I didn’t know that I was not very bright until I was in primary 4. I had a class teacher who was very hard on those of us that were struggling academically. She had a bias for the bright students and hardly ever smiled at those of us that did not do very well. A girl named Lara and I were actually the poorest in her class and we were sort of comrades.

Hitting Rock Bottom

Anyways, my rock bottom was actually being called out for cheating during a class exercise. For some reason, I had found myself sitting next to one of the smarter students for a test and I copied his answers. The results of the test were announced and I was applauded for coming 10th in class. I guess my plan was to continue spying on the boy’s work for the rest of the school year but less than a week after, I was caught and disgraced.

Having a New teacher Made the Difference

However, once I started a new academic session, my grades improved because I had a better class teacher.  She was less critical of students that did not do very well. I also made friends with the other students who were doing better in class. A girl named Tolulope Ukah was always willing to explain concepts that I didn’t get during the class.  At the end of that school session, I finished 5th (out of 28 students), behind the four friends I made that year.

Light Bulb Moment

I understood that  I needed to make friends with people who were smarter than I was and kind enough to help. And this was the principle I began applying to my academic work as I moved to high school. What I found was that studying was much more interesting when I did it with a reading partner who was also a good friend

Developing The Habit of Studying

By senior secondary school, I had developed the habit of studying at home. I think I was able to develop this habit from watching my mum work on her stock records at night. Children take after their parents in many ways and the fact that my mum did her paperwork at night made me want to do mine as well.

I passed the high school board exams in one sitting. I made more As than I made Bs or Cs. So, that was good enough for me. My teachers also played a considerable role: validating me whenever I did well.

My undergraduate and postgraduate education followed the same strategy: bonding with brighter students and studying for all my exams.

So, this is what I know for sure about learning and achieving academic success:

1. You don’t have to be a straight-A student to be a successful student. You also don’t have to attend an Ivy League college. What actually matters is constant improvement.

2.  You have to surround yourself with people who look out for you academically. The day before my final pharmacy degree exam, I fell ill and had a fever. But I had a friend who made sure I studied overnight for the exam despite my condition.

3. Study for every exam. You are more likely to pass an exam you study for

4. Study with past questions.

5. Know how to present your answers. Teachers might give you a format for answering their questions. Or you can check with former students.

6. Seek out likely questions from your peers.

7. Give yourself enough time to study for the exams.

In conclusion, the most important factor in your academic or personal success is the company you keep. Your friends determine how fast you move in life because humans are social beings. We learn by watching others; we are largely motivated by what we see others do. This might be a good time to scan your network. I urge you to connect with people who make you feel good about yourself.  And one last thing, these guys need not be exceptional. They just have to be good enough for you and your dreams.

-Tobi Amokeodo














My superpower is creative engagement; whether working as regulatory affairs professional at a pharmaceutical company or as a fashion art director. Malcolm Gladwell calls people like me, "connectors".

I try to read at least a book a month, I have a green thumb (not literally) and my favourite quote ever is " remember to play after every storm".

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