While we recognize the importance of getting good grades—they indicate you've learned something, further your progress from high school to college, and keep your parents happy—those letters don't mean everything. Sure, you want to do well, but focusing only on maintaining straight A's can lead to hair loss, sleepless nights, and generally irrational behavior. So how do you know if you're approaching grade-obsession? For starters, you probably won't be able to resist taking this little quiz:
1. How do you study for an exam?
a) Bargain with, blackmail, or bribe whoever I can to get an old copy of the test so I know exactly what will be on it.
b) Create flashcards, re-read everything, and stay up all night, every night for a week (coffee!) to make sure I will. not. fail.
c) Review my notes from class and readings to make sure I understand key concepts.
2. What do you do when you don't know the answer to a question on a test?
a) Take a quick peak at my neighbor's test. It's not really cheating! I'm just trying to jog my memory.
b) FREAK OUT!!! I start hyperventilating so heavily that I'm sent to the nurse's office and get to retake the test after I've recovered (and had the chance to look up the answer to that question).
c) Make a reasonable guess and move on, focusing on the questions I do know the answers to.
3. You get back your essay on The Catcher in the Rye and see a "B" at the top of the page. How do you react?
a) Immediately approach the teacher, accuse her of being an "idiot," and threaten to tell the principal that she's unfairly discriminating against me.
b) Tears well in my eyes and the world starts spinning before I faint.
c) Look at my teacher's comments to see where I went wrong, then I vow to do better on the next essay.
4. Let's say you have a high A (like, 100%) in math and your teacher offers an extra credit assignment. What do you do?
a) Just in case my grade somehow drops, I pay someone to do the extra credit for me and turn it in as my own.
b) Do the extra credit and make sure to get every point available. I love seeing 110% next to my name.
c) Don't worry about the extra credit and focus my attention on other classes.
5. It's been a few weeks since you handed in an assignment and your teacher hasn't given it back yet. What do you do?
a) Blatantly text and talk during class and when my teacher asks me to focus, respond, "Why? You're obviously slacking off."
b) Every single day at the beginning of class, I raise my hand and ask if the teacher has graded the assignment yet.
c) Forget about it until I get it back. I should really worry about keeping up with the current material.
So, how did you do? If you answered...
Mostly A's: you are clinically grades-obsessed. You chose the A answers because getting an A is all that matters. Even though these answers aren't rational, are often inappropriate, and won't guarantee that you learn anything, you don't care, because in the end, you'll have a perfect report card. You might consider recalibrating your approach to school so that you put more emphasis on learning and less on getting straight A's.
Mostly B's: you are borderline grades obsessed. While we admire your dedication and commitment to earning good grades, we think you could probably afford to relax a little bit. Go to bed before midnight. Take Saturdays off from homework. Maybe even get a B just to see how it feels. OK, fine. B+ on a relatively unimportant 10-point quiz. Whatever, just ease up on yourself—you can afford to when you've got 100% in every single class.
Mostly C's: you are grades balanced. Congratulations! You understand that grades are important, but you also keep things in perspective. You realize that trying to maintain academic perfection is sometimes unrealistic and unhealthy.
Do you think you're obsessed with grades? And is this really a problem?
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