How Not to Fail Your Exams in Five Easy Steps

By Elishama Okpor

Years ago, acclaimed writer Charles Dickens said, “never do tomorrow what you can do today”. But, being humans, procrastination comes easy; why complete that difficult task when Netflix is waiting?

The problem for you, the procrastinator-in-chief, is that most of your school break went to streaming Netflix instead of reading PDFs and presentation slides. Now, exams are looming on the horizon and it’s taking all your effort to avoid freaking out. 

“How am I going to study with so many distractions?” is likely the biggest question on your mind currently.Being the helpful friends, we have curated a list of five steps involved in passing exams even with your somewhat dismal preparations. 

Let’s dive into it!

Write the key points on paper

Online school is cool, at least if you can deal with the lack of social interaction and interactive nature of physical lectures.  However, a downside to schooling on your phone is that, well, you’re going to be on your phone getting distracted when you should be studying.

To avoid distractions from incoming messages or social media notifications, writing down key points from lecture materials in a book or a jotter is advisable. That way, you can leave your phone and read the notes without getting distracted.

Reading notes from a jotter instead of your phone limits your screen time and helps your reading process. Remember: Tiktok won’t help your grades.

Go on overnight study sessions

No one likes overnight study sessions ¾ not even the ones who claim to read better at night. The unvarnished truth is humans like their sleep and sacrificing it for any activity poses great difficulty.

However, your refusal to read early for exams leaves overnight study sessions as your only option to cover lecture materials quickly. Think about it: you literally have an exam tomorrow, what else are you supposed to do? Sleep and waltz into the hall in the morning, hoping for a miracle?

Martin Luther King once said, “Every step towards the goal requires sacrifice, struggles, suffering, and tears”. For you, the goal is decent grades, and the “sacrifice” is the sleep you must skip for overnight study sessions.

Having to sacrifice sleep to pass exams cruel, but doing it is necessary ¾ so get what you need to stay awake for some intensive reading. However, resist the urge to consume excessive stimulants in your bid to stay wide-eyed at night. Besides, don’t try overnights if your body system won’t allow it; there’s no use in fighting nature.

Solve past questions

Past questions help you understand or try to understand the techniques and styles used by different lecturers; how they set their questions and where questions will most likely come from. You have little time to read everything, so reading past questions can make your study faster.

At the same time, do not depend on past questions 100%, as they could fail you. However, they are worth trying, especially if you have lecturers that repeat questions every year.

When solving past questions, notice the topics that have high representation in the questions. Read these areas well and answer aptitude questions to test your knowledge on the topics. Then, say a silent prayer and hope Lady Fortune smiles on you.

Avoid over-reading

Have you tried to overload a generator with appliances, causing it to malfunction? That’s what happens when you try to over-read or “cram” minutes to the exam.

Unless you’re an Einstein type scholar, your brain cannot handle all that information at once. Find a balance in your reading ¾ not too little and not too much. Avoid the urge to cover every topic on the course outline ¾ you hardly have the luxury for that.

Read a day before your exam

Now, this may sound like poor advice, but hear me out.

In order to avoid over reading, you could read for the course you have a day before, depending on the timing of your exam. Say, you have one exam in the afternoon; you could focus on reading for just that one paper, and not for an exam that you’ll write in two days.

As suggested earlier, you may read past questions before this to guide your study. Not only does this reduce study time, but it helps read the topics likely to feature in exam questions.


Hopefully, following these tips could help you not fail….much. To avoid situations like this in the near future, listen to Charles Dickens, avoid procrastination, and read every day! 


  1. Thank you very much, this is helpful

  2. Really needed this, thanks for the tips

  3. Very insightful thanks

  4. This makes sense, plain and simple too

  5. Sometimes the simplest things means the most✨
    Thank You for sharing ❤️

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. This was indeed helpful. Thank you ✨

  8. This is helpful, thank you

  9. This totally works for me especially the over night reading although its truly hard sacrificing almighty sleep


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