The Need to Prepare Well

… My First Post Graduate Exams Experience

By Mercy Hill

I had just gained admission to run my post graduate studies in Mass Communication at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, September 2020. And then, lectures began almost immediately. It was a very confusing time for me because I had to combine schoolwork and my job as a journalist. But I had to cope. I was still struggling with how I could get used to the system when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on a strike and then, I was forced to stop lectures and other school activities.

The strike continued for days, from days to weeks and then to months. The truth is that I read my books for a few weeks and when we were sure that COVID-19 had accompanied the strike to a lockdown, I gave up. Dusting my books and packing them into my little drawer was the only option I thought I had then. The need to face other options as the lock down lingered, flashed through my mind.

Month after month I never opened these books, although I sometimes took a peep at them whenever the fear of forgetting the ones I knew came on me. But I was quick to abandon them when I felt discouraged with the unending strike. I wish I did not. Yes, maybe I would have used that opportunity to read my books better, I would have at least had an edge over others.

Just after one year of the strike, examination timetable was out, and we had to write eleven papers in one week! My heart skipped as my brain started reformatting. One part of my brain was telling me public relations and the other was telling me advertising principles, the other part was telling me photography, my head was a total bomb waiting to explode. I thought it was an attempt by the school to bring students back, but it was examination seriously. My class representative’s number which had not appeared on my call log for almost six months appeared suddenly. He called to remind us of the first three papers on Monday and the need to submit all assignments quickly. Assignments? I asked myself. Do I still remember my registration number, not to even think of assignment?

It was that moment I dragged out my books from my drawer and began studying again. Imagine yourself reading three courses at the same time for an examination slated for the next day!

My dear readers, I read like it all depended on the reading and prayed like it only depended on the prayers. After much tension and panic attack, we wrote the exams. The questions were not alien to me, but they seemed like mountains before me because I failed to prepare.

What am I trying to bring out with this, maybe uninteresting, story of my examination experience?

That no matter how tight your schedule maybe, you as an individual, must set goals, plan and prepare to achieve them. My story may not be all encompassing, but it is a way of giving you a glimpse of how people fail, even in the things they know best.

The following comes from the book “Goals” by Brian Tracy. It is one of the best books, if not the best, I have read about goal setting: There is a six-P formula for personal and business success: “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” There are seven advantages to “Proper Prior Planning”.

First, the planning process forces you to organize your thinking and identify all the key issues that must be dealt with if you are ultimately going to be successful.

Second, thinking through what you must do to accomplish your goals enables you to plan your actions carefully before you begin, thereby saving you enormous costs in time, people, and money.

Third, a good plan, thoroughly discussed and evaluated, enables you to identify flaws and errors that could prove fatal to your business later. It enables you to ask, “what if?” questions. For example, “What are the worst possible things that could happen if you were to take a particular course of action? “Or what are the materials I need for a particular course?

The fourth benefit of proper prior planning is that it enables you to identify weaknesses in your plan and make provisions to compensate for those weaknesses. Often, you can identify a “fatal flaw” that would lead to the failure of the enterprise. This is only possible by going through the planning process.

Fifth, planning enables you to identify strengths and potential opportunities that you can take advantage of to increase the likelihood of success. Often, you will be unaware of your strengths or the opportunities that exist in the situation before you go through the planning process. When you plan even as a student you are double times ahead of others.

The sixth benefit of planning is that it enables you to focus your time and money and concentrate all of your resources on the one or two objectives that you must achieve to make something successful. In the absence of clear focus and concentration, you will tend to spread your energies over a wide area and accomplish very little.

The seventh benefit of proper planning is that it will inevitably save you hours, weeks, and months of confusion, mistakes, and losses of both money and energy.