Patricia Orlunwo Ikiriko

Patricia Orlunwo Ikiriko

‘The Successful Student’ presents the simple methods, techniques and attitudes that successful students use and the daily habits they adopt to attain good grades without unduly stressing themselves.

It aims to empower students to develop the ability to think freely and rationally and to organise themselves, their time and their work, so that they can approach assignments, tests and examinations with confidence.


Teachers may influence much of students’ learning in that they create lesson plans that adhere to the curriculum and which are designed to give students the knowledge necessary to pass exams. Teachers may also offer guidance about scheduling periods of revision prior to exams, but they generally don’t spend time explaining the wide range of hidden psychological factors that inhibit and impact adversely upon students’ academic performance and success.


The methods described in this book bring to students the study habits that typify the successful student. The principles relate how students can overcome self-limiting beliefs, mental barriers and other obstacles in order to take control of their studies. It guides students on learning processes and how to identify their own particular learning style, as well as plan their schedules, set realistic goals, organise their activities, read effectively, take notes, manage time strategically, apply self-motivation strategies, absorb information and retain what they have learnt.


Why is it important to develop good study habits?

Good study habits are a prerequisite for putting students on a path of educational success; they are an essential aspect for attainment of academic objectives. The first step towards developing good study habits is to make the decision to work hard and endeavour to learn how to study, including such techniques as reading on topics before the class, taking proper notes in class, and carefully reviewing notes after class. Students are also encouraged to develop a dedicated schedule of study time, attend all classes, pay proper attention to what is being taught in class, prepare adequately for examinations, and take responsibility their studies.


In the late 1960s, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, modified the ancient adage ‘Practice makes perfect’ to “Practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect”. The same applies in education: only good study habits will lead to good results.


Why should we identify our individual learning styles before starting an academic task?

‘Learning style’ refers to the method by which a learner prefers to learn. No two people learn in exactly the same way. We all have different aptitudes, preferences and blind spots, and we learn to adapt to whatever is most suitable to us.

The book strongly recommends that each student takes the time to understand how they prefer to learn, before embarking on an academic task. This will enable students to understand the processes they will go through as they study and take on board information, to get the most out of their efforts.


The identification of a preferred style of learning is important for improving students’ performance in a variety of contexts. When students understand their own particular learning style and use the appropriate strategy, learning becomes easier and more efficient, and it is possible to learn new information more quickly.



What is the importance of planning and setting realistic goals?

Having a goal without a plan to work towards it is a waste of time. Planning is the procedure of determining what you are going to do and in what order, as well as how you intend to do it. Planning involves stipulating the time, days, and months in which you intend to accomplish the aims and objectives you have set. Planning is of great importance as it helps you to be more accurate and precise about the steps that you need to take to achieve your goals. The book shows students how to make a plan by breaking down larger goals and objectives into more manageable, daily tasks. Making lists is a key part of the planning process, enabling new tasks to be added and completed ones to be ticked off, which contributes to a sense of achievement.

Goal-setting is the ultimate motivator when things get tough. It entails careful consideration on the part of the student of what precisely they are striving to achieve, and writing this down as goals. Setting realistic goals is crucial as it helps students to remain focused and take firm control of their study direction. It provides a way for students to pinpoint ‘where they are’ in their academic journey, and determine whether or not they are on track to succeed.

What is the advantage of taking notes?

Note-taking is one of the best ways to convert passive information-gathering such as reading and listening into an active, physical activity which will help it to ‘stick’. It can be particularly effective during revision when you note down any questions that arise and identify gaps in your knowledge, and structure future research and revision periods to address them. Also known as ‘mind maps’, notation maps are a powerful way to take notes, to represent ideas visually or graphically, and to recapitulate what has been covered. Research by Robert Ornstein and Tony Buzan shows that not only are mind maps fun and yet logical way of showing the various strands that make up a topic, they are also very effective for information retention.


How accessible is your book for students at university and mature students?

My book has been written to be accessible for students of all ages and educational stages, from school through to university level and beyond. It aims to highlight the study methods that school pupils need to adopt and master in order to succeed academically at school. However, university students, who have already attained a measure of academic success, can benefit from it because university courses often appear new and daunting. A book describing the small daily changes they need to make and the small, manageable tasks they need to perform, can help to get their university-level studies on track. My book is written in story form, with an exercise at the end of each chapter, to help students develop the ability to manage their time, structure their study periods, break down large tasks into more manageable ones, and set achievable goals and objectives.

