Grades and standardized tests should not define you

We, as students, are much more than what our grades say we are.


by Riley McNett, Staff Photographer

Imagine this: You have been preparing to take the ACT for a couple weeks. On a Saturday morning at 8 a.m., you walk into a classroom full of strangers to take it. You then come back home, feeling so relieved that you finished one of the most important tests of your life. It determines whether or not you get into your dream college. In a couple of weeks, you get your ACT score back, but it doesn’t meet your expectations.

The education system values letter grades too much and students, as a result, put too much pressure on themselves to achieve the highest scores. Many people equate poor grades to stupidity, but that is far from the truth. We, as students, are constantly reminded of our GPA, grades on tests or quizzes, and score on the ACT, mostly by parents, friends, teachers, and even ourselves. We are the ones who hold ourselves to the highest standards. A lot of students constantly see the word “achievement” and automatically think of having good grades and a successful job. A good life is often equated to the standard high school-college-career path, but students should recognize a fulfilling life isn’t the same for everyone. The ACT can obviously determine whether or not you get that scholarship for the that dream college, but it can not measure your worth, compassion, kindness, honesty, leadership, motivation, and much much more.

Tests do not define us, nor should we let them define our future. You do not need a 30 on the ACT to do great things, and you shouldn’t allow tests to hold you back from achieving what you want to do. As a student who is constantly thinking about her grades and how other people see me, grades don’t measure our qualities beyond the score written on that test.

           There are many things in life that people see can affect the way we define ourselves and how people see us like family, friends, appearance, values, emotions, and social skills, but grades should not define us. There are also multiple legal documents that follow us throughout our whole life such as a birth certificate and social security number, but our score on the ACT should not follow us.

            Lastly, finances, income, and etc. can affect how students score on tests. In an article from Washington Post, ACT President, Jon Erickson says “higher income families are investing more money (and time) in their child’s education than lower income groups can, especially at early ages.” In some cases, lower income families can’t afford to take the preparation classes or even take the ACT itself, sometimes resulting in worse grades. “This is an issue our country needs to resolve” said Erickson, “the opportunity gap is significant and isn’t narrowing and eliminating testing won’t solve the problem, it will just prevent us from seeing it.” Lower income families should not let this affect their worth, but for some it does, and the opportunity gap needs to be brought more awareness.

           Next time you are upset about your grades, don’t let them define you as a person. You may be able to use them as a motivational tool, but not to determine your worth. Let’s start allowing ourselves to embrace our grades and look at them from a different viewpoint.