THROUGHOUT my school years in SMA Al – Maarif, my fellow classmates thought that I am some kind of a genius. They always thought I had a similar brain to Einstein’s and they never failed to ask me to lend them a part of it whenever an exam is around the corner.
My teachers too never expected anything less from me. They always had high expectations from me in all the tests and examinations. You combine the height of my teachers’ expectations with my friends’ and sure enough it will surpass even the tallest buildings in the world.
Keeping up with them was not a walk in the park and I had to always give my all in each and every exam that I took.
Same goes for my SPM last year. All year long, my classmates expect great things from me as if it is simply compulsory for me to achieve flying colours for my SPM.
I felt pressured and stressed, but thanks to the support of my parents, siblings and close friends, I didn’t break down and instead I go forth with my own strength. I deployed all strategies kept up in my arsenal and fought hard to finally achieve 10 A+ and 1 A in the feared SPM, Alhamdulillah.
So now, I hope to use this golden opportunity to share my strategies and tactics to win the battle with SPM under immense pressure based on my own experiences.
First of all, always remember the first rule of studying; study smart, not study hard. During my five years in secondary school, I came across quite a number of people who sits up late all night devouring textbooks only to find themselves unable to understand whatever they read or memorize.
Memorizing is only the tip of the studying ‘iceberg’ while understanding the subject is actually the crucial point of learning and revising.
As for me, whenever I stumble upon a subtopic or exercises that I couldn’t quite understand such as physics principle or theories, Firstly I would find a lovely place to sit, read surah Al-Insyirah, and I would read and think about the topic many times over.
If it’s possible I would also try to apply what I learnt into my everyday life to understand it better. If there are still blotches of uncertainty, then I would open up a discussion with my fellow friends to share our own thoughts and opinions and finally if it’s still a blur, I will ask help from the more experienced; the teachers, which had been advised in Surah Anbiya’:7: “So ask the people of the message if you do not know.”
Next, always trust and follow our teachers’ orders. They had years of training and teaching experience and it’s an undisputable fact that they had absolute advantage over their students in terms of knowledge and understanding.
In my opinion, doing our given homework accurately on time is one of the purest form of following the teachers’ orders. Unfortunately, this fact seemed to not be taken seriously by our students today. Mostly, they procrastinate enough until doing the homework properly became impossible and finally, copied each other’s homework.
Some may argue that copying is their ‘style’ of learning but to me, to fully explore and try to do the homework all by ourselves is the most important education throughout my school life.
Same goes for the semester exams and other tests. The teachers didn’t conduct them for nothing. Instead, they had given us a chance to effectively identify our weaknesses whether we misunderstood some of the topics or we were still confused by some mathematical concepts.
That’s precisely why I never hold back in any of my exams. Maybe some of my peers thought the exams are not that important and it’s okay for them to be casual about it, but not for me. Each and every time the teacher gave back our exam papers I will jot down all my weaknesses that I can see in my notebook and put them into a nice list.
Then, I took my time to tackle the weaknesses one by one until it all became my strengths.
Teaching my friends science-related subjects became my bread and butter every day during my last two years in school. I always had an advantage over my friends in physics, chemistry and additional mathematics probably due to my hobby of reading science books in my pastime.
And I use that advantage to share my knowledge with my peer night after night. I didn’t have to look for somebody to teach, instead they all came to me in times of troubles, mostly exam nights.
Thanks to them, I never had the need to open up my books to refresh what I had learnt before as I can revise all of it during the sharing lessons with my friends.
Reflecting back to the past, I really understand why people said teaching others can return you a huge benefit. Your knowledge never become less, instead it is exactly the complete opposite, you will see that you understand it even more than before and it will stay in your head longer.
So, if you ever had the chance, try to read and understand a topic that your class haven’t learnt or mastered yet, and when the time comes, you can feel the utmost feeling of satisfaction in giving benefit to your classmates and to yourself as well by teaching them.
Last but definitely not least, your quest for knowledge is quite the same with a car. No matter how high is your car’s specs, you cannot run it without fuel.
Same goes with studying, it doesn’t matter if your brain is highly modified to take in lots of info, or you had amazing Oxford textbooks to learn from, you won’t get anything without the motivation to do it and where does the motivation come from? It comes from your intention of learning.
In Imam Nawawi’s work, ’Hadits 40’, the very first hadits told us something very important, “Verily, actions are by our own intentions.”
To put it simply, it all boils down back to our niat. And your intention will be your car fuel’s brand. Some study with the intention of gaining attention from others, and they will get fuel with great efficiency, but the smokes will blacken their car.
Some study for their parents and they will get fuel with its quality depending on their parent’s treatment to them. But as for me, I study, so I can return my knowledge to Allah by contributing to the ummah. “Mumtaz 4 Ummah”, that are the words that keeps my engine turning and running.
There is in fact another powerful fuel that can keep us straight on our way to Jannah, which I also use frequently.
Allah had revealed to us in Surah Mujadalah:11, “Allah will raise the status of those who believe among you and who are given knowledge by degrees.”
This ayat shows us that those who seeks knowledge will receive a special position from Allah, higher than even those who prays to him day and night. When we put this promise from Allah as the cause for our study, In syaa allah, you can possess a powerful motivation to strive harder and that will be our jihad.
I realize I wasn’t born in a world that needs me to fight in the streets, firing rounds of bullets one after another. But I know I was born in a world that needs me to strive for knowledge that Allah lends us so I can bring back Islam to its rightful place in this world, high above others.
Ammar bin Badhrulhisham
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of, and should not be attributed to, Isma or Ismaweb.