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  • Mr Ausome

4 Ways Successful Students Respond Differently

Having worked with thousands of students as an educator, it becomes easy to identify patterns and behaviors of students that uplifts them as well as those that cripples them. Ultimately, what differentiates a successful student from a less successful one is his attitude.

In this blog post, I would like to contrast some of the ways successful students respond to situations with those of the less successful ones. All the conversations captured below are real conversations that I had with my students in the past.


How they respond when they make an error:

Teacher: There is an error in your working.

Successful Student

Student 1: Really? Wait! Don’t tell me! Let me find it myself!...

5 mins later…

Student 1: I still can’t find it! Can you please tell me where I made an error?

*Listens to teacher’s explanation attentively.

Less Successful Student

Student 2: Yea… I know. I know there will be an error… you can’t get everything correct right?

*Ignores teacher’s explanation afterwards.

*Repeats the mistake again and again…

Key Characteristics: Successful students are inquisitive, enthusiastic learners and they have confidence in their own abilities.


How they respond after failing a test:

Successful Student

*Cries*… then looks through paper for mistakes.

*Cries some more for all her careless mistakes*.

Recovers one day later and declares: I’m gonna do 70 questions practice and make sure I get full marks for the retest.

*Actually practices 100 math questions.

Passes retest with 98/100

Less Successful Student

*Shrugs indifferently*

Justifies to himself “Well, I suck at math”

Blames the teacher for being crappy,

Blames that the school notes suck,

Blames the marker for being too strict,

Blames the education system,

Blames the canteen food for making him sleepy,

Blames parents for giving birth to him…. etc etc

Doesn’t study for retest, did 0 practice.

Fails retest again…

Key Characteristics: Successful students take responsibility for their own learning. They accept and face their failures with courage and are able to pick themselves up quickly. They are also motivated hard workers.


How they respond when facing a Challenging question

Successful Student

Student 1: Cher, can give me some tips?

*Teacher explains a little bit*

Student 1: Cher, I think I get it, let me try the rest myself!

Less Successful Student

Student: Cher, dunno how to do.

*Teacher gives a few tips and direction and asks student to try.

Without even trying hard, “Cher, I can’t do it”.

*Teacher explains the whole question and even work out the whole answer for him.

*Then teacher asks him to attempt an exact same question with some numbers changed…

“Cher, I don’t know”…

Key Characteristics: Successful students are active learners and they enjoy the thrill of a challenge.


How they respond to future challenges

Teacher: Do you want to get out of Normal academic and get promoted to Express?

Successful Student

Student 1: Yes! I asked my teacher and she says I need to get at least 75% and above for my math and English overall to get promoted to express.

Teacher: Good! So, are you up for it?!

Student 1: Yes! I will score above 80% for both subjects and make sure I get into express.

Indeed, he proved himself, he scored above 90% for his math and English throughout the year and got promoted Express.

Less Successful Student

Student 2: I don’t think I’m up for it. I don’t want to leave my friends in my current class. If I change to express, I might have to change house (School house system) and I don’t want that. Bla bla bla. Gives a 101 reason to lower expectations for himself so that he won’t disappoint himself.

Key Characteristics: Successful students are ambitious, courageous and proactive. They always aim higher and never settle for mediocrity.


"Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude" ~Ralph Marston

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