Why Grades Aren't As Important As You Think


The recent release of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) reminded me of my own experience. Oh, the chills down my spine as I waited with bated breath… okay I’m kidding. All I wanted to do was go home and play with my new toy. And that, quite honestly, is possibly what most kids want to do at that age. 

In a meritocratic society like Singapore, it’s very easy to get caught up with chasing grades and qualifications. As a child, I quickly learned the high correlation of poor grades and a sore bottom. Sure, hard work and perseverance are good lessons to inculcate during childhood, but let’s also remember that life isn’t just about scoring As. 

While it was my childhood dream to be a writer, I was told that one would be better off scoring full marks for “important” subjects like Mathematics and Science, rather than Art or English. I ended up studying information technology in university instead. Java wasn't bad — I did okay, but had no interest. Writing has and will always be my first love. 

That’s why I feel that the upcoming revamp of the PSLE scoring scheme, modelled after the current O’ Level system, is a step in the right direction. A small step, but a progressive one nonetheless. This shifts the focus — albeit slightly — from sticking to what we should do to what we would like to do. 

Shouldn't life be about pursuing what we love, anyway? Unfortunately, what we want is often influenced by the opinions of others. It took me long enough to realise that I shouldn't be defined by the expectations of others. So if you want something badly enough, go for it.

Now, I’m not saying that finding that one thing you enjoy doing will bring endless joy. The world isn’t perfect and many a time, what you want comes bundled with a dozen other less favourable things. But life's journey will be a lot more fulfilling at the very least. 


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