Why You Shouldn’t Aim for a Perfect Grade on Tests

Why You Shouldn’t Aim for Perfect Test Grades - Big Bad Brainery

It’s hard not to head into an exam with the aim of getting 100%. In many classes, especially in high school, this result is even realistic for some. Yet, even for the best students, it’s just not a good idea to only think about the grade while prepping for a test.

Here’s why.

First, a hyper-focus on the grade from the beginning will psych you out. The more attention you put on what you feel you have to have, the more pressure builds around it.

As a result, you won’t retain much. Not only will you potentially achieve a lower grade than you’re capable of, but you’ll find it hard to remember a lot of the material for a later midterm or final. If you’re in a class that builds upon itself each year (such as Algebra I), you’ll consistently have to review old information year after year.

Finally, when you simply want a perfect grade, you study backwards. Yes, backwards.

Meaning: you study all the things you are least comfortable with, the material you don’t know too well, first. It’s natural to think you need to fill in the gap between what you know and that 100% goal. However, that’s the least effective way to study.

Instead of imagining that your potential is at the max of 100% and fearing the drop that happens from there for each topic or question you don’t get right, consider the portion of material you know well. It’s likely 60-75% to begin with. Ideally, you’ll master that percentage first and then each new section of material you solidify thereafter is increasing your grade.

In other words, study what you already know first. Make sure you have it down without a doubt. Then, move on to the parts you have questions about.

When you reverse your study methods like this, you automatically take the pressure off. You’re building your foundation of knowledge for the test, rather than feeling scattered and in danger of losing the score you really want. Focus on getting really comfortable with about 80% of the information and fill in from there depending on your priorities and the amount of time you have to prepare.

Not only will you retain more information when you forget about that 100%, but you’ll get a better grade than you would have if you had pressured yourself into trying for that elusive perfection.

Want more details about how to create study habits that support better grades, without worrying about getting the A? Check out my series on YouTube on tried-and-true study methods for any exam.

If you feel that you’d be better able to implement this approach with personalized guidance, you may be a perfect candidate for my Individual Coaching plan.

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Chelsea Torres