list out things in their order of importance, starting with the most pressing needs to less pressing needs. As a student, if you are going to have an effective strategy and timetable, you must be able to identify those subjects and activities that are most pressing to you. For instance, a student who intends studying medicine after high school is not expected to give more preference to Store Keeping /Economics over Chemistry/Biology. Chemistry and Biology is what is most needed for that course of study. Likewise, a student who aims at studying banking and finance will not give preference to biology over Financial Accounting/Commerce. Not all subjects are of utmost importance to you. I am not saying that you should not put in your best in other subjects but that you should know the subjects, which are pressing, and give attention to them. In the past, the accepted norm was to give 100% for all subjects but, in today’s world if you will conserve energy, effectively utilize time, and channel your energies right, then you will have to adopt the above principle.

These are not the only subjects you will have to study; the table shows you subjects that are most likely important to you based on your desired course of study. This will guide you towards mastering a part of the field that you intend studying at the university after your secondary school education if you give it your utmost best. This method will keep you away from comparison and will keep you focused towards pursuing your goals.

2. What are your consistent activities?

What do you do often? What activities are necessary for your day-to-day living? Is it your fellowship time with God, resting periods, time out with family members, rehearsal time or personal exercise? Whatever they are, note them. As we cannot neglect the day and night, so we may not neglect our consistent activities. This will guide you in planning your academic timetable effectively.

3. Keep fit

Health is wealth. Body fitness and Author Mike Flynt noted, “If you don’t take care of your body, you will suffer mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.” Success in our academics should not be pursued at the expense of our health. Remember that your body is a power tool, and if uncared for, you would not be useful for the tasks, which you were meant to complete.

Remember the importance of sleep:

Sleep can seem like the ultimate waste of time. You’re lying in bed doing nothing. But if your body is tired, it won’t function very well. You won’t remember much from your study session if you had to drink a couple energy drinks to keep your eyes open. A rested body is more productive1.

Our well-being is one of our top priorities in preparing our plan. A student will perform below expectation due to the poor state of their health. If you notice any health challenge, take a break, and take care of your body. It is the student who is in the right state of mind that would be able to pursue her goals, and celebrate success. Speaker and Author Joe C. David noted, “Your health is the biggest asset you have in this life. If you lose it, you have lost everything.” If you do not get the grades, you desire today, you will get it tomorrow. If you do not achieve them this term, you will achieve your goals next term. However, if you are neglecting your health, you are endangering your life.

How to keep fit and stay healthy:

Always remember that your health is much more important than your subjects.

Eat healthy, and feed regularly.

Add fruits to your diet, and have a routine of regular exercise.

Keep your underwear and clothes neat.

Keep your environment clean.

Reverence God, keep His Word, and live righteously.


Before you can create an effective timetable, you have to understand the stages involved in forming one, which are identification, selection, and creation.

1. Identification

What you cannot identify, you cannot name. If a doctor were to attend to a patient, he would first identify the cause of the illness before administering treatment or prescribing drugs to his patient. In like manner, before you start organizing your time-guide, you should do the following:

Analyze how you spend time daily (use the 24hrs rule).

Identify the ‘time thieves’ i.e. things/activities you engage in misusing time.

Find yourself to discover your strengths i.e. know your best time for assimilation. (Please refer to chapter 3 for a broad understanding).

2. Selection

The second process of creating your time-guide is the selection. In this stage, you will choose those subjects, which are most important to you. John C. Maxwell renounced, “No one achieves greatness by becoming a generalist.” You have to be specific about your priorities.

What are you to select?

Choose the first five subjects that are most important to you in regards to your career aspiration; including Mathematics and English Language.

Prioritize the subjects, and select other subjects you are offering in school.

Allocate specific goals to each of those selected subjects (for example, English Language *B*-95%, Mathematics *A*-85%, Biology [_*B* -79% ... ). _]

3. Creation

After you might have been through with the first and second processes, the next step would then be to create your timetable. Before you start fixing in other activities, do the following:

Eliminate the ‘time thieves’, and exchange them with your study periods (as in Step 1).

State how many times you will go through your five most important subjects in a week (as in step 2).

Here are samples of an effective timetable:

Note: you will find her five (5) most important subjects appearing at least twice.

In addition, it will be advisable you make it one calculation subject and one theoretical subject.

Note: you will also find his five (5) most important subjects appearing at least twice.

Note: you also find his five (5) most important subjects appearing at least twice.

