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5 ways how competitive exams prepare school students for life

"Hustle" is the buzzword of the twenty-first century. We must prepare our children to take over from the current generation of hustlers.

"When you all have kids, it's important to let them win," President Obama said to his White House interns in 2012. "Until they're a year old. Then start winning."

Indian parents, perhaps taking a cue from the former president of the United States, have the habit of turning mundane daily activities into a competition. The most commonly used parenting techniques in my home growing up were: "Let's see who finishes drinking their milk first!" and "the sister who brushes her teeth quickly will be rewarded with five more minutes of TV time this weekend!" Needless to say, my sister and I wanted to win at any cost, gulping our milk daily and running to the bathroom to win the grand toothbrushing race every night.

So when the Rashtrabhasha exam, the elementary drawing exam, and Maths scholarship exams were announced in my school, I did not think twice. Much to the delight of my parents, I signed up for all of them, and attended the required classes after school for these exams. I was choosing to give up my playing time and TV time to stay back in school and attend these classes. Some of my less competitive friends wondered why I was doing this.

"You are such a scholar with a collar!" a friend said, when she heard I had signed up for the Rashtrabhasha exam. She did not mean it as a compliment: to her, anyone who gives up evenings to stay back in school and read and learn was a veritable lunatic. I did not care. I enjoyed learning, and I enjoyed appearing for exams. I did not do very well in any of these competitive exams, but studying for the Maths scholarship exam improved my score in Maths exams in school, and I started enjoying my school Algebra and Geometry lessons. Studying for the Maths scholarship exam helped me overcome what Josh Kaufman, author of "The first 20 hours: How to learn anything fast," calls "the frustration barrier." The frustration barrier is "a period of time in which you're horribly unskilled, and you're painfully aware of that fact." The frustration barrier is the reason we want to give up learning things we know we are not good at, but the only way to overcome it is through consistent, structured practice.

And the best way to ensure that your child puts in the work is by signing up for those competitive exams. To be fair, your child could probably study extra hard after school by themselves and ace schoolwork as well as life, if he or she learned in a consistent and structured way. But here is why the process of appearing for competitive exams instils in them certain skills that could go a long way toward ensuring their success in later life:

1. Competing is all about learning self-discipline

You may have seen the memes: "Good things come to those who hustle" and "The dream is free, hustle is sold separately" on social media. It is difficult to teach professionals to imbibe the eat, sleep, hustle, repeat" attitude unless they have been taught to do so at an early age. To quote author Samuel Thomas Davies, "Self-discipline is about leaning into resistance. Taking action in spite of how you feel. Living a life by design, not by default. But most importantly, it's acting in accordance with your thoughts—not your feelings." That said, self-discipline is like a muscle, which is built through practice. You can inculcate self-discipline through practice just like you can tone your muscles, but building this skill is much easier when you start early in life. It's easier to build it as a new habit than unlearn your bad habits and learn new ones. Attending those extra classes and putting in those extra hours for the National Level Science Talent Search Examination (NSTSE), State scholarship, and Olympiad exams will give your child a head start to imbibing this essential lifelong habit.

2. Competitive exams help develop resilience

The first few days of attending Maths scholarship exam classes were not fun for me. All the numerical skills and quick mental math and logical skills needed to answer the questions our teacher asked us in class made me feel inefficient and unintelligent. I looked around me as less studious students raised their hands to answer questions before me and wondered where I had gone wrong. "I scored 38 out of 40 in my last maths unit test. My desk partner scored only 35. Why is he being able to answer these questions before me?" I wondered to myself, contemplating my next move. I could either give up and bask in the glory of my unit test victory -- you know, quit while I was ahead. Or I could continue to stay back after school and suffer through the ignominy of not being the first to raise my hand when our teacher asks us a question. I discussed my conundrum with my elder sister, who informed me that my parents had paid for my maths textbooks and classes, and she was not going to allow me to waste that money. "Quitting is simply not an option," she scolded me. But then something magical happened: after a few weeks of extra classes, I started thinking of the maths sums as a challenge. My attitude towards the classes changed and I enjoyed solving the problems our teacher gave us, as opposed to memorising the answers to the problems. Preparing for this maths scholarship exam taught me not to give up when you feel unintelligent, and that showing up daily is half the battle for success.

3. Competitive exams help develop analytical and time management skills

Whether you are a doctor or an engineer or an artist, one of the most essential skills you need in the real world is the ability to think critically, analyse information, and identify and solve problems -- quickly. Analytical thinking and time management skills are useful for managers and employees alike, and help maintain work--life balance and boost happiness levels. A competitive exam such as the Olympiad exam is essentially a pressure test: can you think fast under pressure? Can you solve problems quickly? Can you keep calm in stressful situations? Appearing for the NSTSE, state scholarship and Olympiad exams is thus one of the best ways to prepare school students to develop analytical and time management skills.

