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Lessons SAT/ACT students can take from the Art of War

The art of war

If you know the enemy and yourself, you need not be afraid of the outcome of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, then every victory will also be a defeat for you. If you neither know your enemy nor yourself, you will lose every battle.

The Art of War by the Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu is a classic book on strategy and leadership that has been widely studied. Lessons from this book have been applied in various fields, including business, sports, and the military. Applying these lessons to competitive exams such as the SATs helps with preparation and better performance.

Once students learn their own behavioral and academic strengths and weaknesses, they become more capable of doing well in competitive exams such as the SATs. Below are five lessons for students to keep in mind while preparing for such exams:

Lesson 1: Identify your weaknesses

It is crucial for students to know their strengths and weaknesses, in addition to understanding the exam’s syllabus, pattern, and content. By doing this, students can create a strategy that maximizes their strengths and minimizes their weaknesses.

For example, suppose a student struggles with time management. In that case, this must be identified as a weakness, and a plan should be made to address it, such as practicing time management techniques or breaking the exam down into smaller sections.

Lesson 2: The Two 'P's' - Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation involve making a study plan, setting goals, and staying organized. It also means getting familiar with the exam pattern and practicing past questions. By planning and preparing well, students can increase their chances of success. For example, making a study plan and setting specific goals to cover a topic can improve preparation speed and help you stay focused and motivated.

Lesson 3: Flexibility and Adaptability

Being flexible and adaptable means being able to adapt to new information and changing circumstances, and it also means being able to adjust one’s strategy and tactics as needed. For example, if a student finds that their study plan isn’t working as well as they had hoped,  they should be open to changing it and trying new approaches.

Lesson 4: Focus and Concentration

Focus and Concentration

To do well in exams such as the SATs, students need to be able to focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions. They must be able to sit for long periods and solve tests to build their endurance.

Lesson 5: Self-control and Discipline

Self-control means being able to control one’s emotions and reactions, and it also means being able to discipline yourself to study and practice consistently. Students who immediately panic on seeing difficult questions or lose concentration after solving a certain number of questions need to learn to stay calm under stressful situations. This can be done by regularly taking practice assessments in an exam-like environment.



Hence, we can be successful in competitive exams by knowing ourselves and our exams, planning and preparing, being flexible and adaptable, being focused and concentrated, and having self-control and discipline.

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