Also, it will be advisable you make it one calculation subject and one theoretical subject a day.

4. Take action

When something different is about to happen, there would be need for adjustments; and that requires effort. Effort is the activities we put in place to effect the change we seek. This is the stage where you either win or lose. Your result can be predicted in this stage if you don’t swing into action. This will not be the time for you to give in to fears, laziness, or criticism. It is here you have to cultivate the effective habits of self-discipline, commitment, focus, and sustain your drive until you master the subjects. Act now not tomorrow.


Wishes are free, anyone can wish anything.

A goal is specific: a clear picture of what you want.

Not every subject requires 100% of your time.

Your health is more important than your subjects are.

No one but you is the pilot of your plan.

Commitment is key; discipline is key; they are there to keep you focused.

Every day action towards your goal leads to every day greatness.



Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to Mount Everest or to the top of your career.” Abdul Kalam (11th President of India and Space Engineer)

AFTER the young lad was laid out of school, his mother tutored him as far as she knew how. Later in his early lifetime, Alva started carrying out experiments. In his quest to find answers to his heart’s desire, he failed many times. He picked himself up repeatedly, and continued with his research and findings for an answer. Without a clue if he was on track, he persevered on carrying out his experiments. Days passed him, weeks flew pass his face, months breezed away by his aging chin calling him for a quit, yet he obstinately refused to yield their calls. Alva’s wrong attempts gradually grew to 800 in number, yet he cleave to his belief of finding an answer. He missed targets even until 929 times, yet chose to continue!

Suddenly, he tried again, and this time it was either he was going to give up or stay through. The numbers had increased to 999, he tried his idea again, and this time, to his amazement, he had found the answer: the electric light bulb. He is Thomas Alva Edison.

Life is filled with its own challenges; you are not to be consumed by them. You were born to champion a worthy cause, conquer the enemies territory and to crossover every hurdle. You mustn’t allow yourself to be consumed by the challenges of life.


Thomas cleaved to his aspirations despite the setbacks. As you journey with great minds to excellence, there are situations you just have to expect and be prepared for:

1. Expect responsibility

A horse can be taken to a stream but cannot be forced to drink from it. No one will do what you want happen for you but you. Your dream will not be a reality except you do something. Nothing changes except you move (Kim Kiyosaki). Success in your academics is your ultimate responsibility. Likewise, your parents may take you to school, pay your fees, get you the necessary studying materials, but they cannot force you to learn. Your parents will not learn for you, your teachers will not take up the responsibility on your behalf; the society may enforce it on you but will not take up your responsibility to learn; for it is your response to your ability that counts. Responsibility= response + ability. For you to allow others to help you in your exams or sit for you is lack of confidence in your own ability. You are the one that wants the grade, why wait for others to push you before you act.

If you must excel in any area of your life, you must take the responsibility and make the commitments to grow.

How to improve yourself:

Acknowledge your ‘weak spots’ i.e. there are things that you do not know but seek to know.

Ask relevant questions for clarity sake.

Practice often.

Spend to upgrade your knowledge and skill i.e. purchase materials (like textbooks, handouts etc.) that will aid you in becoming a master at that which you are aiming to learn.

2. Expect criticism

Do not let the opinions of other people drift you away from the goals you have set to reach. It will be challenging getting to the top as a student. Your peers will be there to discourage you, your teachers may ridicule you, your family members may even doubt your worth but you cannot allow their beliefs to debar you from achieving your goals. Your resolve to succeed is much more important than what others say. One reason you may choose not to be moved away from your goals based on others opinion of you is, the fact that they cannot see what you see in your mind’s eye. Do not let them get you discouraged; reach your targets to reality.

If Albert Einstein had listened to his colleagues, he wouldn’t have become one of the greatest scientists in history; if Mariam Blackwell had listened to the male doctors who said there couldn’t be a female doctor, she wouldn’t have become one and the first female medical doctor in history; if sir Edmund Hillary had listened to his critics, he wouldn’t have climbed the highest mountain in the world. What academic mountain have you set out to climb? Is it A-grade or B-grade? It is possible! You do not have to play small because of what people are saying at your back; it is your calling and you must brace up to it. Let others lead small lives but not you (Jim Rohn)

3. Expect mistakes

“…when I fall, I shall arise” (Micah 7:8)

