Why grades shouldn’t matter….

The systems used to determine grades in most education systems ensure that only a few students can ever achieve the top grades. You can also never reliably predict how your work will be received by those who read it or grade it – it is outside your control so there is essentially no point worrying about it.

Rather than looking for external validation and basing your opinion of yourself as a student on the grade your work is given, you should base your opinion of yourself as a student on your work ethic – on your determination and resilience. Strive to become a dedicated, hardworking and thoughtful student rather than one who always gets the top grades.

Sometimes in my long career as a student, I have achieved top grades without putting in as much effort as I should have done and sometimes I have been very proud of my work and yet not received the best feedback on it. What I have learned is that ultimately what means the most, is how I perceive my work and whether I am proud of it or not.  

When I was 16 (more than 20 years ago) and studying English Literature, I remember writing an essay about the theme of the inhumanity of man in a selection of poems. Two decades later,  I have no idea what grade I was given or what the feedback was that I received from my teacher, but I remember how proud I was of that writing. I remember just knowing that I couldn’t do any better and being so impressed with myself that I kept the piece of work for a long time and re-read it again and again. This is what you should strive for. Aim to be so satisfied with your own work and the effort you have put into it, that you don’t remember the grade.

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