Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Why being exam smart is related to Real Life

Many people complain that Singaporean students are exam smart, and being exam smart may not be useful for them in the real life.

I disagree. 

In fact, the skills gain from being exam smart are rather similar to the skills required to succeed in life, the only thing is, you need to remember bring out these "exam smart skills" after you finish formal education. 


These skills include having a good understanding of:
- what is important in the syllabus, and
- how to score

What is important in the syllabus

There is so much information out in the world. Examinations usually come with a syllabus which you should stick to to do well. Also, there is so much in the syllabus, what are the important "modules" that you need to know well, so that you can do well -- these will affect how much focus you put, and in other words, how well you do for the examination.

Similarly, the world out there is information overload. To do well in whichever field, you need to know what you need to know. 

Let me give you an example. If you want to do well in stock trading in the USA, you know that how much profits you take home is also dependent on how much tax you need to pay. As such, tax is one module you need to know well. However, if you are in Singapore, where dividends and capital gains are not taxed, knowing the tax well is not as important -- so you focus less on taxes here in Singapore!

How to Score

I remembered my teachers telling us to write what the examiners are looking for. For some examinations, marks are given based on points. Even if you write the correct answer, but leave out the important key words, I'm sorry, no points for that.

Similarly, in the real world, you need to know which are the efforts you will need to put in, that will give the most points (benefits), and do it! Like at the work place, when you are overloaded, there are many items which people ask you to do, but will not make a difference to the workplace or to your career, but there are important items, that if done well, will give you a promotion or an edge, etc. So which will you focus on?

Many who did well in school, did well in their career

The media is full of success stories about people who did not do well in school, but went on to do very well in their careers or business, becoming one of the richest people on earth. 

But what is not reported in the media are people who had a good education (by doing well in examinations), generally had better pay. This is because of the head start they have (since many firms have higher starting pay for people with higher educational level), and to a certain extent they may be "corporate smart" as much as they had been "exam smart". 

BUT, such smartness can be learnt or forgotten

But such smartness can be learnt or be forgotten. So if you hadn't been exam smart before, it doesn't mean you won't be "real life" smart. And the reverse is true. 

In conclusion, the skills required for being exam smart are rather similar to that of being real life smart. 

So next time, if someone say exams are a waste of time, try to motivate them with these reasons. =)

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