I have a friend whom I have known since secondary school days in the early 1990s. We were together in college as well. He is now completing his PhD in China and is a lecturer at one of the popular University campuses. There was one unique feature about him in school as well as in college. He needed to grasp the concepts as they were introduced in class and then immediately read about them then the knowledge is stuck with him for life. Basically, he has a very good sense of long-term memory. Once he commits knowledge to his long-term memory, he will not forget. Conversely, he struggled with material that was taught a few days before examinations because such material was still in his short-term memory, which was not his best of talents.
He was a star student and I will argue that it was not as much because of his amount of long term memory as it was down to his being aware of his unique style. He had quickly discovered what worked best for him as a student and what did not work for him. It was interesting how at the end of his degree programme, most of the people that he used to socialise with got so disappointed when they discovered that this friend scored a high class for his degree while they did not. They had all along thought they were all in the same bracket. What they did not know was that their friend relied much more on what he heard in the classroom or lecture theatre plus some quick and immediate review. They had not really discovered their personal rhythm.
I had another friend, a civil engineering student—popularly known as Kabila at the time (May his soul rest in eternal peace). He used to socialise quite a bit and spent little time on studies for the long part of the term or semester. However, around three weeks before the examinations, he would stop socialising and he would spend a lot of time reading and revising his work. He, too, was a star student and got his degree with a high class.
You can observe here that Kabila and the other friend had opposite strategies. The other friend made sure he understood the material early on and committed it to long term memory. Kabila waited until near examination time and committed his material to short term memory. Both had similar levels of academic performance although they were in different study fields.
What was common between these two good friends was that they had each discovered a unique personal style, personal rhythm. Their peers that used to socialise with them had no clue to what worked for them best and so they did not optimise their academic performance.
The two case studies above are only for illustration purposes but not the only styles, or approaches that you can use to excel in academics. There are many different styles fitting each person differently. Some students study best in the evening after dinner and go on up to late night like midnight or even later.
Others make the best of the early morning hours at say 4 am and so they prefer to sleep early so that they can wake up early because their brain works best in the morning. Basically, we are all different. Every student needs to work to discover his or her unique rhythm that works best for optimal academic performance.
This means that as a student, you need to avoid going by group theory. Avoid following your friends blindly. Be guided by what works best for you. And to discover what works best for you, all you need to do is observe your behaviour, conduct and compare with the results over time. There is no one size fit all hard and fast rule for this. It is purely down to personal experience and personal observation.
Now you know the importance of discovering your personal style, personal rhythm as a student. Good luck as you work to discover this so that you can optimise your academic performance! n