I happened to talk to a student recently and the conversation that we had inspired me to write this post. This student is someone who is targeting top ten institutes through CET and has not taken a single mock (SimCET) yet. When I asked him the rationale behind this decision, especially when we don’t have the liberty of time with us, he said: I am scared.
And he went on. “I am scared to take a mock because I feel that I won’t do well. A bad score will demotivate me, lower my confidence, and I don’t want that to happen. I will take a mock around mid-February when I feel better prepared.”
As usual, I told him to take a mock immediately to understand where he is at this point of time so that we can chalk out a plan to reach his desired score. If he pushes it by another ten days or so, we will lose out on the opportunity to work on the test taking skill in these ten days. And that’s the whole point. Test taking is a skill which develops only with diligent practice. There is no other way to get better. Solving questions without any time limit should be limited to the learning concepts phase. Once you’re done with the concept and initial few questions of a topic, rest of the preparation has to be in a timed manner.
Speaking of developing skills and overcoming this fear, I am sharing some insights from one of the greatest athletes, Alex Honnold. He is the only person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Free solo refers to climbing without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment. El Capitan is about 3,000 feet. Imagine going up there without any rope or any protection whatsoever and being the only person in the world to have the mental and physical strength to do it. When he was asked in one of the interviews as to how he controls his anxiety while climbing, he said:
The main way that I stay comfortable while climbing is through preparation, through training, through practice. I’ve spent enough time climbing that I feel very comfortable doing it. The key for me has been to take small steps outside of my comfort zone so that eventually I feel comfortable in situations that I wouldn’t have before. So it’s not so much a matter of getting into a situation where I feel really scared and then trying to control the fear. It’s a matter of slowly broadening to the point that I just don’t feel that scared doing things that used to be scary.Alex Honnold
If you have been anxious or worried or scared about your performance, here are a few pointers that might help:
1. Write down all the topics that you’ve covered so far and solve questions from these topics only in the first mock. Don’t worry about 200 questions. But if you’ve identified 20-25 odd topics and there are 75 odd questions from those topics, make sure that you solve those 75 in the first mock. As you progress, keep adding to this list of topics. Gradually, you will see some improvement in your attempts as well as accuracy as your content starts to get better.
2. Be specific. When students say quantitative ability is my problem, it’s a generic statement. Be specific and say: I don’t know Logarithms. The next question is if you don’t know a topic, how much effort is required to get to a fair level? Logarithms, for example, takes about 3-4 hours to understand and remember the basic identities and solve about 30 odd questions. If I can manage that, I will be able to add Logarithms to the list of topics that I am comfortable with. In most of the cases, I’ve observed that when students decide to do something and actually sit down, they are able to do it. But the problem is taking that first step towards improvement because that’s where you need to overcome the resistance.
On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.Steven Pressfield
3. Start with sectional/area tests if you’re not comfortable with mocks yet. For example, in a day, one can easily do 4 sectional tests and cover 200 questions. If you can do this with breaks, you can also do it without breaks. Try solving sectional tests back to back for 2.5 hours. This should prepare you for a full length mock test
4. Accept the fact that you will never feel 100% confident about your preparation. Nobody does. Having taken all these tests several times in my life, one thing that I’ve realized is that there is a lot to learn. Sometimes, we also end up learning new things that we haven’t come across in years of test taking/teaching. One can’t cover every single question. But one can have enough exposure to get to a level where one realizes that it’s enough. Just because there are more than 100 questions of a topic in the book doesn’t mean you need to solve each and every one of them. If you find yourself breezing through questions after about 50 are done, you’ve understood the topic. Either move to higher difficulty questions from here or move to some other topic.
If there are any queries, please leave them in the comments below and allow me a few days to get back. Share this with your friends and co-aspirants. Happy prepping! 🙂