“Hi Mike – perhaps you can address this at the 4 p.m. hour…Yesterday you mentioned you had some pearls on the topic of Nerves and getting over one’s fear of performing under timed conditions. In order to avoid redundancy, is there a part in the Trainer where you talk about that? I still have the first edition and thought that perhaps I could just re-read that chapter instead of making you regurgitate what’s already out there.
Also, on a different topic, and apologies in advance if I’m being nosy, but do you have any plans to expand the site and teach an online course??
Thanks in advance!”
Hi Manchas —
In terms of the online course q — I am intrigued by the idea, but it’s not in the plans at this time — sorry about that! — the good news is that there are some great online courses out there already (which wasn’t true even just a few years ago) — I talk about them a bit here —
I do plan on releasing a lot of new, free study material, including several new videos, over the coming weeks and months, so if you have any requests just let me know —
In terms of nerves —
Some pages in the Trainer that you might find most helpful and relevant are —
— “Mantras” 2, 4, and 5 from Lesson 1
— Signs of LR Mastery – Pg 39
— Characteristics of Mastery LG – Pgs 50 – 51
— RC — Characteristics of Top Scorers – Pg 60 – 61
— Review timing strategies discussions from lessons 37, 39, and 40.
To be honest, much of the information about nerves and such that is presented in the book focuses on the value of setting the right type of habits over a long period of time, and so it won’t necessarily be of much use this close to the test. I do think, and hope, it can be very valuable for you to consider the advice for your retake, should you end up needing one —
But for now, I’d like to offer some specific suggestions for how to perform as best you can in just a few days — I’m working off the limited information I have about you, so, as I often say, please feel free to use what you might find helpful and to discard what you know is not —
Before I get into it, picture yourself on test day, with an LR q in front of you — you read the stem, you read the stimulus, you feel good about your understanding of the argument and the flaw, you go into the answer choices — right away (A) seems like a great answer, but then (D) does too. Oh no. You try steps X, Y, and Z and select an answer.
Afterward, it’s natural to think about the problem as being a difficult one because it presented two very attractive answer choices.
However, it could just as well have been that your understanding and your priorities were slightly off, and that’s why the two answer choices were attractive to you — that is, it wasn’t the answers themselves, but rather what you thought about and focused on before you got there — the two answers being attractive could be a consequence, rather than a cause, of your troubles.
So, to grossly oversimplify, you can split up the activities of your brain during the problem into two separate camps —
1) it chooses what you ought to focus on / think about and in what way
2) it considers, compares, and makes decisions about what it has chosen to think about.
The second of these actions is far easier for us to notice, but, during the course of a standardized exam, especially a timed one, the first of these is critically important — top scorers don’t necessarily know a ton more — what differentiates them is that they think about the right things are the right time —
So, I know that’s a lot of preamble but the last of those comments is the point I wanted to get to —
In order to perform as well as you can, you want to put yourself in a position where you have the best chance to think about the right things at the right time.
Okay, so, how, exactly, do you do this?
You can’t just do it by wanting to or telling yourself to, or we’d all be a lot smarter than we are —
Instead, you have to guide your thoughts, and you do this by having the right focus and the right mindset.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for getting yourself there:
1) Do, if you haven’t already, take a final practice test, as realistically as possible, and consider some of the suggestions I made about earlier in this thread (post #876). The more experience you get, the more comfortable you will feel.
2) Don’t fall prey to any last minute get-good-quick schemes that cause you to drastically change up what you do.
3) Don’t worry about thinking about a million things and covering every base possible — your success is not dependent on that — instead, go to the other extreme, and encourage yourself to be very careful about what you choose to focus on / care about.
4) Do think very carefully about, and try to prioritize, the best tools you have — the important things you’ve learned, and the important skills and habits that you’ve noticed are the keys to getting questions right.
5) Don’t beat yourself up over finding the hardest questions impossibly hard — because they are hard for everyone, and more importantly, because they aren’t worth any more — chances are that harping on the harder q’s and allowing them to get your spirits down will prevent you from getting right q’s you could get right otherwise. When you notice a problem feels impossible, know that the smartest thing to do is do your best, not over-invest time, and make sure to move to the other problems that are more likely to give you points.
6) Don’t worry about doing what you are supposed to do, or being as perfect as you can be — I think that these concerns can often underlie a lot of our nerves, but at this point it’s not about that — it’s about taking all that you’ve learned/developed and using it to be as smart as possible with your time and energy during the exam.
#’s 2 – 6 involve a lot to remember, and thus, collectively, run completely counter to the idea of having the right focus — so, instead of thinking about all that, I simply suggest that before the test you —
Remind yourself to be as aggressive as you can about focusing in on the right issues that will help you collect the easiest points you can find.
I think that that pretty much encompasses everything and I feel that going into the test with that sort of mindset can help encourage all the do’s and mitigate the negative impact of all the don’ts —
You are going to feel nervous — it’s an important test and you can’t change that — but those nerves can work in both good and bad ways — try to encourage yourself, in whatever ways you can, to focus on the above (as opposed to overinvesting in the hardest q’, worrying too much about the 1,000,000 you have to remember to do, and so on) and I think you can give yourself the best chance to positively utilize that extra energy.
I hope that helps, and if you have any follow-up, I’m happy to discuss further — otherwise, I wish you the very best on Saturday!