Abdulrafiu Arikewuyo
6 min readJan 9, 2024

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Use this studying strategy to score more than 90 on your exam.

In short, the strategy I will be explaining in details is using past question papers to prepare for your exam. But how? Let’s dive in..

Before I start, I need to disappoint you first.

This strategy is not going to be easy, but it’s going to be effective, and you’re going to be successful.

Why should you go through these rigors anyway?

Let me break it down for you.

How we look at success is still largely dependent on the type of corporate job you do, and to qualify for that job, you need a quality certificate from a reputable university.

This is where it gets dicey because employers often prefer certificates from reputable universities abroad. In fact, if you graduate from one of the Ivy League universities, you even stand high above the competition. These universities require a high grade from your high school certificate, and you can only get this grade when you study extra hard. Hence, the need to read this till the end.

Many scholars have confirmed that using Past Questions is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the most difficult exams. This strategy works no matter the type of exam you are preparing for — academic, interview, professional, certification, etc.

However, the way you use it is equally as important as how much you use it. Hence, from my experience as a teacher, I will be sharing with you in this short article five things you must do to get the best result using this strategy.

Note that this strategy will not necessarily reduce your study time; it will only give you a guaranteed result when adopted well enough.

Let’s dive in.

  1. Solve as many past questions as you can.

The past questions will not only help you revise for the exam, but they will also give you insight into how questions are structured. You get familiar with how the examiners think, the terminologies they use, and how marks are distributed. Therefore, the more you solve, the better your chances of performing excellently in your exam. Usually, I recommend that my students solve 10 years of past question papers.

Note:
a. When your teacher is solving the questions for you, it doesn’t mean you have solved past questions. You have to sit down and solve it yourself.

b. You can be sure that you’ve solved a past question when you get every question correctly. That means, if you solve a PQ and some are wrong, you have to try the same question again. This can mean that you print multiple past question papers. This is what most of my students did. They each have 2 booklets of the same PQs.

I know it’s a daunting task, but you need it to achieve an A in your exam. Like I tell my students, no one has been reported to have died because they studied hard.

2. Use a mix of the latest and old PQs.

Recall that I recommend 10 years of past question papers (if you can do more, it’s even better). Do you remember I said that? Ok, now listen to this very important point. Like I said earlier, one of the benefits of studying with PQ is to understand how the examiners think and the vocabularies of the exam. These things change from time to time.

That’s why I suggest you don’t select all of the 10 years in the same period. While the latest years will be better as they reveal the new thinking of the examiners, the earlier years will also give you insight into how their thinking is evolving over the years. That way, you can easily predict what questions they’ll ask you, as I’ll discuss later in the next section. Wait for it.

I suggest you follow the protocol below.

1. Get 5 years of PQs from the latest year backward. For instance, get 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019.

2. Randomly select another 5 from the earlier years. For instance, get 2010, 2005, 2000, 1998, and 1995.

Note: this is only a recommendation, you may follow the idea to select yours. Because it’s possible that the syllabus has changed along the line, so be better guided.

3. Do a strength analysis.

Again, why you want to follow this procedure is to get the best out of your effort. I see how you struggle to make good grades, to make your parents happy and be proud of yourself. And I want to help you. So, take only one year, preferably the latest year and solve. Don’t worry if you can’t solve some of the questions at this stage but pay attention to the difficulty level. You will observe three things as you solve this.

Observation 1: You’ll be able to solve some questions.

Observation 2: You’ll have a clue about some questions but may not be able to solve them. Which means, a little revision of your note will help you to solve those questions.

Observation 3: There are questions you’ll not be able to solve at all. No clue, no idea, just blank. Don’t worry, I got you covered.

After you identified these, use this template to write out your findings.

For the ones you can solve, congratulations, just practice more. For the ones you have a clue, that’s ok, just revise a little more and go back to them. For the ones you can’t solve at all, you may need to get a teacher to further help you understand the concept.

So, what you want to do is to make sure the topics you listed in observation 1 are more than that of observation 2 and then 3. Also, as you practice, you want to make sure you move everything into observation 1 eventually.

4. Compare across years.

This step is also very important. It helps you understand how the examiners play with questions. So, what you should do is to pay close attention to similarities as you solve questions across years.

For instance, the examiner may ask, “Force can be defined as ……”

a. the rate of change of velocity with respect to time.

b. the mass of an object multiplied by its acceleration.

c. the energy exerted by an object in motion.

d. the displacement of an object from its equilibrium position.

In another year, the examiner can ask, “The mass of an object multiplied by its acceleration is ……”

a. mass

b. acceleration

c. force

d. displacement

If you look at the above analysis, you will discover that you need the same knowledge to answer the two questions. Therefore, this comparison across the years makes it easier for you to understand examination question dynamics and make useful predictions.

6. Predict questions.

This is the highest level of your preparedness. If you follow all the points above, you will find this easier. And if you are able to do this, you can be sure that you are ready to earn above 90 marks in that exam.

What should you do?

After you solved the 10 years’ questions, take the latest question paper (e.g., 2023) and use it to predict another question for yourself. From your knowledge of strength analysis and comparison, you will be able to make a reasonable prediction, and you will likely be right.

Bravo! You made 95% in your exam.

In conclusion, I understand how you feel right now — overwhelmed. But, I hope you will trust me that this effort will be worth it. Don’t be overwhelmed by the complexity of the

Free downlads

  1. Template for strenght analysis
  2. Checklist that summarises this strategy.

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Abdulrafiu Arikewuyo

Abdulrafiu Arikewuyo is a teacher and a writer. On a mission to change the school model.