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  • Dr Jolel

Why every Grade Matters - The Psychological Impact

Today in the UK is GCSE results day, this is when 16 year old's complete their secondary education. This year the grading system is a little different, it used to be graded with letters but now it is with numbers.


Here is an image from ofqual to demonstrate the new systems


So why should every grade matter?


I share my own experience to give you some context. I received 3 C's and 5 D's so this would mean in the new system I got more 3's than 4's. It can feel like the end of the world and also a very isolating experience for some. It can also feel worse looking at the table, our brains take in the information that there is a hierarchy. This can be further aided by the scoring system. This can shape our perceptions and then ultimately our mood and our mental and psychological state. The more we are aware of our subconscious the better prepared we are to prevent us from being harmed mentally, psychological and emotionally.


It doesn't matter what grade you got, it is just one marker of your life. What matters more is you celebrate your grades, because no one knows exactly what you did to get there and the struggles you had endure to complete your secondary education.

I felt a bit lost and isolated but reflecting back I was being redirected and it actually made me realise on what I did not want to do. I did not think about the grades and walked home in silence on my own and thanking myself in taking part in results day. I celebrated every grade I got because they were mine.


I learned that I benefit from being in different settings and classrooms, exams halls etc. were not the infrastructure that best enhanced or measured my learning. Also the peers too, I learnt over time, I engage more with a diverse range of people and in various applied in settings. My brain works that way. How does yours work?


We all learn in different spaces, with different people from different backgrounds to us. There are limitations to the system of education you came from. You may have had severe challenges in the family home and in the environment. Well done to you!

A study by Brännlund, Strandh & Nilsson, K. (2017) found in a sample of 109 223 that there are links between mental health and educational attainment. When there is findings like this out there, just remember there are things out of your control. Let it help you focus.


My parting questions for you


  • How will you celebrate your grades?

  • Who will you celebrate with? (You can do this on your own!)


Further reading

Brännlund, Strandh, M., & Nilsson, K. (2017). Mental-health and educational achievement: the link between poor mental-health and upper secondary school completion and grades. Journal of Mental Health (Abingdon, England), 26(4), 318–325. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2017.1294739



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