Snippet: Exams are a test of exams.

Yoosuf Zuhry
4 min readJun 4, 2021

As someone who has been passionately advocating for normalizing conversations related to reproductive health, I have always thought of feasible ways to get my message across to the masses. As a first step, I decided to organize a lecture session for a bunch of students at a public school.

Delving through my connections, I was able to get in touch with one of the country’s best and most experienced Gynecologists. She was undoubtedly a stalwart in her field of expertise. Having done her higher studies in one of the world’s best universities, there perhaps was no better person to do this job for me. And guess what? She denied any form of payment. I had landed a jackpot.

The principal of the school volunteered to make necessary arrangements for this particular seminar. He had got the pre-sent tutorials vibrantly printed. Stage decorations were done. And the boys were excited. This was the first seminar. I had Neil Armstrong’s infamous quote running rent-free in my mind. “This is a small step for a man, but a giant step for mankind”, he said as he set foot on the moon.

I could here the vroom of the Mercedes get more and more intense. It stopped at the entrance of the hall. Neatly ironed shirt, perfect crease on trouser, the chauffeur stepped out and opened the back door. A gush of deluxe fragrance swept from within the car. Just as majestic as the arrangement was, the lady stood out. I could feel a chill going through my spine. Surely she meant business. The boys were going to turn over a new leaf when they went home from school today.

Once the traditions and formalities were gotten over with, the lecture began.

*cues suspenseful music* *fast forward*

Hah. The only time she had the boys’ attention was when she displayed pictures of you-know-what on the slideshow. That, by far was one of the most pathetic displays of public speaking anyone would see. The monotony was like a funeral. With the pictures (of you know what) being the occasional Marie-biscuit and Nescafe you got. The boys oos and aas at the sight of the pics was the odd relative profusely crying over the deceased. She never interacted with the students (Does a dead body say hi to the guests? I don’t think.) And guess what? All the boys were dressed in white. And looking at the glum face the lady held after her dirge, I was pretty convinced the Mercedes was the hearse. And this description of mine still understates the sad nature of the session.

Few weeks later, I got a Toastmaster who was also a doctor but not a specialist, to redo the session. This time I felt the party. He even sang WAP (Cardi B Song). He even performed the “dance” during his presentation (This was a session on reproductive health BTW). The Coke distributed was the liquor. The boys were very energetic in their responses. Coincidently the boys were dressed in coloured too. It was a public holiday. Going home, some of the boys were high on laughter, re-stating the jokes he had mentioned. Weeks later, I visited the school, and the boys were recalling moments from “that aiya’s (brother) session.”

My point being, you could be a master at whatever the subject that is being spoken. But to speak it out and get your message across, you need to be an accomplished speaker. You could have studied at the best universities in the world. You could have studied from the best teachers the planet has. But if you haven’t learnt the art of speaking, you will never be able to get your message across to the audience.

See the second speaker wasn’t a professional gynecologist, but certainly got his message across.

BUSINESS END: The same applies to sitting for exams. You could be a master of the subject content. You could know all of Newton’s papers by heart. But to write an exam paper within a stipulated time, you should know how to write an exam paper within a stipulated time. You need your analytical skills and time management skills to come out all guns blazing. You need to have the experience of previously having sat for similar exams.

In fact, a study by one of the leading school’s in the country stated that 67% of the students who obtained 3As for their GCE ALs had completed 20 years pf practice papers 3 times over. And 26% had done so 2 times over. I recall having friends who could not necessarily put together an explanation of a particular concept but always aced the exams. They had sufficient practice with past examination papers. Always.

In conclusion, to write an exam paper within a stipulated time, you should know how to write, manage your time in, and apply your analytical skills in an exam paper within a stipulated time. Whether you come in a Mercedes or a bullock cart to an examination hall, will not matter. If you know the art of the exam, you WILL ace it.

Practice at home with mock exams. Find out where your missing out. Tinker with your approach. Identify and amend the chinks in your armour. You will certainly do your exams better

Now go fill up your water bottle, set a stopwatch, and start doing the 2020 past paper.

(Having done some research on high performance habits, here is the most data driven video I came across. I would highly recommend you to watch this. Video link: )