Have you been told that if you fail you will not rise again? Do not be afraid to make mistakes. If you fail at an exam, fail at attempting some questions correctly, it does not mean you are no better off than others; it means you missed the step. Some of the scholars who we celebrate today also made mistakes. Thomas A. Edison kept making the wrong leads repeatedly until he found the answer. He asserted, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Samuel Smiles declared, “He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery.” Some students have made it a habit not to challenge themselves for their growth and benefits. I have heard students repeating statements like ‘I have no idea’ when asked questions, when told to contribute, when asked about how to go about a particular calculations; their best response so far has often been, ‘no idea.’ It is not that they cannot talk, think or analyze, they are just unwilling to make a try, unwilling to make mistakes necessary for their learning, and they do not want others to laugh at them.

I recall my high school days in Command Day Secondary School, Oshodi, my guidance and counselor teacher asked a question when I was in SSS2. I suppose it was on ‘balanced diet’ (it has been a while now for me to remember exactly what she asked). I stood up and answered. My response, which I supposed, was this: balanced diet is the diet which *when take*… one of my classmates quickly noticed the grammatical error I made, “when take instead of when taken,” and somehow other students were alerted of my mistake and it was laughed at. I felt somewhat ashamed but my teacher encouraged me.

I did learn from my mistake and kept improving. By the time, I wrote my external examination, the initial release of my English Language was Outstanding (WAEC), while my NECO English Language result was a Credit. When I got to the university, in my first year, I sat for the use of English (GNS 101) and came out with a Distinction.

If you are particular about how others will laugh at you when you try, you will not learn, as you ought to. Vince Lombardi asserted, “Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.” Do not try to beat yourself because you missed answering the questions correctly, it is not the end of your academic pursuit.

You must learn to pick yourself up again and again, change approach if necessary, and keep trying over and over again till you succeed. How will you be corrected if you do not make a mistake? Mistakes and correction are part of learning; therefore humble yourself to make the mistakes so you would be corrected.

4. Expect growth

I picked up Elizabeth’s (my student) JSCE mathematics question paper after her exams and reviewed some questions with her. We got to a spot in one of the questions to see what she had chosen as her answer; and the option she chose was not the correct answer to the question. I explained the correct answer to her and my reason for choosing that option. I believed she understood my point. In his book, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, Steven K. Scott quipped, “If we respond to our failures by studying them and learning the lessons they have to offer, they will provide us with knowledge and insights that no other teacher can.” That was an exam she had already written and submitted, and at that, she could really do nothing about situation. Why then do I still have to bother her about the aspect of that question? It is in our correction that we are perfected. She needed that for future questions, so she would not have to repeat similar mistakes again. Some of us do not like being told the truth; we want everything to be just right. Our true successes come from what we have learned along the way to realizing our goals. If you focus solely on success and not on what you could learn, then you will not be truly successful. We are to take correction and learn from our mistakes. That is where the growth is. John C. Maxwell added, “Take a lot of chances, and take time to learn after every victory or defeat.”

Next time when you experience a little setback in your performance, try seeing what you could learn from those failures. See what has gone wrong, so you could note it to avoid repetition of wrong. Life is made of successful people who have learnt from their mistakes.

5. Expect discomfort

Aim for new heights. Expand your knowledge base. Enlarge your territory. Do more so you could become more. Some students have settled and remained in their idle state of capacity; they have settled for less that they can be. Humans are elastic beings capable of expanding to accommodate more. To remain in an idle state is to settle for mediocrity.

An elastic band when left in its idle state can fit in to anything at that state. Nevertheless, the truth is if this elastic band is stretched further, it could also fit into something much bigger or larger. If this process of stretching continues, the rubber band will keep fitting into larger substances until it reaches it strain where it becomes dangerous to expand further.

Unlike the case of this elastic band, so is the case with you the student. You can go beyond the capacity of 20%, 40%, 60% to 80%, 90% and even 100%.

Observation from the picture:

[_ It was the same elastic band that occupied 40% in its idle state. _]

It was the same elastic band when stretched that attained the capacities of 65%, 70%…

It was the same elastic band stretched further to attain a capacity of 90%.

It also reaches a place of strain.

Stretching is not comfortable, because it touches our comfort zones. It makes us work more, spend more time, accommodate more space (more commitments), and deny ourselves of some pleasures. During the course of preparing and getting this book released, I knew it was not comfortable staying up late at night to edit, type, and source for materials to see that the project was a success. If you will get high grades, be greatly rewarded in any area of your life, you must be willing to stretch beyond your idle capacity. It may mean to reduce your playing time, chatting time, visitation periods, and other things that might hinder you from becoming the best that you have to be.

