Category Archives: Psychology

All true preparation begins with the end in mind. Define your desired objective or outcome. Place your future self there, then look backwards and consider all the hard work, the training, the coaching, and the sacrifice necessary to achieve that victory. Before preparation even begins, commit to your GOAL.

Summer is well and truly here, and that means that teenagers around the country are finally catching up on sleep. It’s no secret that the typical high school schedule is not kind to teens’ natural circadian rhythm, or the internal “clock” that determines when you feel awake and when it’s time to sleep. Adolescence is a time for intensive growing and thinking, and that requires plenty of rest—about 10 hours a night is considered ideal for high schoolers, but between class, extracurriculars, homework and a social life, that’s probably not happening for most of them. The good news is, you can tweak even a super busy schedule so it works with the natural rhythm of your cognitive functioning. Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist from California, coined the term “chronotype” to describe the particular rhythms of sleeping, waking, working and playing that people fall into. Most people…

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Every student and parent in the U.S. knows that there’s a lot of pressure on kids to be “smart.” In fact, intelligence is very cool right now—Gen Z, or everyone born in the mid-90s or later, is the most educated generation in American history. The hashtag #BookTok on TikTok, where readers share book-related content and bond over their love of reading, has over fifty billion views. Quintessentially geeky games like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering are more popular now than they’ve ever been. If it’s brains versus brawn, brains are enjoying a winning streak these days. But society tends towards a pretty limited view of what intelligence really means. In our public school system, it’s easy to feel like you’re not smart if you can’t hack homework or ace tests. The SAT and ACT especially are mistaken for intelligence tests, even though they’re definitely not. Being book-smart is…

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For most of us, life consists of constant moments of analysis, definition, and reevaluation. Basically, we’re always trying to figure ourselves out. A strong sense of self can, in certain contexts, provide great clarity and comfort. Other times, however, we place ourselves in boxes that restrict our options and limit our successes. One of the great modern insights into achievement and success comes from psychologist Carol Dweck, who introduced the concept of mindset. Mindsets are essentially the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our abilities: — A fixed mindset believes that abilities are innate and static. — A growth mindset believes that abilities are able to be improved. Essentially, as the saying goes, if you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right. Since achievement depends so directly on mindset, we should be careful to cultivate a growth mindset in ourselves and others. Doing so, however, requires more…

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We’ve all heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” In fact, most of us are guilty of repeating that old bromide, typically to encourage some extremely imperfect activity. Nonetheless, this hoary oyster holds within a pearl of pure truth. Neuroscience tells us that practice makes perfect because of myelination. Our incredible brains never stop changing, which can be a bad thing depending on how we invest or squander our time. As they say, you are what you do, thanks to myelination. Everything we think, say, or do involves the firing of long chains of neurons in our brains. Myelin is an insulating tissue that forms a layer or sheath around the axon of a neuron. Apparently, myelin develops along neural pathways that fire over and over, and its function is to increase the speed of neural impulses along these pathways. In essence, the more we perform a certain task, the faster…

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Working in test prep is often inspiring because so many of our students are striving to surpass their personal bests to redefine what they are capable of achieving. Admissions exams are, by nature, challenging, in the way that all great tests are. The process of studying for a test should instill greater competence and understanding, just as rehearsing music cultivates virtuosity and practicing sports develops athleticism. If you’re feeling challenged, get psyched… that’s where real growth begins!

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