The Perfect Score Project

One mom's quest to ace the SAT.

What Is “Deliberate Practice” (and Am I Doing It)?

Theories about mastery feel much different from the trenches

Everyone talks a good game about the essential ingredients for mastery (myself included) -- there's "deliberate practice," and "10,000 hours,"  etc.  But I ask of you,* and with the utmost sincerity:

What exactly-- specifically and punctiliously**-- is this "deliberate practice?"

Does this all count towards my 10,000 hours?

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I just started reading Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, which seems like it could answer my questions.

I can tell you that I feel mentally fatigued at the end of each day.  I want the lights dimmed and no loud noises.  This is a particular challenge when you're living with teenagers.  My son told me the other night that I'm acting like Cromwell (he wouldn't allow "merrymaking" and made everyone wear black).

Oy.  Maybe I'm just not cut out for this.  Maybe the SAT really is for young people -- like what they say about having babies.

I can tell you I did not fare well when I ran my one and only marathon. You know how some people just pick up and get on with their lives like it was nothing?  That was not me. It did me in; I never ran again.

Maybe it's the adult pressures on top of the SATs.  I don't want to cook and pay bills -- and I don't want to take another full, timed practice test -- which PWN says I must do before the next real SAT (Oct. 1).

Here's what I know:

All those theories about learning and mastery feel much different down here in the trenches. (just sayin')

*The most valuable "you," for me, is the "you" who's been down here in the trenches.

**Yes, I keep repeating this word.  It's my new favorite -- replacing jejune -- and topping my list of words to bring back in rotation.


Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis


Debbie Stier is the founder of The Perfect Score Project, and is writing a book about her experience of trying to get a perfect SAT score.


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