Have you ever been good at anything from day One? How many skills that you have now did you always have? And how many did you acquire? Being good at succeeding in competitive tests is a skill that is acquired.
As a student, most of us are often afraid of failure. We don’t want to be called failures and losers; we don’t want to mess up. Sometimes we would rather not take a test, than take it and fail at it. This mentality often pervades students’ community globally. And it inhibits us to excel in life.
“I want to be a world class IT professional working for a top MNC”. We often hear people say that. Dreaming wild! I’m not saying it can’t be done. But, we are not born with skillsets to achieve our dreams. We learn by practice, we learn by doing and that’s how we make our dreams come true.
Practice, as you rightly understand is the act of repeatedly rehearsing or redoing a behaviour or engaging in an activity again and again, for the purpose of improving or mastering it, as in the phrase “practice makes a man perfect”.
Practice is the backbone of every successful athlete, sportsman, musician, singer, sportsman, film star, speaker and so many other acclaimed success heroes. Practice helps you to enhance or refine a newly acquired skill as well as maintain skill level. Studies are no exception. Practice helps in improving reading. writing, grammar, spellings, quizzes, rehearsing formulae and problem solving skills. For success in competitive tests, practice plays a very pivotal role.
Another important fact about practice is that learning acquired through practice provides you a very high retention rate compared to lectures. Following pyramid shows the average retention rates for different methods of learning. Practice doing gets you 75% retention as compared to lectures which give you hardly 5% retention. So, it’s important that you continually engage in practicing the problems which build your skill sets for ultimate success in your dream competitive test.
How well you improve with practice depends on several factors, such as the frequency with which you engage in practice and the type of feedback that’s available to you for improvement. IF feedback is not available from your Guide or from self-reference to any reliable information source, then the practice tends to be ineffective and at times even detrimental to learning. If you do not practice regularly and often enough, your grip on the subject loses and you are likely to forget what you had learnt. Therefore, you need to schedule your practice in order to ensure that you have performed enough practice to reach your success target. How much of the practice you need would depend upon the kind of tests you plan to prepare for, your existing skill levels and your individual abilities. Some of you may improve in Mathematics pretty faster than others. Practice may be effective if repeated only once, say for some factual information or two-three times when it comes to concepts or it may be practiced many times when it comes to advanced application of skills and concepts.
Many students believe that toppers are endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of average performers. Agreeable, their performance and abilities are qualitatively different from those of average performers but these differences are not due to innate talent. Differences between the toppers and average performers reflect a long period of deliberate effort to improve their performance. A major feature of practice doing is, how one practices than merely performing a practice a large number of times. A topper breaks down the skills that are required to be an expert in the topic and focusses on improving those skill-sets during practice. Another important feature of practice is that you need to continually practice a skill at more challenging levels with the intention of mastering it. Practicing complex problems may produce errors. Such errors provide a student with rich feedback that results in improvement for future performance.
Practical principles of learning by practice doing are:
- Repetitive performance of intended skill sets (problems)
- Rigorous continuing skill assessment
- Specific information feedback
- Better skill performance
In order to be a topper, you need to focus on the following:
- Planning (organize your studies and practice in a structured way)
- Concentration/dedication (provides you a higher attention span)
- Repetition/revision (you need to have a strong tendency to practice)
- Study style/self-reflection (you need to self-regulate learning)
Repeated practice helps not only the new learners but it also helps the advanced learners. As your proficiency on a topic is developed, you need to focus and plan your learning around specific deficiencies.
Finally, here is yet another piece of advice. Skills fade with time due to non-use. This is often referred to as being ‘out of practice’. Therefore, you need to perform practice on a regular basis to keep skills and abilities honed and surely, you would be a topper.