In 2019, England almost won a rugby world cup.
They outmuscled Australia in the quarterfinals, and outplayed New Zealand, the favourites, in the semifinals. They played some of the best rugby the modern era has ever seen.
Yet only four years prior, on home soil, the same team couldn’t even manage to get out of the group stages. A remarkable performance improvement occurred in only a four year period. How was this possible?
After England’s disappointing performance in 2015, a new manager, Eddie Jones, was chosen. Jones is a rugby genius, and improved the team in many ways. But one part of his philosophy stands out. One simple thing helps his players maximise their in-game performance, while also minimising their stress.
This same insight can be used in other sports. It can even be used to prepare for exams. In fact, we think it might be the secret to preparing for any type of assessment!
He trains his players above match intensity.
In the run-up to big tournaments, Jones trains his players hard. They leave training shattered, sweat dripping from every pore. They train at a higher level than their opponents will be able to meet. On game day, when the whistle blows, the England players are calm. They don’t have to get out of third gear. It feels easy.
The secret to acing exams is to practice above exam intensity.
At nedandtom.com, we teach our students to solve problems from first principles, asking them questions above and beyond those expected on exams.
We don’t force students to learn how to ‘hack’ practice tests. We don’t fill their heads full of formulas, either. Instead, we help our students work things out for themselves. This builds a lasting understanding of maths, which they can use to answer questions in other areas.
Our students don’t cram one week, only to forget the next. They learn maths problem solving for their whole life.
Like England rugby, we practice with intensity, but unlike sports practice, our classes are fun and encouraging. Students leave our sessions with aching brains, but also the satisfaction that they are mastering a new skill.
This is not just the best way to smash exams. It teaches basic problem solving skills which are important in every part of life. Because our students have seen so many tough problems, by the time they get to exams, they are relaxed. They know they can do them. Like England beating Australia at rugby, it feels easy.