4. Compels them to step outside their comfort zone

Alasdair A K White, author of "From comfort zone to performance management" defines the term as, "A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress . In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible." As a child, leaving the warm and comfortable home environment to go to school involves some levels of perceived risk and stress. When the child starts getting used to this change, they are learning to adapt to new situations and to step outside their comfort zone. Experts believe that stepping outside the comfort zone is crucial to enter the optimal performance zone. Competitive exams compel students to step outside their comfort zones, which helps them grow. Growth is only possible when we step outside our comfort zones.

5. Boost morale and make learning fun

Latest research published in the Journal of Corporate Finance suggests that acing the JEE can indeed instill early confidence in students that helps them drive firm performance later on, when these successful students go on to become CEOs and directors of corporations. Going back a few years, we could argue that an early boost in confidence by acing the NSTSE, state scholarships, and Olympiad exams could give students an early boost in morale that equips them to handle the more stressful Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) later on in life. Moreover, preparing for these competitive exams has the side bonus of making the school syllabus seem easier in comparison, making learning fun.

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"Hustle" is the buzzword of the twenty-first century. We must prepare our children to take over from the current generation of hustlers.

"When you all have kids, it's important to let them win," President Obama said to his White House interns in 2012. "Until they're a year old. Then start winning."

Indian parents, perhaps taking a cue from the former president of the United States, have the habit of turning mundane daily activities into a competition. The most commonly used parenting techniques in my home growing up were: "Let's see who finishes drinking their milk first!" and "the sister who brushes her teeth quickly will be rewarded with five more minutes of TV time this weekend!" Needless to say, my sister and I wanted to win at any cost, gulping our milk daily and running to the bathroom to win the grand toothbrushing race every night.

So when the Rashtrabhasha exam, the elementary drawing exam, and Maths scholarship exams were announced in my school, I did not think twice. Much to the delight of my parents, I signed up for all of them, and attended the required classes after school for these exams. I was choosing to give up my playing time and TV time to stay back in school and attend these classes. Some of my less competitive friends wondered why I was doing this.

"You are such a scholar with a collar!" a friend said, when she heard I had signed up for the Rashtrabhasha exam. She did not mean it as a compliment: to her, anyone who gives up evenings to stay back in school and read and learn was a veritable lunatic. I did not care. I enjoyed learning, and I enjoyed appearing for exams. I did not do very well in any of these competitive exams, but studying for the Maths scholarship exam improved my score in Maths exams in school, and I started enjoying my school Algebra and Geometry lessons. Studying for the Maths scholarship exam helped me overcome what Josh Kaufman, author of "The first 20 hours: How to learn anything fast," calls "the frustration barrier." The frustration barrier is "a period of time in which you're horribly unskilled, and you're painfully aware of that fact." The frustration barrier is the reason we want to give up learning things we know we are not good at, but the only way to overcome it is through consistent, structured practice.

And the best way to ensure that your child puts in the work is by signing up for those competitive exams. To be fair, your child could probably study extra hard after school by themselves and ace schoolwork as well as life, if he or she learned in a consistent and structured way. But here is why the process of appearing for competitive exams instils in them certain skills that could go a long way toward ensuring their success in later life:

1. Competing is all about learning self-discipline

You may have seen the memes: "Good things come to those who hustle" and "The dream is free, hustle is sold separately" on social media. It is difficult to teach professionals to imbibe the eat, sleep, hustle, repeat" attitude unless they have been taught to do so at an early age. To quote author Samuel Thomas Davies, "Self-discipline is about leaning into resistance. Taking action in spite of how you feel. Living a life by design, not by default. But most importantly, it's acting in accordance with your thoughts not your feelings." That said, self-discipline is like a muscle, which is built through practice. You can inculcate self-discipline through practice just like you can tone your muscles, but building this skill is much easier when you start early in life. It's easier to build it as a new habit than unlearn your bad habits and learn new ones. Attending those extra classes and putting in those extra hours for the National Level Science Talent Search Examination (NSTSE), State scholarship, and Olympiad exams will give your child a head start to imbibing this essential lifelong habit.

