Visit any department in any high school during period when teachers are busy marking. From different angles, what you will hear is this, ‘I taught my students this simple concept one week before exams, but all I can see now is blank spaces.’

Leaving blank space in exams is an academic indiscipline. Students leave blank spaces in exams because of three reasons: They did not master content, they did not retain content and they can not deliver content. In as much as content mastery is important, no exam can beat the power of content retention. A student can not deliver what they never retained.

For students to learn the art of content retention, they need to know when to study, what to study and how to study. They also need to know what to do before studying, what to do when studying and what to do after studying. The students need to make a personal study timetable that works. Most of then do not have personal timetables and if they have they do not follow it. A working timetable should be formulated cyclically and topically. The working timetable should explain when and what to study e.g Monday 4:15AM to 6AM ~ Subject XYZ (that is just an example). In that particular time the student should only study one topic in subject XYZ. Let me give this topic a name, topic ABC.

When studying the student should do the following things; They should not let the back to be on the backrest, they should not let both elbows to be on the locker, they should always sit in a campus position and they should ensure all the body parts are active.

For clear understanding, up there I have given an example of Subject XYZ between 4:15AM and 6AM on Monday morning. On this particular day the student is studying Topic ABC.

The first 70% of the whole duration specified for topic ABC of subject XYZ in the personal timetable should be used for studying, the remaining 30% should be used for Topical Personal Assessment Test. Using our example above, time between 4:15 and 6 is 1hour 45 minutes i.e 105 minutes. 70% of that time is 1 hour and 13 minures i.e 73 minutes. The student will spend the first 1 hour 13 minutes to study topic ABC in subject XYZ between 4:15AM and 5:28AM of Monday morning. During the study time the student will be writing down the main learning points from that topic.

The remaining 30% of time for studying topic ABC of subject XYZ is time for Topical Personal Assessment Test. In our example, the time is between 5:28AM and 6AM. During this time, the student personally formulates questions targeting the main learning points. The student then answers those questions without referring or asking a friend.

Teachers, when you were in the university pursuing education one of the core units you did was Psychology. Now, as we all know Psychology is the study of mind and behaviours. Psychologically, the human mind prefers solutions to problems. The human mind can do anything possible to ensure it gets out of problems. Why am I saying this? When the mind of a student knows that after finishing to study that topic it will ask itself questions concerning that topic which it must answer without referring, then the mind will force itself to retain the content about that topic.

Remember, the working personal timetable is cyclical and topical. The student is able to study all the subjects cyclically and also they are able to go through their syllabus from form one to form four certain number of times depending on the duration they have until KCSE.

The student needs to have four important sets of books; The first book, the summary book, the third book and the study book.

The first book is the book where the student was writing notes about topic ABC of subject XYZ when teacher was giving them notes in class during the lesson. The summary book is the book where the student compiled notes from various sources about topic ABC then summarised them. The third book is also called the dirty book. It is the book where the student writes down the main learning points during the actual studying of topic ABC during preps time from 4:15 to 5:28. It is the book where the student will formulate questions targeting the main learning points. The third book is also the book where the student will answer the questions they have asked themselves. The study book is the book which comprises of the topics in subject XYZ from form one to form four in the order of appearance as per the curriculum. Inside the study book, as the student will be studying the topics, they will also be marking. This enhances accountability and commitment.

Most students do not retain content because their academic foundations are weak, their academic systems are broken and their academic cultures are outdated.

The blank spaces can be filled. The content can be mastered. The content can be retained. The content can be delivered. The academic mindset can be restored. The teachers can be happy. The career can be progressed. The school can be a giant once more.


(Not every aspect of the program is stipulated in this article.
Any form of metric or algorithm used in this article is purely exemplum).


Vidambu is an Academic Mentor with over 1800 high schools in Kenya running his academic programs.
His Starting Early Academic Mentorship Programs revolve around Syllabus Coverage, Syllabus Understanding Strategies, Content Mastery, Content Retention, Content Delivery, Proper Revision Techniques, Time Management Strategies, Working Timetable, Study Book, Classroom/Staffroom Intercordination, Academic Cultures, Study Habits, among other great topics.
He is a Trainer of Principals during KESSHA conferences and teachers.
He is the President of Global Student Mentorship Foundation, Author, and a Lecturer.
To Have Vidambu launch their Starting Early Candidates Academic Mentorship Programs in your school and be a Class Mentor kindly call/text/whatsapp 0743480435 (Sam Vidambu).
His Website Is
His Facebook Page is Sam Vidambu (The Previous Articles By Him Are Found On His Facebook Page).
Kindly Forward This Article To Whatsapp Groups of the Teachers, Guidance and Counselling Teachers, Parents and All The Principals you know.
To Be Added To His Whatsapp Group Full of Principals and Teachers To Receive His Materials and Mentorship Kindly Whatsapp His Number (0743480435).

You Are Blessed.

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