If we were to distill the mantra of success, it would eventually boil down to one all-important word called ‘work.’ We can add two different prefixes to this mantra—’hard’ and ‘smart.’ Let us understand what hard work means for students. Even mediocre students spend four to six hours a day studying. This cannot be considered to be hard work. Hard work means putting in at least eight to ten hours of study every day, seven days a week, and every day of the year. Your basic objective in student life is to study hard in order to build a successful career for yourself. At the same time, since you belong to the nation’s youth, it is equally important that you focus on health, fitness, sports, eating a nutritious and wholesome diet, getting enough sleep at night and focusing on your hobbies, interests and extra-curricular activities in order to develop a holistic perspective on national and global issues as well as develop a well-rounded personality. Your personality will help you to clear what is appropriately called as a ‘personality test’ which is another name for ‘personal interviews.’ Personal interviews and group discussions are important when you wish to get selected in top institutions or get selected in various private sector and public sector jobs.
Smart work, on the other hand, is knowing what to study. If you fritter away eight to ten hours a day in aimless study, that is waste of time. Such a lack of strategy can only get you mediocre levels of success. If you wish to become a cut above the rest in competition, you need to work smart as well.
You should begin by analysing the previous years’ question papers. When you spend time analysing the previous years’ question papers and solving them, you will get to understand how the latest trends are emerging whether it is the 10th and 12th Standard board examinations over the last few years or it is the Civil Services Examination patterns. Analysis of past trends helps your brain to focus on the task at hand. It is like an Olympic shooter looking straight at the bull’s eye when shooting his pistol in an international sports event. This is a crucial component of smart work. It will help you to do your examination preparation in a manner that will maximise the chance of success.
The next step in working smart is to attempt mock tests. For Civil Services Examination you will find such mock tests in CSR. These tests are prepared by education sector professionals who are experts in the field. They analyse past trends and frame mock papers which are a combination of questions that are actually asked as well as questions that are likely to be asked in the examination that you are preparing for.
Please try to take the guidance of experts in the area when you attempt competitive examinations like MBA entrance examinations, the Civil Services Examination or Defence Services examinations. There are renowned experts in every part of the country who specialise in these competitive examinations. It is a smart strategy to reach out to them and to take guidance from them. This step will again maximise your chances of success.
It is also a part of smart work to meet the toppers of
these examinations. You can also meet the toppers in the
pages of magazines like CSR. The toppers have already achieved the success that you are aiming for. It is priceless
to know from them about the strategy that they employed and the books, study materials, magazines, and
coaching opportunities that they found useful. Many toppers do not clear difficult competitive examinations in the
first attempt. It is equally important to learn from their mistakes so that you could avoid the same. It is important
for human brain to have an image of what a desired state should look like. Just like an aspiring batsman can model his technique after watching the videos of Sachin Tendulkar facing pace bowlers and spinners, an aspiring candidate can model his approach to an exam on the approach that the toppers had employed. These toppers can act as inspirational figures that your brain can begin to follow both consciously and subconsciously. In psychological term, this can be called ‘priming your brain and creating neural pathways in the brain’ that can drive you towards success. Remember that many important examinations take months and years of preparation. This long period can often be a roller coaster ride. There are times that candidates might feel down and out. It is at such times that a positive mental image of the toppers will keep you focussed on the long journey that lies ahead.
I wish you success in all your endeavours.
(Surendra Kumar Sachdeva)