Secrets of a Top-scoring Student - A Blueprint for Success in School

Secret 3 - A Blueprint for Success in School

Before Lessons
Content Preparation
Every lesson relating to the subject is an opportunity for solid preparation, so ensure that you are ready to sit and understand every single lesson. In other words, each lesson should be treated seriously.

That said, in order to understand the content in every lesson, it would be optimal if the lesson material is anticipated beforehand. This is called content preparation. The day before each lesson the day, read the chapter in the textbook to be covered at least twice to get a basic idea of the concepts to be understood. Create a list of questions to be posed during the class. This will allow you to map a mental strategy on how to conquer the subject...

The famous saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Content preparation is one of the most crucial steps to be taken before each lesson. Imagine yourself going into the classroom without any form of reading done. The teacher goes straight into discussing the concepts of the chapter, assuming that the background reasoning has been done. Immediately you are lost. In fact, the whole lesson is wasted because you are not able to follow the rest of the lesson. Only the ones who had been diligent enough to do their reading would have been able to follow.

The above example goes to illustrate that content preparation, apart from helping you to understand better, is a factor that gives its practitioners an edge over the other students, by laying a foundation for further learning. Other advantages of content preparation include the possibility of studying the material at your own pace before being subjected to the hurried pace of the classroom lesson.

Plan your Day
Another strategy used by many top-scoring students is planning the day and setting agendas. Before the next day begins, they already have a comprehensive idea of what they have to do. A common method is to draw up a weekly timetable. Take a sheet of paper and create three time slots; the first for the morning, the second for the afternoon after lunch and the third for the night after dinner. Create seven columns after each of the days of the week. For each day, list the lessons that you have in each time slot.

Why should you bother to do this? The reasons are simple. If you know the lessons that you have on a particular day, you will be able to prepare the suitable textbooks and stationery to bring. Another reason is that it allows you to do a mental check the previous day and to make sure that all the work (or homework) has been done for all the lessons. Lastly, it allows you to slot in your other leisure activities in the time slots that are free.

In addition to a comprehensive timetable, consider a To-do List. But not just any to-do list scribbled on a piece of scrap paper. If you do this, all your to-do tasks will probably be scattered everywhere and it would extremely difficult to find the list when you need to check on your tasks to be accomplished.

I suggest using a small pocket notebook, the size permitting it to be carried easily in the pocket anywhere. Create two sections: Urgent/Non-urgent. The urgent tasks being the ones that need to be done on the actual day and the non-urgent ones being those that can be delayed. What I try to do is to cross out the ones that have been completed. This simple action can be especially psychologically beneficial. When you cross out the tasks on paper, it builds your confidence because the task has been surmounted successfully. The same action also brings mental relief because you can now relax now that you have one less piece of work.

At School
Punctuality and Regular Attendance
The importance of this cannot be further emphasised. In fact, being punctual is good but it is even better to arrive 10 to 20 minutes before the start of each lesson. The spare time that you have can then be used to prepare your stationery and more importantly, to read through the notes of the previous lesson. When the lesson starts, you will already have the content in your mind and you won’t need to waste precious minutes trying to figure out what the teacher is talking about.

You may ask, ‘’What if I am just late by a few minutes? It won’t kill, would it?’’ Well, being late for a lesson may seem trivial but it has long-term repercussions. When you arrive late, it is normally in a rush and with heavy breathing that you enter the classroom. The late arrival is harmless in itself, but the time spent cooling down and preparing the material to be used can be substantial. Then more time has to be spent finding your bearings, i.e. the chapter the teacher is covering at the moment. By the time all this is done, a substantial chunk of the lesson would have passed.

More importantly, being late is also very disruptive to the class and disrespectful to the teacher or instructor. The same goes for regular attendance of classes. It is all right if the occasional bout of flu prevents you from attending a class but if the absence becomes regular or a habit, therein lies the danger. Why? Lessons are normally structured in layers. The first lesson covers the basic concepts, the second builds on the concepts covered in the first lesson and the third on the previous two lessons. And so on. To understand the content of a particular lesson, it is normally necessary to master the previous lessons. How can you expect to attend the last lesson and expect to be ready to sit for the exam that is based on the entire syllabus?

Top-scoring students understand this fact well. If you observe carefully, the ones who fail their exams are usually those who arrive late and skip lessons periodically. On the contrary, top-scoring students make it a point to arrive punctually and attend their lessons assiduously.

The above is reproduced with permission from "Secrets of a Top-scoring Student", a book written by Linus Tham and published by ARMOUR Publishing Pte Ltd (

To find out more about the book "Secrets of a Top-scoring Student", email ARMOUR Publishing at

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