Getting over your fear of grades at school


Getting over your fear of grades at school

Author: Suzanne Vallières, psychologist, speaker, author and mother

Have you ever felt your heart pounding before you look at your grade on an exam? Ever constantly repeated to yourself that you’re going to fail the upcoming test?

With school comes assessments, and with assessments come grades. Some young people are terrified of getting bad grades or failing. This can lead to negative consequences like:

  • Having trouble eating or sleeping before assessments
  • Not studying in order to avoid thinking about an exam or, on the contrary, studying so hard that they neglect other activities
  • Forgetting everything during the exam due to stress

It’s normal to feel slightly stressed about assessments, but it’s important that the fear of grades doesn’t become too strong. Remember that we go to school to learn, and we learn by making mistakes. It’s normal not to do everything perfectly!

Looking beyond grades

The fear of grades often comes from giving them too much importance. We have to go to school and do our best to succeed, but we also have to put grades into perspective.

A grade represents your level of expertise in a subject: what you have understood and learned. In other words, you have grasped X% of what the teacher wanted you to remember. And this percentage is not set in stone: with study, extra help and further explanations, it can increase!

Remember that a grade does NOT represent:


🙅‍♂️Your value as a person

School is an important part of your life, but grades are not the measure of a person. You have strengths and skills in many areas outside of academics. You may have good human qualities (e.g., empathy, creativity, generosity) or talent in sports, cooking or the arts!

🧠 Your intelligence 

Even if a person has trouble learning, it doesn’t mean that they’re not smart. Each brain is different. Some have more trouble with math, others with reading, others with memorization.

🏆 Your future success 

Grades are important in moving from one grade to the next and making progress in your education, but a given grade or a failure will not completely determine your success.

The Key to Calm: Pride in the work you’ve done 💪

What counts in the end, much more than the grade, is the feeling that you’ve done your best.

Being well prepared for an exam and putting forth your best effort will help you feel calmer during the assessment and proud of yourself regardless of the final grade. In any case, you can’t predict or control how you will be assessed. However, you can apply yourself to your studies, make an effort and show up for the exam. You will get an automatic 100% in your feeling of pride and satisfaction in the work you did.

Take stock of your personal strengths 💙

Here is an exercise that will help you reflect on the skills you have outside of school.

Having better knowledge of your strengths can help you overcome the challenges you may face by understanding how you are equipped to deal with them. It also helps you increase your self-esteem and self-confidence and be more optimistic and resilient.

Download the file


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About the author and her books

Suzanne Vallières, a psychologist, has been working in the media field since 1996. In addition to working with various magazines, she offers the results of more than 25 years of experience with young people as a specialized trainer, therapist, lecturer, mother of three children and grandmother. She is the author of the successful “Survival Tips for Parents” series, which has been translated into six languages, the Survival Guide to Disciplining Children Aged 0 to 10, the Survival Guide for Exhausted Parents and the Survival Guide for Grandparents.