What did you get on that test?

Stop comparing your grades

Something that I am asked constantly on and off of this campus is, “What did you get on that [insert literally any subject] test?” Whether it’s in my Economics class with Mr. Chevalier, or my AP Literature and Composition class with Mr. Herberg, that question is constantly asked.

And, when I get this question, what do I respond with? Typically, a quick and easy, “I don’t share grades,” which results in a confused look from the person who asked the question.

Then, if I really want to throw someone off their game, I’ll ask, “Why are you asking?” as if I don’t know what their intentions are with that question. A majority of the time, the only reason someone would ask what I got on an assignment, quiz or test would be to see how my grade compares to theirs. This is so Oak Park High School. Here, people are constantly comparing themselves. And, in an intense academic environment, that is synonymous with comparing grades.

It has become normal to ask peers what they got on tests, so people can mentally rank themselves and see where they stand. For some reason, it’s a common thing that people take mental notes of which of their classmates may be considered “good students” and others “bad students.” They do this regardless of the fact that it is none of their business.

OPHS is an insanely competitive school where students see their fellow students as foes. It seems that people see their classmates as enemies rather than friends when considering the academic atmosphere of our school. There is a certain desire to be the best, and in order to be the best you need to beat everyone else. This drives students to, in an attempt at furthering their educational career, see their classmates as an obstacle in their way that they must eliminate.

This competitive environment becomes unhealthy when the students become so driven by their personal goals that they see their fellow students as the competition.

Your classmates are not your competition, they are your allies. These people can ultimately help you in your classes, rather than pose a threat. Ask them questions. Study with them. You are both trying to achieve the same thing. An “A” in your class.

Are you and the person next to you possibly applying to the same schools? The UCs, Cal States, Harvard etc.? Sure, but, that doesn’t mean you have to consider them your competition. They’re just the person next to you trying to understand what in the world syntax is, and why Mrs. Schultheis loves it so much.

Let them learn and prosper alongside you, not in spite of you.

You are your only competition, not your classmates. You are the person that can make or break your grades. What others do does not affect how you perform on tests or quizzes. And, therefore, there is no need to compare your grades to a classmate’s.

Another reason why people may ask about grades is to genuinely make sure people are OK. I know I’ve had my fair share of exams where I would just “wing it” and hope my grade wouldn’t suffer (definitely in Honors Chemistry last year).

Making sure a friend isn’t going to have a meltdown over valence electrons is absolutely dandy in my opinion.

Asking “Hey, did you remember that it’s Avogadro, not avocado?” probably isn’t the way to go. But, asking “Hey, how are you feeling? I know you were worried about this test,” is the easiest, kindest thing a human being could probably do, aside from adopting a stray puppy or giving a kid some candy, I guess.

I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone besides my parents, teachers, counselors or anyone else helping me get into college to know my grades. That’s personal information that does not need to be on public display.

Students should strive for their personal best. Whether that’s a 5.0 weighted GPA or working their hardest and accepting whatever grades come with their specialized work ethic.

Next time you take a really hard test and want to know what your friends got on it, ask yourself why you want to know. If your intentions are to make yourself feel better, for the love of God, don’t bother opening your mouth. But, if your intentions are to make sure your friend isn’t having a breakdown after a traumatic test, please go right ahead. I may even give you a thumbs-up or a puppy.