The shortcut to scoring well in engineering

Recently, Prof. Sudhir Jain conducted an interaction session with the first year students of SVNIT Surat. Currently the Director of IIT Gandhinagar, he is also acting as an interim director of SVNIT Surat. He conducted the session to familiarize himself with the needs and aspirations of the students of the college he was suddenly appointed to head. The session was more than a couple of hours long, in a question-answer format.

He told the students that he had never been a ‘sincere’ student. He didn’t spend hours pouring over books every day. He liked to do everything that a regular college student wants to do: participating in extra-curricular activities and having fun with friends. He also talked about how engineering students do not want to appear nerdy amongst their friends by studying regularly, and that they want to maintain the ‘cool’ status. Coming from an elderly man at such a lofty academic position, the students were pleasantly surprised to meet an administrator that finally understood the world from their eyes.

Then he went on to mention how he achieved good grades in every exam without losing out on a single outing with friends or a cricket match. He had a trick, he said. A trick by which each student in the hall could score well in exams and still be ‘cool’. He asked the audience to guess the trick.

“Study every day?” suggested somebody. He laughed and said that this method works only for a couple of days, and then everyone would be back on WhatsApp or Facebook.

“Make good notes?”

“Download learning apps?”

“Refer textbooks by foreign authors?”

“Practice Yoga?”

Many more guesses were made, each wilder than the last. By then the audience was already impatient to know the ‘trick’. Then he said, with an air of unravelling a great suspense,

“Studying between the break in each class.”

He said, in the very same words, that students spend the few moments between two lectures by hollering at each other, running from bench to bench, or making jokes about the teacher that just left.

However, the trick is to revise once, very quickly, everything that was taught in the previous lecture of the coming topic. That way, he said, you are mentally prepared with what’s coming next. The few minutes that a student has to spend recalling concepts can be utilized to understand the topic better right from the beginning.  This also includes clearing any doubt you might have had from the last lecture with your friends. By following this trick every day for every subject, he assured, there will never be a need to go back home and revise topics at a time which could be better utilized by socialising.

This advice comes at a time when more and more students are being disillusioned by the ‘system’ that forces them to cram books to keep up in a highly competitive environment. With hundreds of distractions on the Internet, and hundreds of better ways to utilize time, such as taking up an online course or working on projects, today’s students can no longer afford to devote all of their time and energy to conventional ‘studying’.

Good grades, Professor Jain explained, need not necessarily be inversely proportional to the time spent in having fun.

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