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Why Your Grades Don’t Define You


Exams. Midterms. Finals. Quizzes. Are you stressed yet? I am!

As far as I’m concerned, nobody enjoys taking tests. Not only does it cause a ridiculously amount of stress, but creates a sense of inferiority.

“What’d you get on the midterm?” is something that I’ve started to avoid because I don’t want to start comparing myself to others. Looking at the class average? Don’t even count on it. I want to feel good about my score based on my score alone, not everyone else’s.Why is it that we become so down on ourselves after we receive our scores? Why do we let our grades define us? Believe it or not, tests actually don’t show how smart you are!

No way. You’re joking.

Let this sink in for a second:

Can you imagine if we told kindergarten students that they’re only worthy based on whether or not they can color perfectly in the coloring book lines? “Sorry Jane, you didn’t make it to first grade because you colored out of the lines.”


That is all around ridiculous. You cannot simply measure someone’s personal worth based on one sheet of set, standardized material.  How is a grade on a test supposed to measure one’s intelligence, wisdom, and overall abilities? Would you say that Sarah, who studies two weeks in advance for 4 hours a day, is any less smart than Sue, who walks into class without studying and has a great case of luck and gets a better score? And yet, Sue is seen as more successful, harder working, and a better student than Sarah.

Why has education trends created this false interpretation?

Tests are simply a way of measuring how well the student can confirm to the teacher’s way of doing something. The criteria and content is changing every single year, sometimes dramatically. Whether or not you’re capable of adapting to those changes is insignificant; yet, a test try’s to tell you otherwise. It tries to tell you that this test is the ultimatum. Do not let it deceive you; do not fall into it’s trap. A test doesn’t show your level of knowledge. It simply shows if you’re able to work the system. These simple “pen markings” are a relative device used by students and teachers to compare themselves to other students. How cruel is it that a child can come home so sad because they scored less than their classmate on the spelling test, yet failed to realize that it was their best score of the year?

I’m not disgracing those that do get the perfect score, props to you, that is incredibly awesome and many of us wish we could do that. But to those that feel that you aren’t enough, don’t let their success make you feel like you’re a failure. Other’s successes are not, and never will be, your failures. Do not let another’s life define your own.

Better than that, don’t let anything define your life. It’s yours, no one else’s. This is your education and your time and money that you’re spending to learn. Education isn’t about getting good grades. It’s not called grade-ation. It’s called educate-tion. School is meant to educate us. It’s not about the tests we take, the grades we make, the assignments we finish, but about the knowledge and growth that is gained here. Do you think employers care that you got an A+ on your finance final, but can’t simply compute the future value of your investment?

Scores do not matter, comprehension and experience does.

How do grades define an art major’s work? Can you actually put a grade on someone’s creativity? Test scores are not a reflection of one’s hard work, people skills, creativity, kindness, leadership, openness, selflessness…or anything for that matter! The list goes on and on. These are things that give people purpose and meaning. Not a silly grade mark on an exam.

Tests aren’t living up to their name. They aren’t quizzing you on how much sleep you lost because you were studying for your law final. They aren’t asking how much of an improvement you’ve made since your last quiz. They aren’t showcasing how great you made that person feel by smiling at them. They aren’t boasting how happy your mother is when you help her with the dishes. They aren’t displaying how thoughtful you were when you delivered flowers to your neighbor last night. They aren’t demonstrating how hard you make everyone laugh. Tests are not, and never will be, a definition of your worth or success.

Don’t let a silly little mark on a sheet of paper define your current, or future success. This time of your life is meant to be enjoyed. Scores are such a minor part of our college career and we cannot let a test our sense of worth of others or ourselves. 

At my core, I am the biggest advocate for my friends and family - they are amazing!! I am a huge believer that traveling is one of the most important and beautiful things in this life, along with food. I am currently a student at the University of Utah that spends her time outdoors, exercising, reading, or exploring new local restaurants if I am not studying. I love marketing and anything that has to do with showing people how to enjoy their time here.
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