I came across the following quote from Deepak Chopra the other day and it really got me thinking about the studying and test-taking process:
“If you’re studying for an exam you’re not thinking about the results. If you’re always worried about the results, you can’t study a lot. So to be engaged and detached from the outcome is excellent. Excellence is behavior.”
If you’re like me, when you’re studying for an exam, your primary focus is on one thing and one thing only: a good grade. While you study, you don’t focus on really learning and absorbing the information, instead concentrating on memorizing and being able to regurgitate just enough to pass. Unfortunately, part of the problem with standardized testing is that it often takes the joy out of learning a subject, forcing you to sweat about what you will be asked and how well you will answer it instead.
While it may be impossible (and most of the time, unadvisable) to just let go and stop caring about what grade you get, I think Deepak Chopra makes a good point. If you’re always worried about what grade you’re going to get, your focus will never be really on what you’re learning. And if you aren’t focused, you won’t be learning the information you need to know well— it’s a vicious cycle.
So next time you’re studying, try and put the test out of your mind, and just focus on the learning aspect. Hard? You bet. But by taking the time to really engage with the content of a subject, you’re likely to understand it better. And if you understand the content, a good grade will naturally follow.