Prisca Akpos: I aced my exams without cheating

by Prisca Akpos

Dennis, please pass me the salt, at least you’re the only one in this house that can pass something. This was my father’s way of punishing me for failing my JAMB examination. For the second time in two years JAMB (Joint administration and matriculation board) exam had jammed me again and my dad had taken it upon himself to torment me with his sarcasm till I decided to take my education more seriously. But daddy, you know I worked really hard, I attended tutorials and I studied very well, if only I had paid for the special seat, by now I would have been in my first year in the university.

As soon as I finished making my defence, the next thing I felt, was a very hot resounding slap in my ears. For some seconds I felt numb, I couldn’t remember my name or where I was not even the fact that it was still 9:00 am. I’m sorry sir, good evening sir, I just heard myself saying those words repeatedly. Sorry for your stupid self! let this be the last time you ever talk to me about cheating with such boldness. In fact, when your mother returns, she must hear this. Go and ask Mr Henry, he was my class mate from secondary school to university level, we never did any form of che

ating during our examinations. We didn’t even borrow anything from anyone inside the examination hall, yet we made all our papers at one sitting . You must sit up and work harder and pass that examination by yourself, period!

For the rest of that week I was extremely depressed. The whole breakfast drama and the unexpected slap really got me thinking. Am I really a failure? Will I ever make it to the university? Is there a harder way to make it work that I haven’t tried? With tears in my eyes I started picturing all the sacrifices I had to make while preparing for the examination. I cut down my Television watching time, I devoted 8 hours a day to studying and I even attended extra mural classes. I was still in my realm of self pity when it hit me. All of a sudden I realized that I could have done more, instead of whining about all I did, I decided to carefully analyse the things I didn’t do.

In the course of my brainstorming, I made a list of new study methods to try. Instead of cramming, I would study every bit of detail concerning each topic in the syllabus, I decided to create flash cards for each subject to help me remember the topics I had studied, I would use my phone to download more electronic books (ebooks) and video tutorials to facilitate a broad understanding of every single thing I read.

Yes, now I’ve got it. Filled with euphoria in my eureka moment I held my phone and with a big smile on my face, I started typing a long chat to my friend, that was when the final blow hit me. I needed to give up my social media presence for a while. I couldn’t believe it but I knew that it had been a distraction to me. It had become a demon I wasn’t willing to give up. I knew this was going to be a tough decision for me to execute by myself so I asked my older brother to help me. Dennis is the type of brother that loves to be in charge and I had just given him power over my smart phone to make sure I only used it for academic purposes during the period of my preparation for the examination. With a sinister grin, he accepted the offer, forms were signed and handshakes were exchanged, it was a done deal.

My own daughter , I know you inherited my brains, I’m very proud of you. Hearing those words come out of my father’s mouth, gave me an unexplainable kind of joy. All my mother could say was “when the child is good he becomes the father’s own, but when the child is bad, he is the mother’s child ” . It was my convocation day and I was among the best five graduating students from my department. After I made some changes to my study method, I aced my exam the following year without cheating. I gained admission to study a course I really love and since I had already mastered a study pattern it was so easy for me to apply it throughout my university education. While receiving an award from my faculty, I saw a little inscription that read “you are the salt of the earth “. It reminded me of the salt story that actually pushed me from my comfort zone. I was grateful to have a good man as my father.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

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