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My JAMB scores success story – Gombe top scorer

Kawthar Shehu Toro, 16-year-old student of Pen Resource Academy, Gombe, emerged as top scorer from Gombe State, in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) results,…

Kawthar Shehu Toro, 16-year-old student of Pen Resource Academy, Gombe, emerged as top scorer from Gombe State, in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) results, released by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB). In this interview, the SS3 student spoke on the secret behind her success and future plans. Excerpt:

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Kawthar Shehu Toro. I am 16 years old. I am an indigene of Bauchi State. I attended Dolphins School Zaria for my Nursery and ABU Demonstration School for my Primary School. After my nursery and primary school in Zaria, Kaduna State, I joined the Pen Resource Academy from JSS1 to SS3.

You scored 348 in your UTME. Was this something you particularly aimed to achieve before you took the exams?

Initially, I was comfortable that the cut-off mark for Medicine & Surgery was 250, so I was aiming for 250 to 260. But then, I heard a rumour that Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria was extending its cut-off mark to 300, so I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and work to achieve more to get the cut-off mark.

I was able to do that with the support of the people around me; like the guidance of my teachers, a conducive study environment, and a good study pattern and reading resources at my disposal.

So, is it possible for someone to have a score in mind and actually get it?

Yes, it is not just luck. Our school introduced us to an app called Test Gorilla, where you can answer past questions like a JAMB mock practice. My first mock score was 230. I was not so happy with it. I relaxed and thought I only needed 30 more marks. But when I heard that rumour, I knew that I had to work for more. I really wanted to exceed the cut-off mark so that I have a chance at competing for admission. The score I got wasn’t actually my plan because there were some days that I was tired and wanted to relax, but I knew that I had to work for it, give up enjoyment and sleep. It’s not just luck.

How do you feel now that your efforts have paid off?

Alhamdulillah, I feel happy knowing that all the sleep and enjoyment I gave up turned out to be worth it.

How long did it take to prepare for the examination?

Right from when I got into SS3. That is from September 2023, when we were introduced to the JAMB mock exam and I heard the rumour. You have to prepare early because preparing early gives you a head start.

Were you always ahead in class or were you an average student?

I topped the class, but I knew that if I lived in that glory forever, I would never realise my full potential. If you focus on the perspective of competing with yourself and not others in the class, you will achieve maximum growth. However, if you keep competing with your mates, you will forever be stuck.

What is your reading pattern? Do you read all the time?

For me, I read anytime I find myself in an environment I know I can read and understand, although I am sort of a night person; I sleep early and wake up in the night to read.

But at the school level, for SS3 students, we go to school from 7am to 5.30pm. When I get back home, I sleep by 9pm, wake up around 1am or 2am and study till dawn. I also study during my free time during school hours to make up for the time lost because I need to study for five hours a day. 

We also have prep during evening classes between 4pm and 5pm, which is like a group discussion. We teach each other and exchange ideas.

Which university did you apply to and what course?

I applied to the ABU, Zaria, to study Medicine and Surgery. My second choice is also Medicine at the Gombe State University, Gombe.

Why did you choose medicine?

I’ve always had a passion for medicine before I even understood what it meant. When I came of age, my father often took me to the hospital, and when you see sick people or hear stories of doctors being careless, you know you have to get into the profession to make a change. If everybody shuns medicine, then when we are sick there will be nobody to attend to us.

Has anyone in your family encouraged you to study medicine?

My father wants me to study medicine because he’s a medical doctor, and some of my cousins are also medical doctors. He often talks about when a female patient goes to the Gynaecology ward and is being checked by a male doctor. He tells this story to encourage me. My mother and some of my family members also want me to study medicine.

Apart from studying medicine, do you have other plans?

No one depends on one job in Nigeria now, so I feel like going into entrepreneurship and perhaps trading. Even though I was told that medicine is time-consuming, I feel you just have to utilise your time well. Others have done it and I can also do it. It is all about setting your priorities right.

Aside from medicine, what other courses do you think you can study?

If not medicine, I will definitely go for engineering. Initially, I wanted to study AI engineering or software engineering.

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