I am sure that many of us have experienced the stresses and pressure of needing to do well in school.
Getting good grades matters a lot during our school lives because it is emphasised that we are more successful with better grades. Though it is good to note that the definition of success can be different for everyone, many of us still think that we need good grades to get there.
But in reality, there have been many inspiring stories where people who have had bad grades are now thriving.
So let us see the importance of grades and if they are still the determining factor of success in Singapore.
Why Do We Have Grades?
For generations, grades have been used to judge what a person is likely to accomplish in the future. However, recent studies show that grades only convey an individual’s knowledge of the materials tested.
Yet, institutions and prospective employers still use grades to determine a person’s achievements and learning progress.
Here are some reasons why grades are important:
1. Grades allow us to advance in education
At different levels of education, schools have specific cut-off points. You have to ensure that your grades are within that cut-off point before you can apply. In some cases, Institutions may also use grades to determine your electives (or which subjects you can take).
2. Grades help us to get academic scholarships
Academic scholarships usually require higher grades than other scholarship types. Especially when it comes to scholarships to renowned institutions.
3. Employers sometimes rely on grades to determine candidate quality
Sometimes, potential employers rely on grades (specifically, grades of relevant subjects and courses) to decide whether or not you are suitable for the position you apply for.
Are Good Grades Important In All Fields?
Not all fields require you to have good grades to succeed. In specific areas of expertise, grades matter because they are used to determine whether you have a solid knowledge base or not.
For example, if you are in the medical field, your grades serve as a surrogate for your knowledge.
On the other hand, grades are not as crucial for less technical or more creative fields like Media and Design. Instead, you would have portfolios or auditions to feature your work which employers use to determine your skill.
For example, if you plan to delve into Design then it is good to know that it involves more creativity and experience to improve your skill and work. You also have to develop a more cohesive portfolio because potential employers and institutes will use that to gauge your ability.
So whether grades matter or not depends on which field you specialise in.
Is It The End If I Have Bad Grades?
It is never the end if you get bad grades. There are many articles online on people who scored poorly or are less academically inclined. Yet they still succeeded because they chose to follow their passions.
In 2018, there was also a movement on Instagram called “lifebeyondgrades”, where successful people shared their Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE) grades.
Although having bad grades might restrict your options, there are many ways to still succeed in life.
Here are some options you have if you have poor grades:
1. Take on vocational education in Polytechnics or Institutes of Technical Education (ITE).
2. Start your own entrepreneurship journey
3. Consider changing courses (your bad grades might be because you are not suited for the course)
4. Participate in auditions and interviews [sometimes you can get into courses with this, e.g. Early Admissions Exercise (EAE)]
There are many roads you can take in life, and although things might not work out for you now, do not give up! Find your own way and find something that works for you.
Will it Change?
Recently, the Ministry of Education announced that mid-year exams for all levels in Primary and Secondary school would be removed by 2023.
This clearly shows that they are moving towards shifting the focus from academic grades and tests to students’ interests and learning.
This way, we can afford to cultivate skills and gain knowledge outside of the school curriculum, opening more doors in life. So, we have more options too as we find new passions and interests!
Soon, grades will no longer be the only determining factor of success in Singapore.
Do grades define your life? Certainly not! Grades are not the only things that determine your success or person. It won’t reflect your passion and life skills. It only demonstrates your knowledge of the material you are tested on.
Everyone has different talents, so seek your own definition of success and find your own way in life.
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