Editor’s Note: Akintunde’s article follows his previous reflection on approaches to studying for law examinations. This part focuses on the contribution of class attendance to examination success and shares tips on how to make the best of class attendance.
In faculties of law in Nigeria, students must attend 75 percent of their classes to qualify to write the exams for the semester. However, class attendance is more than just a prerequisite for exams – it’s often the ace up your sleeves. Many a student, have faced an exam question that should not have been difficult to answer, if only they had attended a particular class where the lecturer told the class to focus on a specific aspect of the course, or even gave a hint on the exact question they should prepare to answer in the exams. In this article, I share some tips on how to make the most of class attendance for exam success.
Prepare for the class
First of all, you have to prepare for the class. Using the course outline as a guideline, you can read up on the topic for the week. At least, this gives you a sense of what the lecturer will say in class. In the course of your study from textbooks, online materials or notes for senior colleagues, some concepts may not be understandable, but preparation will help you grasp the content of the class in the end.
When you prepare adequately for a class, the voice of the lecturer sheds light on the complex issues and directs you to important aspects of the topic that may feature in the exams. A lot of times, what comes to our rescue in the examination is not the case authorities or quotes from jurists, but the jokes, anecdotes, and side talks of the lecturer. These tips help in recalling the main points of a lecture.
Take notes properly
Another way to make the most of class attendance is smart note-taking. Some lecturers dictate notes while others simply explain and leave you to form the notes. Where the lecturer does the former, you should be careful not to copy down his/her words blindly. Take the time to ruminate over the words after the dictation. Also, take short notes of the side comments that the lecturer or other students make in class. You might think that doing this could cause you to fall behind, but this is because most of us believe that we have to write everything the lecturer says and in his/her words.
Pondering briefly on the lecturer’s words and writing them in your own words will help you learn from the class. You may even notice some discrepancies or errors based on your study, and then you are spurred to do some more research afterward. Well-formed notes come in handy when exams draw close. Based on how well you studied previously, other points that you’ve encountered before will come to the fore as you skim through your notes just before the exams.
Make audio recordings
Another way of getting the most out of class attendance is to make a recording of the class. It is useful to note that, some lecturers frown at recording their classes. If the lecturer does not mind being recorded, it’s an approach you can adopt. If we will be honest with ourselves, it’s not easy to stay attentive in all classes, at all times, especially if the course/lecturer is not your favourite. At times, thoughts and side discussions preoccupy us or we are trying to catch-up on sleep.
Audio recordings always prove helpful, especially when you do not have a lot of time to prepare for the exam. You could play the recordings on your way to classes, or while you engage in other activities. Even if you are not entirely attentive, playing the audio so many times has a way of imprinting the salient words in your minds – the same way we learn the lyrics of songs without active listening. Also, if you are unable to attend a class, make sure to get a friend of yours record the class on your behalf. That way, you don’t miss anything at all.
Also, class attendance is all about the lecturers. One significant benefit you can get from attending classes will come from your course mates. The best place to identify those who will be willing to form study groups for exams is in the classroom. People who share their knowledge with the class, by way of questions and contributions, are the best study partners because of their ability to turn academic content into conversations.
To sum it all, the words of Woody Allen are apt where he said, “80 percent of success is showing up”. You don’t lose anything for being in class and participating in the lectures – it’s always a win-win situation.
Akintunde Ifeanyichukwu Agunbiade is a 400-Level student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife. He is a decorated public speaker, having represented his Faculty and the school in national debates, and winning the award for “Debater of the Year”, from the Law Students’ Society, OAU, for the 2015/2016 Session. He is also a member of the Students’ Representative Council (Parliament of the Students’ Union), representing the Faculty of Law. He participated in the formation of the Tax Club, Intellectual Property Law Club, and the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Society. He also led the team that drafted the constitution of the Tax Club within 8 days.