Stretching, is reaching out to your full capacity to become better than you can be.

6. Expect patience

Be patient with yourself. The way it takes time for seed to germinate, it will also take you time to gain mastery of yourself. Delay is not denial. It may take some time but it does not mean you will not achieve your goals. Stay positive. Do not let the success of others keep you from reaching your own goal.

Realize that as you are trying to gain mastery of the challenging subjects, there are some foundational things you will have to know, analytical skills you will have to develop, and a thinking style you will have to adopt; do not be discouraged, and enjoy the ride to becoming a master in your field. There is a quote by C.H. Spurgoen, which reads: it took patience for the snail to reach the ark. The snail knew it goal of getting into the ark made by Noah the servant of God; irrespective of everything that surrounded the snail, she kept on moving, pushing, and stretching till she got there. You will also reach your goals if you keep pressing on, stretching hard, studying, and advancing in your performances.

7. Expect Success

American top motivational speaker Eric Thomas said, “I do not get up at 3’O clock in the morning to lose…I expect to win.” Do you expect to succeed in your exams? Are you studying to fail? Are you practicing to lose? Let me remind you that the reason you are stretching beyond your comfort zone is that you want to succeed. When you pick up your books, expect to understand. When you go for your exams, expect to come out with distinctions. When you practice, expect to win. Do not just leave the situation to chance; you must expect success and behave what you desire.


Don’t let others opinion of you drift you away from your true goals.

Mastery is life unending course.

It is in our correction that we are perfected.

Our true successes come from what we have learned along the way to realizing our goals.

To remain in an idle state is to settle for mediocrity.

Responsibility= your Response + your Ability.

Expect success.



It may take days; it may take weeks; it may take months; it may even take years, don’t give up.

Despite the odds

At age nineteen, Marie left her poverty-stricken home to take a position as a governess. For three years, she taught in an environment that left her feeling lonely and unhappy. She sent every extra penny she earned to help her brother get an education. When her brother finished his schooling, Marie saved money to buy one-way fourth-class to ticket to Paris. There, she began her own university studies. She found that her scientific studies, especially, were more exciting than any fairy tale she had ever read.

As a student, Marie lived as simply and cheaply as possible, travelling into the university on foot in all kinds of weather and spending her evenings at the library so she did not have to heat her small rented room. She continued this way through a master’s degree and then two more degree—-one in physics, one in mathematics. She did not seem to mind her poverty. She was enthralled with her studies and her friends, one of which was Pierre curie, a fellow scientist devoted to research.

Marie curie was relentless in her determination to isolate radium scorning fatigue and financial problems, not to mention a damp, icy-cold shed that was the curies’ laboratory. She often forgot to eat or sleep. In the end, she and Pierre succeeded——and won the Nobel Prize in 1903 for their discovery of radium.

She continued her work despite other challenges, and in 1911, she was awarded another Nobel Prize in chemistry, making Marie curie the first person to receive the Nobel Prize twice.


Men and women who stayed true to their commitments carried out all great achievements that have been done in the education sector. Marie curie kept hope alive despite the many challenges that befell her as a child and a young adult. The journey towards achieving any goal is not rosy as you think. There are times you’ll have to go through sleepless nights, deny yourself of some pleasures, cut off from your peers because of what lay ahead of you; Apostle Paul recounts, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (I Corinthians 9:26, 27) He was talking about the prize to be obtained for his calling in the LORD.

When you are studying with a deep interest, you are stretching; and this stretching is strenuous. Mohammad Ali, the three-time World Heavyweight Champion knew what it meant to stretch for the prize when he asserted, “I hated every minute of the training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” It will be painful along the way but, you must not settle for low grades or rewards because of the discomfort when you can have the best of awards. Keep your hope alive until you reach your goals.


If I had stopped writing this book, you will not be reading about the helpful tips outlined here nor will you be reading about me. If I had given attention to critics, neither will this book be in your hand right now, there is no glory in quitting. Do not quit because of setbacks. The goal you have set for yourself is possible (the A~s~, B~s~…, the career path, the professional path…); keep moving on, trying what you can, and putting in your best again and again. I hope you will not return to where you started. There is no point giving up, rather you lose if the cause is worth your pursuit. Before you quit trying, please ask yourself these questions:

Is this my goal?

