International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is unarguably the toughest pre-college test in mathematics. (You’ll see plenty of examples in this post to illustrate this point.) And it’s also the oldest – the first IMO was held in Romania in 1959 – of all International Science Olympiads.
If you’re like most, then you take mock tests with following goals in mind: see where your preparation stands (or how much you score); test yourself in exam conditions; and hone your time management skills.
But top test-takers approach mock tests differently. They go beyond these:
If you’re a student who wants to crack the toughest exams out there, you would’ve marveled the effortless ease with which the brightest consistently finish in top 0.1 percentile.
If you’re a wannabe tennis player, you would be in awe of the games of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“Their brain, their body is wired differently.”
“They’ve natural talent.”
“They’ve innate ability.”
These thoughts cross your mind, and you convince yourself to live a ‘normal’ life because you can’t change your wiring, because you can’t create talent out of nowhere, and because blessings are divine.
What if I tell you that these things matter much, much less – if at all they do – than you think? (As we’ll learn later in the post, wiring, for example, depends only on our experiences.) What if I tell you that there is a path accessible to everyone that can take you too to the dizzying levels of some of these greats?
You may be smart, talented, and curious, and yet fail to achieve what some of your less illustrious peers have… if you aren’t gritty.
You may have high IQ, and yet finish your school/ college with a low GPA… if you aren’t gritty.
Fins call it sisu; Dutch, gruis. It goes by different names across the world, but, as research is unravelling factors behind success, it is being considered as the single biggest predictor of high achievement (tough pursuits, the ones that bring big successes).
After a poor performance in the mid-term test (or at any other task), have your thoughts wandered in this direction:
“I’m a total failure.”
“I suck in math.”
“Everyone else seems to be doing better than me. I’m just not cut out for this.”
“Life is unfair, and my efforts are not going to make a difference.”
“The teacher is biased.”
If such thoughts often cross your mind, then you display fixed mindset, one of the two mindsets (the other being growth mindset) first articulated by Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers on achievement and success, and the author of bestseller Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
When you finish an article or book on how a superstar became successful, I bet most of you wonder, “How can I emulate this guy?” You, of course, know ‘ten ways to be A+ student’ and the like, but you also know that knowledge of those ten ways is not enough. They alone won’t take you there. You need few underlying, invisible forces working like your DNA to lead you there.
You think you’re studying/ working ten hours a day.
What if I tell you, you aren’t.
You may be putting in hours by the clock, but the output – and that’s what matters, right? – may be equivalent of just four hours of focused study/ work.
High-achievers know this difference.
Everyone wants that small edge, which can put her/ him ahead of others. One such area is to squeeze in more effective hours into your study schedule.
What if you can stretch your effective daily study hours from eight to ten? It’s hard, no doubt, but achievable.
It’s an ultra-competitive world. In academic tests at national/ international level, if you don’t finish in top few percentiles, sometimes under 1%, you’re unlikely to achieve your goal of getting admission to your dream college or that coveted fellowship.
In pursuit of such tough goals, diligent students go all out to get an edge on any front – study material, tutors, diet, energy boosters, and so on.
And even Physical Exercise (PE)!
You read it right. Physical exercise. Physical exercise of a certain kind, though. And it’ll help you even if you’ve a modest goal of just improving in your most challenging subjects.
A big submission due tomorrow? Or maybe an exam where you’ve a mountain to climb in a single night? Willy-nilly, most students need to pull out that occasional all-nighter to atone for procrastination.
How can you make an all-nighter, first of all, feasible (it’s tough, isn’t it?) and, then, less taxing on your body?
In this post, I’ll cover when you must completely avoid an all-nighter, how you can make it less painful, and what you should do the next day to recover from it fast.