2. Competitive exams help develop resilience

The first few days of attending Maths scholarship exam classes were not fun for me. All the numerical skills and quick mental math and logical skills needed to answer the questions our teacher asked us in class made me feel inefficient and unintelligent. I looked around me as less studious students raised their hands to answer questions before me and wondered where I had gone wrong. "I scored 38 out of 40 in my last maths unit test. My desk partner scored only 35. Why is he being able to answer these questions before me?" I wondered to myself, contemplating my next move. I could either give up and bask in the glory of my unit test victory -- you know, quit while I was ahead. Or I could continue to stay back after school and suffer through the ignominy of not being the first to raise my hand when our teacher asks us a question. I discussed my conundrum with my elder sister, who informed me that my parents had paid for my maths textbooks and classes, and she was not going to allow me to waste that money. "Quitting is simply not an option," she scolded me. But then something magical happened: after a few weeks of extra classes, I started thinking of the maths sums as a challenge. My attitude towards the classes changed and I enjoyed solving the problems our teacher gave us, as opposed to memorising the answers to the problems. Preparing for this maths scholarship exam taught me not to give up when you feel unintelligent, and that showing up daily is half the battle for success.

3. Competitive exams help develop analytical and time management skills

Whether you are a doctor or an engineer or an artist, one of the most essential skills you need in the real world is the ability to think critically, analyse information, and identify and solve problems -- quickly. Analytical thinking and time management skills are useful for managers and employees alike, and help maintain work--life balance and boost happiness levels. A competitive exam such as the Olympiad exam is essentially a pressure test: can you think fast under pressure? Can you solve problems quickly? Can you keep calm in stressful situations? Appearing for the NSTSE, state scholarship and Olympiad exams is thus one of the best ways to prepare school students to develop analytical and time management skills.

4. Compels them to step outside their comfort zone

Alasdair A K White, author of "From comfort zone to performance management" defines the term as, "A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress . In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible." As a child, leaving the warm and comfortable home environment to go to school involves some levels of perceived risk and stress. When the child starts getting used to this change, they are learning to adapt to new situations and to step outside their comfort zone. Experts believe that stepping outside the comfort zone is crucial to enter the optimal performance zone. Competitive exams compel students to step outside their comfort zones, which helps them grow. Growth is only possible when we step outside our comfort zones.

5. Boost morale and make learning fun

Latest research published in the Journal of Corporate Finance suggests that acing the JEE can indeed instill early confidence in students that helps them drive firm performance later on, when these successful students go on to become CEOs and directors of corporations. Going back a few years, we could argue that an early boost in confidence by acing the NSTSE, state scholarships, and Olympiad exams could give students an early boost in morale that equips them to handle the more stressful Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) later on in life. Moreover, preparing for these competitive exams has the side bonus of making the school syllabus seem easier in comparison, making learning fun.

14 Comments

  • Image

    Rajan Joshi

    Mar 30, 2020 03:03

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Pariatur quidem laborum necessitatibus, ipsam impedit vitae autem, eum officia, fugiat saepe enim sapiente iste iure! Quam voluptas earum impedit necessitatibus, nihil?

  • Image

    Ramesh Joshi

    Mar 18, 2020 09:03

    The pertinent point to consider in this decision is: The board merely sets the agenda of the syllabus to follow, it is up to the school to implement it, and up to the parents to create an environment conducive to facilitate learning at home. Though the school you choose is a major factor in shaping your child’s future, it is not the only factor. Other factors to consider are the teacher--student ratio, reputation of the school, whether the school offers extra activities, distance from home, and the values they impart to your child.

  • Image

    Rakesh Roshan

    Mar 13, 2020 19:03

    this is the description

  • Image

    a

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    a

  • Image

    a

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    a

  • Image

    a

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    a

  • Image

    a

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    c

  • Image

    c

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    e

  • Image

    abcd

    Jun 11, 2020 11:06

    ghi

  • Image

    Harshal

    Jun 11, 2020 02:06

    The pertinent point to consider in this decision is: The board merely sets the agenda of the syllabus to follow, it is up to the school to implement it, and up to the parents to create an environment conducive to facilitate learning at home. Though the school you choose is a major factor in shaping your child’s future, it is not the only factor. Other factors to consider are the teacher--student ratio, reputation of the school, whether the school offers extra activities, distance from home, and the values they impart to your child.

  • Image

    Rahul

    Jun 12, 2020 09:06

    The pertinent point to consider in this decision is: The board merely sets the agenda of the syllabus to follow, it is up to the school to implement it, and up to the parents to create an environment conducive to facilitate learning at home. Though the school you choose is a major factor in shaping your child’s future, it is not the only factor.

  • Image

    Shashank

    Jun 12, 2020 09:06

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Pariatur quidem laborum necessitatibus, ipsam impedit vitae autem, eum officia, fugiat saepe enim sapiente iste iure! Quam voluptas earum impedit necessitatibus, nihil?

  • Image

    Harshal

    Jul 14, 2020 04:07

    Boost morale and make learning fun

  • Image

    a

    Aug 16, 2020 09:08

    hi

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