Why are you motivated to help others succeed?

My inspiration for helping others to succeed was developed primarily through my experience as an average student who once failed, in Year 10 with negative attitudes, no vision, no goals, and no knowledge of how to study. As a young student, I was afraid of learning or attempting to learn anything new. Consequently, this flawed my perception about my ability to perform well in my studies. This in turn led to test anxiety and misconceptions about the possibility of attaining good results in the future. Effective study habits were an essential aspect that was lacking in my own agenda. I had no knowledge of how to do some reading on topics before the class, take proper notes in class, or carefully review notes after class, no dedicated schedule of study time, and no fixed aims in mind. Although I attended classes, I did not pay proper attention to what was being taught, and failed to prepare adequately for examinations, feeling others were responsible for my poor performance. In my final year, I made a decision to work hard, and gradually the fear within me and negative attitudes changed towards studying. I identified suitable learning styles, stated objectives, set goals, followed new methods of studying, and maintained a sense of high self-concept. This firm belief in my ability to succeed and determination against all odds let me to achieve my goals. My educational career improved accordingly: for my GCE (equivalent to GCSE), I achieved 4 A stars and 3 B+. My solid performance continued for my National Certificate in Education, my first degree, a Master’s degree, including my postgraduate diploma in United Kingdom. I am currently in my PhD progression in the UK, adopting the same attitudes.


Acquiring an education can be greatly enhanced if students have the ability to manage the process for themselves and challenge any fears they harbour and overcome any difficulties they encounter in the process. My aim is to help students to identify some of the hidden psychological factors that may have put them off studying in the past or prevented them from using the most effective approaches to studying. My book recommends strategies to help them become conscious of how they spend their time and develop effective study methods.


What is the difference between reading and reading effectively?

Reading is the cognitive process of decoding a text to derive meaning, with no other goals or motives in mind. Readers mostly read to obtain an overview of the text without worrying about the details. In contrast, reading effectively requires maintaining a dedicated study schedule and ensuring uninterrupted time for reading and note-taking in order to achieve the aims of learning. When you read, you skim the surface, but when you read effectively, you discover the treasure within the content of the words.



Please can you tell us a bit about your background.

Born in Nigeria, I came to the UK in 2007 to study for a doctorate degree. My aim is to improve my knowledge, to be better equipped in my area of study, to fulfil my passion for helping young people achieve their desired goals in life. Happily married and blessed with two children, two foster children and a granddaughter, I am a trained counsellor who has worked for over 18 years with schools and various charity organisations involving young people, both in Nigeria and in the UK. I am a professional member of the British Psychology Society, the American Counselling Association, and the Counselling Association of Nigeria.


I hold a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from the University Of East London, a Master’s degree in Education Guidance and Counselling from the University Of Port Harcourt Rivers State Nigeria, a B.Ed Guidance, Counselling and Psychology from University Of Ibadan Nigeria and a National Certificate in Education from the University Of Ibadan Nigeria. Since, 2009, I have been a doctoral candidate in Psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, UK.



What is next for you?


Once I have completed my PhD, I intend to work directly with students in schools and other youth institutions, both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom, giving presentations on a voluntary basis about goal-setting and study habits. I have a passion for helping young people to discover their unique and hidden potential and encouraging them to fulfil their destiny in order to determine exactly who they are and what they want by setting clear, measurable, and achievable goals.


My purpose is to build students’ confidence in their abilities, showing them that they can make decisions; stay focused, and apply self-motivation strategies, determination and hard work to achieve educational success. I would like to continue assisting students to understand themselves and develop the appropriate techniques to manage their educational challenges.


There is a natural human tendency to shrink back and feel distressed or despondent when we fail. Sometimes we may feel that the study tasks we face are so big to accomplish on our own, and we become overwhelmed and increasingly anxious when it comes to learning or trying any new thing. I would like to motivate students to overcome these fears and limiting beliefs and develop the ability to pick themselves up after a set-back and master the process of simply getting started.


Based on my experience with young people, I felt that the best medium for reaching today’s students is through a book, using accessible diagrams and clear points to convey key ideas and information about educational goals and study techniques.


Patricia Orlunwo Irikiko is the author of “The Successful Student” (£12.99 Panoma Press) which is available now from!


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