Pre-testing for their next rank is a good review for students. On one side it gives them renewed confidence as they get to present the new material that has been learned.
In Taekwondo, they have spent the last months working on the new hyung (form) and one-step self defense and kicking requirements. For the Haidong Gumdo program, they have been working on new gumbub (sword form) and Focus drill and gyuk-gum (fighting drill). They have done them hundreds of times. They know the order of techniques and stances in the form. Usually, they can even tell you the order of techniques and which stance it should be.
On the other side, it also shows the glitches in their technique. It is very easy to fall into the habit of doing the material without truly studying it. The mere repetition of the form or technique doesn’t ensure that you are improving in skill. In fact, it will only re-enforce bad habits and mistakes. These habits will take a long time to correct.
This is where the concept of correct work comes into play. Students hear in my Taekwondo classes that a Front stance has certain parts that need to be in place to make the stance correct. They can even recite those parts to me, BUT…
Merely doing the form or drill doesn’t KEEP the stance correct. The phrase “practice make permanent” is very fitting to martial arts (and personal protection) training. The correctness disappears after training without focusing on keeping all the parts in place. Unless the student actively works at keeping all the parts to all the techniques in all of the form, the training time can be wasted.
If training in the martial arts is a method of personal development, then all studying should include the in-depth review and analysis. The physical techniques being performed must fit into the principles of the martial arts.