The 2nd of Three Key Components for Exam Success – Action and Behaviour

Action and behaviour by the child

We are all a product of our behaviour and any success we are enjoying at present is usually as a result of the actions we have taken in the past. When we speak about action and behaviour, the words that come to mind include priority, organisation, habit, discipline, association, character, persistence and so on. For teenagers these days, there are two areas which are really external factors and need to be controlled very carefully. Those are: those with whom they associate on a day-to-day basis – meaning the friends they keep and the amount of time they invest in electronic media and gadgets. These two areas – friends/ peers and gadgets – can have both positive and negative impact, as the kind of person they hang around with and the amount of time they spend on gadgets can make all the difference.

What we do in our organisation – Excel in Key Subjects – comes under the additional support and also external influence. I believe that receiving extra tuition help from an effective source or hanging around with well-motivated teenagers are very positive signs and either or both of these two things can be the catalyst that helps to make a real difference. However, the most important is the guidance and support provided by the parents and the school or college. It must be said that all these are interconnected. What we do as good parents is to help facilitate that all the three areas are in place and to find a way of bringing the young person on board with us as we try to nurture them and influence them positively.

I would say that the action and behaviour of the person involved is the most important and will be the one single factor that has the greatest impact on achievement. One can, of course, argue that the support system provided by the parent(s) and schools and other professionals can have a strong influence on the actions that the student takes on a day-to-day basis and how they choose to spend their time.

We are all a product of our environment and behaviour. But a person can do something towards creating the right environment for themselves and adopt a success-oriented set of habits and behaviour. In the case of a child, the parent(s) can help towards creating an environment that is conducive to learning and also to ensure that good routines are established.

Behaviour is not the coolest of words!

Words such as routine, behaviour, organisation and persistence are not that cool and are a little scary to some people; however, getting them right is crucial. In the last part of this series of blog articles, we will be going into the micro and looking deeper into minute detail – including things that need to be done to score high marks in the examinations. For brevity, I would like to deal with the macro here, with just a few of the success-oriented behaviours that need to be adopted by a teenager in order for success to be achieved. Below are just a list of a few behavioural aspects that I would encourage parents to focus on and for the young person themselves to observe:

Success oriented behaviour

  1. Adopt the right mindset. Not just about being positive, but about having an “I can and I will do it” attitude
  2. Get your priorities right by identifying things that are the most important. This enables you to really focus your energy on things that will have the greatest impact on your future
  3. Play to your strength. Recognise your own talents and make the best of them. This includes your choice of subjects and courses
  4. While following your passion, be aware of the minimum requirements in key areas – particularly in core subjects and the minimum attainment you need in those. If you have aspirations to study at a top university, then do your research and remember to include the subjects that the top institutions value most in your choice of A-levels.
  5. Beware of technology and information overload and becoming a slave to technology. Be very selective in how you invest your time and do not allow the electronic media to control your life. Technology is a tool to make your life easier, so do not allow it to dominate your life and dictate how you spend you time.
  6. Switch off the mobile or tablet when studying or, at the very least, switch them to aircraft/silent.  No, no, no– that text message or e-mail can wait and you do not have to check or respond to it now.
  7. Before you go to bed, switch off your mobile or put it into aircraft/silent mode and do not receive or respond to messages until you get one or two key things done in the morning
  8. Using a mobile phone as a calculator is a very bad habit and do NOT do it when studying
  9. Computers and the Internet are great resources for research and accessing information, but remember examinations are still done by writing with a pen and not typing. There are so many bright people who have ideas, but they cannot articulate them in writing and they lose marks in the exam
  10. Use a list at all times
  11. Plan the week ahead and script the next day. Make a list of key achievements for the next week and a time block of how the next day is to be spent and when exactly you plan to do what. This is key, otherwise the time’s gone before you know it – with very little achieved
  12. Sleep well, eat well, rest and play, as all these are important to maintain balance in life and to help reenergise. These help to prevent a burn-out, increase productivity and to make effective use of time. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy!
  13. Concentrate on a given task and see it to completion before moving to the next one. Use time blocking by concentrating on a specific task or project in a given time. The term ‘multi-tasking’ is overrated and often wrongly applied
  14. Be selective in how you invest your time, as it is the most valuable resource
  15. Make the best use of your teachers as they are a valuable resource. Respect them and make the best use of their expertise by asking for help and clarity in areas where you may have concerns
  16. Good enough is good enough. Perfection is a theoretical concept that does not exist and excellence is not perfection. Strive for excellence at all times, but be aware that it is better to be prolific than to be perfect
  17. Celebrate your success and be grateful for what you have, while still aiming higher

In the next blog, I will be exploring the third aspect of factors that I believe have the greatest impact on academic success – in fact on any success in life. Watch this space!