Tag Archives: practice

Success–particularly massive success over incredible obstacles–is understandably difficult to achieve in any field. If you accept the wisdom of the bell curve, you see that any sufficiently large group of people ranked in any complex skill like fencing or juggling will naturally huddle within one standard deviation of the mean with both highest and lowest performers charting an increasingly sloping path to either elite performance or utter uselessness. True success eludes those not fully dedicated to earning it. This lesson plays out time and again in business, which is why an insight first shared in 1940 still resonates today. That is when insurance professional Albert E. N. Gray identified the common denominator of success in a memorable speech at the annual convention of the National Association of Life Underwriters. He may have been speaking about selling insurance but his words should hit home with anyone seeking success in any field…

Read more

Like most test prep professionals, I’ve become a relentless proponent of perfect practice, meaning the kind of practice that drives the highest levels of success. My friend and colleague Brett Etheridge of Dominate Test Prep shares the same commitment to perfect practice, which comes out in a detailed discussion we had on his podcast: Proven Principles of Perfect Practice with Mike Bergin Among other things, we covered the following fundamentals of practice: The 4 Steps of Deliberate Practice; The distinction between “studying” and “practice” and the role that each should play in your test preparation The danger of taking too many practice tests; How often you should take practice tests, and things you should do to ensure that they replicate the actual test-day experience; Why some students perform worse on the real exam than on their practice tests, and what you can do to ensure that doesn’t happen for you;…

Read more

Everybody knows that practice makes perfect, or rather that perfect practice makes perfect. Once you have adopted the four essential elements of deliberate practice, you have taken your first steps towards the wildest levels of success you can imagine… as long as you practice. If you are a striver, then, the question you’ll always be grappling with is this: “Should you be practicing now?” Thankfully, Bruce Lee has all the answers…     Shouldn’t you be practicing now?

Autumn means marathon season, not to mention stampedes of school children at cross-country trails all across the United States. Distance running may be grueling, but the sport appears to grow more popular every year. Interestingly, few if any sports demand such a singular focus on intrinsic motivation, mental training, and success measured not by the performance of others but against personal bests. In this, distance running looks a lot like test preparation. TRAINING Even marathoner Gordon Bakoulis Bloch saw the similarities when she said, “You can’t cram for the final.” Long distance running requires physical and mental training over a long period, along with a deliberate focus on achieving and maintaining peak readiness. Bloch added, “You’re not going to get any fitter during the last couple of weeks before the race. So don’t try cramming any last minute long runs or extra training. The best thing you can do for…

Read more

Whatever scores you or your child have recently earned on important tests, you probably want to see improvement. Honestly, just about everyone–from the testing elite to those barely scraping by–aspires to greater achievement. Unfortunately, the path to next level performance doesn’t always look that appetizing. How can a test taker who fell short of his or her score goals improve those scores? How does anyone get better at anything challenging and worthwhile? How does a pianist improve speed, timing, and precision on difficult pieces? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a runner increase speed while building endurance? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a baker create more consistently elaborate and delicious confections? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a baseball player improve batting average? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does a potter expand the size and volume of pots thrown while maintaining quality? COACHING AND PRACTICE How does an actor master all of the…

Read more

Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are long… really long. These exams feel far more like marathons than sprints. The marathon comparison may actually be unfair to the famous run, as elite race winners finish their 26.2 in less than 2.5 hours. At 3.5 hours each (without the essay, of course) the SAT and ACT demand much more, at least mentally. Like marathons, these long tests challenge a participant’s body, mind, and will. So what do marathoners know that test takers can learn from? Mimic the Course Runner’s World suggests that, when possible, you start doing training runs on the same topography as the marathon. “For example, go up and down lots of hills if you’re running New York City, and get used to several hours of pancake flatness if you’re running a course like Chicago.” The benefits of simulating your race day challenge in training matches up well…

Read more

6/14