Preparation and Overpreparation

Goint the Extra Mile

Going the Extra Mile

There is nothing like a defining moment to snap you out of life, or consume you.

It could be an exam that you waited for 4 years, 5, 10, 20 years, to take – the bar exam, accountancy, architecture, nursing, engineering, med, teacher’s licensure exam…  It could be a job interview to where you want to work for a hundred years…  It could be the olympics or a boxing bout or a title that you want to take away from someone, like maybe a beauty contest, or a book that you have always wanted to write… It could be a recital or a marriage proposal…

The single defining moment of your life.

You could be mediocre.  You could be winner.

I first heard the word “mediocre” from my teacher in Broadcasting 101. She made it sound like it is something we should not desire.  That “just getting by” is the loser’s mantra and that we are not that.

I was not sure I got exactly what she meant.  But I tried.  We all tried.

And I am eternally grateful to her for believing.

But she forgot to tell us that what separates the mediocre from the winner is overpreparation (well, it is one way – other ways are through sheer genius, or luck).

I know preparation.  I know what goes into it.

I have embraced it during the bar exams, knew that I had to – took in the long, lonely nights of only a book and several other books for company, early mornings, reading, re-reading, constant testing, dialogues, confirming and re-confirming, living with doubts, with insecurity… sending a daughter to the States so I can concentrate on studying… the days stretching into weeks and then into months with the resolve to pass getting stronger and stronger (the doubts getting stronger too)… the latest, single , most daunting, scary, unnerving, defining experience of my life.

But I passed.  Two points shy from number 10.

(laughter, nervous)

So there is a niggling could-have-been…What if … what if I overprepared?

I should have overprepared.

But what would it have taken to overprepare?

Other people I knew put thumbtacks on their beds just so they would not sleep, or tied themselves to a chair.  Others read what is outside the scope of the exams, or read all the materials more than 5 times (for those 5 months), did not relax (I would beg my husband to take me to watch a movie every Friday), broke off with their special someone, made new alliances.

Me – I just studied, whenever I can, wherever I can.  But it was not enough to go the regular route, I guess. And now my dream of reading my name in the papers as one of the top ten will remain to be a dream, the kind that can no longer be fulfilled.

Ramit of IWillTeachYoutobeRich sent me a video about a Harvard candidate, Betny.  Now this girl studied 3 LSAT books, took 23 mock exams (almost all mock tests available, eliminating 99% percent of the surprises that she will encounter), and scored 179/180 on her LSATs.

The LSAT or the Law School Admission Test is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. All American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many other law schools require applicants to take the LSAT as part of their admission process.

Other people who have stellar grades take the LSAT for granted, thinking that their stellar grades and sterling extracurricular activities would get them into the law school that they want.

But Betny thought that it was her golden ticket to any law school, that if she got good LSAT scores, she was good as in.  So she focused on acing the LSAT.  She was right.  And her reward was invitations from the top American law schools (she chose Harvard).

You can see Betny’s video interview here. also has a tip for those who do not want to be mediocre (this one is for those who want to write that killer article or killer book):

  1. Write.
  2. Write more.
  3. Write even more.
  4. Write even more than that.
  5. Write when you don’t want to.
  6. Write when you do.
  7. Write when you have something to say.
  8. Write when you don’t.
  9. Write every day.
  10. Keep writing.

Change the verb to what you want to do – prepare or study or live (I think you got the message).

Overpreparation… just a thought.  It is another way to go.

Be rich,


Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
Email: [email protected]

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  2. Juana B. Wais says:

    I’ve read in Napoleon Hills Master Key to Riches, one of the keys to success is going the extra mile. Overpreparation is definitely part of it.

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  4. Issa says:

    @Juana B. Wais It is true, this subject of “overpreparation” needs a second look. I think the challenge though is finding the time to overprepare. People usually have lots on their plates and to some, this no longer becomes an option. But I think in any endeavor, this really is key – so yeah – I will make it part of my mantra too.

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