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Why Do You Read and Still Fail?

That moment you hear results are out! Your heart starts pounding. You’re somewhat unaware of what this news hold for you. You go over the courses you did the previous semester in your head and count the ones you think you performed poorly.

I remember in my first year, after my first semester examinations, I was having doubts about three courses. I launched into fasting and prayers! Oh Lord, please let me just get D’s in those courses: Mth 111, Chm 111, and Phy 111.

The math exam particularly was the worst, I was solving questions but couldn’t finish them. Mathematical induction that I actually taught my peers in our tutorials, I couldn’t solve it! The funny thing was I found myself arriving at finished calculations for trigonometry “my math’s nemesis” and some questions I was unsure of or shouldn’t know. Was it the chemistry or physics, realizing I did more guesswork and answered incorrectly got my head spinning. So yes, I prayed Lord please I don’t want any miracle, just give me Ds. Well, my heart leaped for joy when I saw Cs in those courses.

Yeah a lot of us come into the university’s setting with one common goal – to come out with good grades! It could be First Class, second class upper or lower, or even third class, some with no idea. But I don’t think anyone ever came with the intention of coursing through the school with a wake of carryovers, even if one was dumb as f**k. But alas! Many of us find ourselves counting colorful Fs in our grades.

But no more! Today, I’ll be sharing some tips that can help you say goodbye to carryovers, and say hello to a wave of “good grades”. Good grades are in quotes because it can be any grade, but not F.

Our parents, mentors, uncles, aunties, older siblings, advisors, lecturers and fellow students, even the mad man in your street, usually have one solution for you, READ! READ!! READ!!!

Read! Read!! Read!!!

But alas, there are some who “read” for hours and still fail. This is because READING is not the solution.

My advice to you to be able to come out with good grades is not to READ but to UNDERSTAND!

Take a cue from a wise man who said “the spirit of his UNDERSTANDING caused him to answer” in Job 20:3. Just like Job, we need “understanding” to be able to answer test and examination questions correctly. Another name for it is COMPREHENSION.

If you read a book or material all over again without understanding it, you can never answer it well! The same applies to the questions, if you don’t understand them, you can’t provide the correct answer!!

No wonder the wisdom book advises us to “get understanding with all our getting” in Proverb 4:7.

But How Can You Get Understanding??

Now I won’t have completely helped you If I don’t really give you a tip or two on how to get understanding as a student, would I? So let’s dive right into it.

In other to understand, you need to, ASK QUESTIONS. lol. The typical class teacher cue, right? But it’s the truth and it works. They say people who ask questions don’t get lost.

Little wonder, when David prayed to God in Psalm 119:73, he “asked,” God to give him understanding, that he may learn God’s commandments.”

Questions demands answers. If you sit back to imagine or ask yourself what that line you just read is trying to tell you, your craving for the answer will spur you to “STUDY”, not read, and study begets understanding. Studying will provide you with answers that will cause you to understand.

Of the many definitions of the word “Study” in the dictionary, I chose to use this one in this post, “To fix the mind closely upon a subject; to dwell upon anything in thought; to muse; to ponder.”

In short, to STUDY is to THINK.

Napoleon Hill wrote a book titled “think and grow rich”. Meaning to even get rich, you have to think! Almost everything we see around us made by men is the result of their imaginations. But sadly many of us just read, and not make an effort to study (think) and comprehend.

Read, think and understand

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.

Henry Ford

In order for you to comprehend and understand, you have to “think“. Utilize the power of your imaginations. When you have a mental picture or idea of how the stuff you are learning works, you will be able to comprehend it even better.

Do you realize that you easily understand something when the teacher presents it from a point of view that you can relate with or imagine? Like daily life’s routines, you are familiar with? Or wonder why that book or course isn’t interesting to you?

“Well, a book is only enjoyable when you can relate to it. This is a piece of you called “understanding.”

Martins Toritseju
Well, a book is only enjoyable when you can relate to it. This is a piece of you called “understanding.

“Precipitation is when a solute K is soluble in a liquid X and forms a homogenous solution with it, you introduce another liquid Y which is miscible with X but K is insoluble in it, Y will cause K to precipitate out of the solution. Do you understand?” I spoke with one of my students. She replied, “No”, with a perplexed look. Obviously she didn’t.

