As far as I can remember, my goal for any test is to get a perfect score.
Personally, I thought that this was the goal for everyone, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that many people don’t aim for this grade, citing is as unrealistic. Of course, this score was not unusual for me, so I continued to try and get these grades.
However, as I’ve finished CÉGEP and am about to start my university studies, I’ve become more reflective on the topic of grades. I’ve written about this before, but there are two principle reasons I try and get a perfect score on any test I take: I like to push myself, and I know that good grades means bursaries. That’s it. Therefore, I’ve started to reflect on what it means to want to get perfect grades.
The first thing is that it shows that I want to learn and master principles. However, that isn’t the only way to master what you learn. After all, just because you don’t really absorb the material before a test does not mean you cannot learn it after a longer period of time. As such, good marks show initiative, but they aren’t necessarily required.
The second thing is that good grades don’t really change what you do in the day-to-day duties of a scientist. I will still have to calculate things, and as long as I know how to do the general steps (which can be learnt and referenced over and over until it sinks in like any employment), I’ll be good to go. I’m reminded of a comment one student who is older than I and was working at the university for the summer: “I barely even know how any of this computer code works. I just use it.” Any task can be learnt, even if you didn’t get a perfect score on an exam back when you were a student.
This is why the long-term need for great grades seems pointless to me. Or, said another way, I don’t think is a goal that should be pushed on to anyone. I do it because I enjoy the challenge and want to financially aid myself through my studies, but no one needs to do this. In the long term, I don’t think it will make you a better scientist (except for the opportunities that one may get because of their good grades).
A good scientist, like I always say, is about curiosity and trying to find all the ways that your results may have fooled you.