Want That 100 On Your Exam? Learn Instead Of Study

In light of writing multiple essays and studying at every waking moment, I have reached some kind of epiphany. I really asked myself, “Why am I studying? What is the point in getting 100%? Why does it really matter?”

The answer that I came up with was, “It really doesn’t matter.”

I truly believe that it doesn’t matter if we achieve or don’t achieve something at the end of the day. Our society has taught us that you are not worth anything if you thrive on procrastination, you don’t have a specific schedule that you follow everyday, or if you don’t get a higher grade than the last time. Everything that is essentially outside of our productive, goal-orientated society is viewed as negative. 

I’m not advocating to be lazy and drop out of university, nor am I advocating to stop pushing yourself. I’m advocating for awareness and a transformative mindset because I empathize with a lot of students who go crazy studying when they really don’t know why they’re studying in the first place. 

I came to this epiphany that it doesn’t really matter if I do well on my exams because I realized that I would rather learn, instead of just getting an artificial confidence boost from seeing a red “100” on my exam booklet. I further came to this conclusion after realizing that I’m not in school to “get a job”. If I wanted a job, then I would go get a job. For those who are aiming to be doctors and other professions that require graduate school, even then the focus should still be on learning. Personally, I’m in school because I want to invest in myself and my life. I want to challenge my mind and soul by learning about history, philosophy, science, and anything else that my brain can absorb. By being in school, it will be easier to find a job afterwards, but that is not the reason why I’m in university.

     (Author’s photo)

It’s important that I stay grateful for the fact that my parents have been able to send me here, so I view going to university just to “get a job” as not taking full advantage of my time. Instead, taking advantage would be realizing that I have to view every opportunity, every class, even if it’s from 7 to 10 PM on Monday, as a chance to learn. It is a chance to invest in my future.  

After reaching this conclusion to focusing on learning instead of reaching for a specific grade, a load of pressure has been removed from me. When I procrastinate now, I let myself procrastinate. If I don’t get all that I need to get done, then I’ll just do it whenever I have the chance. I realized that the productive mindset gives you a sense of false confidence. It is confidence that is dependent on external circumstances. As soon as you get one bad grade after studying for so long, you start to question your worth. 

I no longer wanted to feel like I have failed every time I don’t get above a certain percent, so I’ve stopped pressuring myself. Now, I engage with the material by taking time to actually read the notes. Sure, it might take me a few hours instead of just quickly skimming through to get it done, but it feels much more satisfying to know that I just learned something that I never thought I would end up learning otherwise. Now, I focus on mastering material simply because I want to. 

Though I’m not exactly proud of this, I cheated on a lot of tests and quizzes in high school because I pressured myself to get the highest grades, and ultimately to get into university. I realized that this mindset wouldn’t get me that far in university, for several reasons. First of all, it is almost impossible to cheat now. Secondly, it’s just not as gratifying. Even when I would get a test back and I would get over 90%, I knew it wasn’t real because I had just received a text an hour before with all the right answers. I felt like a fraud. Now, if I get a solid 80%, but actually do the work myself and put in the time to learn, I feel much more accomplished. I accept the score and realize there is still more for me to learn, so I can improve. . It’s not about settling for mediocre grades,  it’s about understanding that the grades really don’t matter in the end. It’s not about the achievement itself, but about the capability you have to achieve in the first place. 

     (Author's photo)

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