Beat your lecturers to their game

kizmartins's picture

In my very first semester in the university, I encountered a stiff and strict lecturer whom before he even resumed for his first class with us, we had already heard a lot of stories and tales of how his course was very tough to pass and how hard he was on student, we even nicknamed him Hitler. No doubt, he was our new nightmare and when news came that he was involved in an accident, we prayed that he shouldn’t survive not because we nursed hate for him but because we were too scared to face him but we eventually did face him. In his absence, an assistant lecturer took us his class; we bought his handouts and made sure we had mastered every detail that was in it before the said date he was to resume.

On his arrival, Professor Hitler just strolled into the class with the aid of his walking stick and wrote on the white board in block letters “TEST”. You needed to have seen how a noisy class had suddenly turned into a graveyard, it was funny how just a word could make a whole class lose their voice… no one could protest even when we all thought it was unfair for a lecturer to set a test on his first day in class. The next letters that appeared on the board was the question we were to work on; “draw a detailed diagram of a P-N-P transistor” it was a basic electronic class and the course was a general course for all engineering students. In split seconds, the whole class had suddenly swung into action except for few of us who were confused as to what diagram exactly to draw as we had crammed and somehow missed up a lot of other diagrams in our head while some other few were boldly helping themselves with either the internet using their phones or spying through their handouts.

I had my handout on my table but I was not ready to tempt the devil especially not in Professor Hitler’s class, I just kept staring at my blank sheet of paper and the others around me… I needed just a clue, I already had about 20 and more diagrams in my head and I just didn’t know which was which. My prayers were soon answered, I saw something from the guy sitting in front of me and I soon started to make use of my materials that were already getting bored, I drew to a point where I needed more clue; how to represent the ions in the transistor and that was the point where the devil decided to play chess in the heads of the whole class… some were writing the addition sign (+) and subtraction sign (-) to represent the distribution of the positive and negative charged ions while others where writing the signs and drawing a circle round them like they were in a bubble but one thing that was common with both groups were they had the signs in large number all over their transistors, so as clueless as I was and wanting to be in the right side for whoever God knows was right, I decided to do what both groups did and I’m happy to announce to you that I got a big fat zero in that test… don’t laugh at me yet, the highest in the test was 1/15 and some people had just question marks on their scripts while many others were returned their scripts without even a mark on it, at least mine was worthy of a zero LOL.

After returning all our scripts, Professor Hitler gave a correction in the next class and left us with a class work. This time, we were to define some basic electronic terms, it was an open book test but we were restricted to use only his handout. After 5 minutes of letting us flip through the many pages of our handout that looked like 2 dictionaries combined, he screamed at us to submit our scripts but I was still there writing long letters like the types the biblical Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Thessalonians and others. The next class, our scripts were returned to us and again, I scored an even bigger zero. The whole class was in commotion, everyone was obviously not satisfied with their scores because we felt we deserved more but we simply were not playing his game the way he wanted us to, he gave us more corrections and kept iterating on some points I later noticed and when he gave us a final test before our exams, I score a 5/15 LOL… even if 5 of 15 was nowhere close to pass mark, I felt like I was on top of the world because the student who came close to me had 2/15 while many others scrambled for 1 and others were still battling to get a score. I may not have scored a pass but my improvement showed I was getting something right and when exam came, I scored a B in a course which the lecturer said the most brilliant in the class will manage just a C while D was for the rest of the class and F for the lazy ones, B was for the geniuses and in his words; “…I can’t see a genius among all of you” I guess we proved him wrong that year because I alone didn’t score a B, in fact someone scored A even when our lecturer had said A was for God alone. LOL I guess that student must have been born in heaven or maybe he was a relative of Jesus.

How did I beat my lecturer to his game?

Unlike many other lecturers, Professor Hitler hated long notes. When he said briefly explain, he meant briefly explain, anything more becomes out rightly a fail. When he gave us an open book test, he wanted us to use the idea in his handout to answer the questions he had given us not for us to write word for word what was in his handout as we did and when he asked us to draw and label diagrams, he looked out for straight lines, neat works, arrows in the right positions, labels all in one side of the drawing, title of the diagram, a brief explanation of the said diagram and many other criteria he used in judging our works, all these I discovered from listening, taking notes and paying attention to his corrections. It was annoying when I saw people drawing the diagrams wrongly during our exam as I had formerly done in the first test, I was asking myself one question all through the exam; don’t people take corrections or even learn from their mistakes?

The key to beating your lecturers to their game is playing the game by their rules. Study your lectures; every lecturer has his own style and pattern. Some require of you to write long notes while others like Professor Hitler, want brief notes. Some would fail you if you write a word for word answer to their questions while others would score you an A for same reason. All you have to do is study your lecturer, get to know their pattern and style and key into it…Give to Caesar what he asks you to.
Another point; take note of their corrections, no one will give you a correction if it does not matter and even if you are not given, go find out, ask them for corrections and put them into use… and don’t forget; once beaten, twice shy but what about twice beaten? Only God knows, just make sure you don’t get beaten more than once. Learn from your mistakes.

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