So I’d to improvise and find something she can relate to better. “Okay, a widower/man X lives together and peacefully with his kids K in his home (homogenous solution), he decides to take in another suitable (miscible) wife Y, but just like the usual stepmom kinks from our daily polygamous dramas, she says she can’t live with the kids under one roof and forces them out of the house (precipitate). That’s how precipitation is. Do you understand now?” She said yes this time.

Ben Carson went to the library with his brother when he was little but he employed the power of imagination to enjoy and understand most of the books he read and this “secret weapon” took him on a plight to become one of the greatest neurosurgeon the world has come to know.

I once had a test question drawn from a topic I’d not read, we were given values with which to use to draw a temperature control program graph, but I was able to pinch a few marks by drawing from my imagination.


I’m gonna present two (2) study approaches or should I say “lifelines” you can adopt to get the answers you need to help you sharpen your imaginations in order to paint a better and clearer picture of whatever you are trying to learn.


In my year one, when I got to the aspect of calculus that I could no longer comprehend, I sought the help of my friend Destiny. In my second year, I had no clue when it came to philosophy and second-order differential equations. He was my go-to-guy. I got B, B, and A respectively.

It is noteworthy to say I got A in the differential equation most likely because I had a roommate who wouldn’t let me rest until I tutor him and brought him up to speed to where I’ve gotten in that course. In order to teach him better, I had to relearn what Destiny had taught me so I could understand it better so as to best explain it to him and not to teach him the wrong thing.

And believe you me, he asked some pretty hardcore questions, some I had to dismiss because I wasn’t really a math student, after all, I was an environmental science student. It was what we call a “borrowed course”. I didn’t need to know why these Bernoulli had to be solved like that. I just know it’s solved that way and I’ve come to terms with it.

So the first approach is to ask someone who really “understands” it to teach you. David sought help from God to understand God’s commandments. You got to admit to yourself that you need help (beyond that material at hand, usually from the lecturer) and meet someone tête-à-tête to help you understand. It could be a teacher or lecturer, a family member, or a friend.

Ask someone to teach you, then teach others

And then if possible teach someone else or a group of persons what you’ve been taught and you will master that course! You’ll be amazed when you look at your question paper and you are like I can answer everything here correctly. That was my state when I took my environmental statistics exam in my finals because I had individually taught a couple of colleagues the course.



One of my final papers, most of the questions came like this, with the aid of a diagram, explain… But diagrams were neither in the materials dropped by the lecturers nor drawn during classes (meaning expo wasn’t gonna be of any help to those that smuggled and depended on it). But in my bid to understand and have a mental picture of the topics in that course, I had previously watched a couple of illustrative youtube videos, from which I drew out answers to the exam questions.

My second and favorite approach is the INTERNET. Search for the topic over the internet, thousands of persons “the audience” have simplified it so well for “dummies” that you might love that topic you probably was beginning to hate. When I go online, I prefer colorful, pictorial, and graphical PDFs, PowerPoints (PPTs), and short YouTube tutorial videos.

These help with mental picture stimulation and help with better imagination and understanding. “A picture”, they say, “is worth a thousand words”. You get to understand the Krebs cycle better, you get to understand lytic and lysogenic stages of bacteria better; Is it algorithms and flowcharts, electromagnetic radiation, SN1 and SN2 reactions, TDs, GIS and remote sensing, etc? Just name it!!!

But don’t push aside your lecturer’s notes and course outline just yet, instead let them be your guide as you landscape so you don’t stray and learn something, though correct…maybe, but contrary to what the lecturer has taught you. Guess who gets to set the exam questions?

So when you are able to understand and comprehend what you studied, as well as, your exam or test questions, you will not only enjoy the course but also your chances of coming out with good grades and scaling through are usually very high.

Now Hold On a Minute!

Didn’t you like this post? Permit me to remind you of this cliché  “I scratch your back, you scratch mine“. I probably made you laugh or taught you something with this post, right? So what will you give me in return? How about, say I don’t know, your email? Subscribe below and get a free ebook!


  1. I really enjoyed this and concur to everything you’ve said in this post. This is a really useful approach to getting good grades.
    Keep it up Martin’s🌹

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