Revise Better: 5 Steps to Create A-grade Notes

The Revise Better Series: Being host of the Tracklist for the Dean’s List show on IIUM.FM for the past semester has taught me a couple of things about what makes certain students excel. Since it’s Revision Week once again for IIUM students, in this series I will share some of the studying patterns I found in Dean’s List students over the next few days. I hope they’ll benefit, insyaAllah.

Today’s pattern: Make Your Own Notes

Browsing through the campus’s Facebook group, I noticed a couple of students selling their study notes for some change, and was surprised that there was actually a market for them.

While I understand how tempting it is to buy ready-made notes (saves time, shortcut, etc), I truly believe that you are doing yourself a disfavour by doing so.

Before I get into how you can create your own comprehensive notes, let me explain to you why you should do so.


99% Intentions and Attitudes, 1% Hard Work

Why hard work is not the key to success.

(Originally written for my campus paper)

If there is one lesson I intend to ingrain in my mind from my many interviews with Dean’s list students, successful entrepreneurs, and communication industry experts, it is that working hard is not the recipe for success.

Having the right intentions and attitude is.

The premise is this:

When you have the right intentions and attitude towards the work you are doing, no work is hard work.

Every hour you put in, every “opportunity cost” you incur, and every extra mile you take on, is part of an enjoyable journey towards that which you intend for.

Take Mr. Irwan Rauf from ASTRO, a Malaysian satellite television service. When he started out in the broadcasting industry, he took it upon himself to extend his internship with a local broadcasting company. For months, he dedicated himself to being the “Yes-boy”; whatever anyone in the company wanted him to do – from driving to assisting in productions – he would say yes without flinching, all for an intern’s pay.

“Why on earth would you do that? Wasn’t it hard?”, I asked.


Assumed Constraints

“Have you ever looked at a circus elephant anchored to the ground? If you have, you might notice that the elephant has a metal collar around its leg to which it is attached a small chain. And the chain is attached to a wooden peg driven into the ground. Pretty good protection?

Pretty lousy, if you ask me. That 12,000-pound elephant could very easily pick up its foot and with one fell swoop yank the peg out of the ground and walk away. But the elephant doesn’t. Why? I’ll explain.


How We Unknowingly Turn Down Blessings

I was constantly annoyed at an unknown someone living on the same floor as I am throughout the whole semester.

A short background: I currently stay in a hostel on campus. Each hostel block has two wings, and on each floor of a wing are five rooms. These rooms house eighteen students who share a common washroom, and a cleaning lady comes once a day to maintain the washroom.

To spare you the details, someone (or several people) on my floor has been leaving a mess in the washroom almost every single day.

At first, I regarded it as an honest mistake. I’d grab a bucket and clean the mess myself. But it happened again. And again. And again. By the fifth time I was cleaning the mess, I was clearly pissed off. There I was, needing to use the washroom urgently, and I had to time and again clean someone else’s mess.

I stopped cleaning.


The Most Difficult Maths Equation Ever

I am terrible at Maths.

Terrible to the point that when I was taking my GSCE O Levels, my teacher singled me out, sat with me and said, “I’m sorry but I think you need to drop your A Maths so that you can just concentrate on your E Maths. You’re failing at both!”

I spent the rest of the year doodling on my desk as my classmates went on with their A Maths lessons. It was quite the embarrassing experience, but I got my personal highest grade in E Maths written on my scroll.


Being Alive

This letter was sent to those who subscribed to my weekly letters a couple of days ago. My current stand is to not upload these letters on my main site to make it more personal, but alhamdulillah this current letter resonated with a number of subscribers who republished and shared it online with their friends. So, I thought, why not just put it up here so more can benefit? :)

If you wish to receive more personal reflections weekly, please click here to subscribe, or key-in your email in the box that appears at the end of this article. Thanks everyone!

Bismillah ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

The truth about me is that I am constantly living in self-doubt and fear.