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To be ‘potent’ is to possess power; however, ‘potential’ refers to possible, rather than actual, power. It is something that is capable of emerging. This could be good or bad; a person might have the potential to be a criminal, or the potential to be a politician (or both).

In school terms, ‘potential’ usually refers to latent ability, which can be drawn out through good teaching, and by motivating the pupil so that he or she wants to do well. It is hard to develop a person's potential in every area. If someone practises constantly in order to become a tennis champion, he or she might be neglecting the potential to be a concert pianist.

The inspection schedule no longer refers to the potential of learners, ...

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