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The Case for Believing in Yourself

Why Believe Anything?

In the age of fake news and alternative facts, it often feels impossible to tell what is true anymore. Any belief you have can be proven wrong with contrasting evidence, and it makes us return to the question: “Why believe anything at all?”

This uncertainty has even leaked into test prep. With countless books and prep courses available, picking the “right” path can seem impossible. It can be tempting to throw your hands in the air and let fate decide how you score. Even worse though, is thinking that you can’t improve at all. This question gets right at the heart of what students ask themselves as they struggle in classes: am I smart?

Is Intelligence Determined at Birth?

Everyone has asked themselves this at some point, but we’re unsure of the answer. Psychologists still debate this question, and the lack of answers means that no one knows what to believe. But in some cases, the best course of action is to opt out of this migraine-inducing process of worrying about which belief is correct. A better choice is to simply choose the belief that will benefit you the most.

The question over whether intelligence is fixed or not has divided psychologists, with studies from Psychology Today saying that it is not, while studies by the Centre for Educational Neuroscience claim the opposite. So, what should you believe? Well, what psychologists in the first study used to prove their point was the idea of a growth mindset. Essentially, believing that intelligence can grow with conscious effort led to increased scores on tests of intelligence, like the ACT and SAT. Both the SAT and ACT are considered decent proxies for IQ tests by psychologists and groups like Mensa. The benefits of maintaining a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset can be thought of as habits to cultivate.

How to Promote a “Growth” Mindset

Carol Dweck, a lead psychologist at Stanford and proponent of growth mindsets, outlines multiple ways that people can foster a growth mindset in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. We at Streamline Tutors want to highlight a couple of them. Specifically, one way to move towards a growth mindset is “Know your learning style and use the right learning strategies.” While many tutors claim to know the learning style of their pupils, we at Streamline Tutors offer a comprehensive MindPrint screening. Mindprint is a psychometrically valid battery of tests, which gives our tutors an unparalleled advantage in recognizing our student’s learning style.

The results of the test allow our tutors to create individualized study plans that ensure optimal results from our sessions. The other step we stress is “choose learning well over learning fast.” Our test prep for the SAT averages about five months of prep because we want our students to master what they learn. This prepares them both for test day and the rest of their academic career, but can take longer if the student is struggling on certain concepts. Fostering a growth mindset is vital to navigating today’s increasingly complex challenges, but starts with what we believe.

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