How to Stop Letting Grades Affect Your Self-Esteem

As soon as we start going to school, we are taught that good grades are what we should strive for. They represent hard work and intellect, and are supposed to indicate further success in life. However, this heavy emphasis on grades often leads to feelings of stress and inadequacy among students.

Have you ever received a result from an assignment that left your self-esteem at an all-time low and made you feel downright demotivated? If so, you might find these tips useful.


1) Face the facts

If the assessment had already been completed and marked, then you do need to face reality. There’s no point in dwelling on how much better it could have gone if there’s no way to repeat it. The best thing you can do is seek feedback from an unbiased source and use constructive criticism to help you with future assignments. Recognise where you went wrong and learn from it. It can be hard to digest something that is honest and critical, but it will help in the long run. The only way you can really build on a previous grade is if you accept it!


2) Don’t be so hard on yourself

Bad grades can happen to anyone, regardless of talent or intelligence. There may be circumstances that put you in a place where you cannot perform as well as usual. These could be health issues, family problems, or lack of resources. Whatever the case may be, remember that you are human and you’re allowed to make mistakes, especially if they’re not entirely within your control. As cliché as it may sound, it’s not the end of the world. There will be other tests and other opportunities to do better.


3) Remember success is subjective

For some, success is about earning huge amounts of money. For others, success is about being happy. Just because you may not be getting the highest grades does not mean you can’t be successful. Ask yourself: does it really matter? What is my idea of success? Focus on your own personal goals that mean something to you.


4) Put your energy into other things

If uni grades aren’t always reflecting all the effort you’re putting in, try turning part of your attention to something else. This could range from playing sports, to improving your cooking skills, or even learning another language. By doing this, you can focus on your successes outside the academic field and maybe find something you’re more passionate about. You could even end up making a career out of a hobby!


Getting a “bad grade” should not be damaging to your self-esteem, and it should not deter you from your goals. Ignore societal pressures and other people’s expectations of you by focusing on your own concept of success and setting out to achieve. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Failing a test does not make you a failure, it makes you human.