Is this worth my time?

Will I be happy if I reach my goal?

Will I be satisfied if I do not pursue this goal to reality?

If you have answered those questions and are sure it is not worth your time, abandon it. However, if the goal or dream is worth your time, give it all it deserves. Do not stop half way for you will be THE BEST if you keep fighting for your goals.


When you quit trying, you stop growing and settle for less than you could be.

There is no glory in quitting.

There is no point giving up, rather you lose if the cause is worth the pursuit.

It may take days; it may take weeks; it may take months; it may even take years, don’t give up.


Chapter One

Pastor Kumuyi, W.F. (Minister). (n.d.). Why Leaders Fail. Nigeria.

Chapter Two

p<>{color:#000;}. Meyer, J. (1995). Why shouldn’t I be jealous and envious when everybody else is better off than I am? In J. Meyer, Battlefield of the mind (p. 307). New York: FaithWords Hachette Book Group.

p<>{color:#000;}. Munroe, M. (1992). The enemies of potential. In Maximizing your potential (p. 78). Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers,Inc.

Chapter Three

p<>{color:#000;}. Time Management for High School Students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from My College Options: www.mycollegeoptions.org › Resource Center › Parent Resources › College Preparation

p<>{color:#000;}. Time Management For High School Students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from Putnam County CUSD 535: www.pcschools535.org › High School › Tips for HS Students

p<>{color:#000;}. TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from School Guide Publications: time_management_tips_for_high_school_students.html

Chapter Four

p<>{color:#000;}. Flynt, M. (2010). Body: Sow in Health, Reap a Longer Life. In M. Flynt, The Power Based Life (p. 187). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

p<>{color:#000;}. Yeung, D. R. (2009). Work Smart, Not Hard. In The New Rules Entrepreneurship (p. 104). Benin: Beulahland Publications.

Chapter Five

Time Management For High School Students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2016, from Putnam County CUSD 535: www.pcschools535.org › High School › Tips for HS Students

Chapter Six

p<>{color:#000;}. (2003). Thomas Edison. In You Can Be A World Changer (pp. 80-81). Benin: Matthew (6:33) Christian Publications.

p<>{color:#000;}. (2003). Elizabeth Blackwell. In You Can Be A World Changer (pp. 30-31). Benin: Matthew (6:33) Christian Publications.

p<>{color:#000;}. Scott, S. K. (2009). Mission accomplished. In S. K. Scott, The Greatest Man that ever Lived (p. 170). Colorado: WaterBrook Press.

p<>{color:#000;}. Maxwell, J. C. (2009). Engage in Focused Thinking. In J. C. Maxwell, How Successful People Think (p. 13). New York: Hachette Book Group.

p<>{color:#000;}. Associates, E. T. (Director). (2016). I Expect To Win [Motion Picture].

p<>{color:#000;}. (2003). Sir Edmund Hillary. In You Can Be A World Changer (pp. 109-110). Benin: Matthew (6:33) Christian Publications.

Chapter Seven

(2003). Marie Curie. In You Can Be A World Changer (pp. 66-71). Benin: Matthew (6:33) Christian Publications.


Tochi J. Okoro grew up in Lagos, and graduated from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, where he studied Mechanical Engineering with a Second Class Upper division.

He was part of the MTN Foundation Science & Technology Scholarship Scheme awardees for three consecutive sessions (2011/2012 – 2012/2013). Tochi also served as the President of the Editorial Board CDS group (Community Development Service) Batch B, 2014; during his National Youth Service Corps programme (NYSC).

He is an educator, a musician, and a student peak coach on subjects of self-discovery, talent management, and personal development. He serves as the Principal Consultant of Creadents Impressions.

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The A-Student

Excellence is what makes the difference in the color of our skins, the language of our tribes, the location of our nationality and the everyday expressions of our lives. The alphabet ‘A’ represents excellence extraordinaire. We live in a world where none wants to fail, wants to be considered the second best whether in school, in the office, the society - nobody wants to be used as an example for a mistake made. The truth is that, the society has fed the masses with the comparison and competition norms that are negatively affecting lives today. You are not considered brilliant if you are not first in the class; you are not considered a good child if you cannot measure up to your brother’s success

  • ISBN: 9781370991631
  • Author: Tochi J. Okoro
  • Published: 2017-05-21 05:05:17
  • Words: 14821
The A-Student The A-Student