The Effects of Tests and Grades on Self-Esteem

Teenagers develop their personality and mentality over time by adjusting themselves significantly to fit particular standards that society expects from them. Students lose confidence in their capacity to solve problems when their grades are below expectations. The never-ending competition for individuals who score the best grades damages their mindsets and abilities of the poor performers. Academically poor students feel incompetent in the daily environment that is more competitive. There is a chance of developing low self-esteem due to students’ hypothetical social status or the number of good performances that they get in exams (Effiom & Bassey, 2018). Individuals who achieve good grades are more likely to develop higher self-esteem levels than those who fail to. An increase in the confidence of learners is positively linked to excellent academic achievement. However, poor performance lowers the self-worth of learners despite its cause.

The best way to improve the academic excellence of learners is to increase their confidence by encouraging them when they perform poorly. Motivating students plays an essential role in learning and helps them develop a sense of responsibility in society. Some people believe that their intellectual capacity is a fixed trait, while others think that theirs can be acquired through education and effort. These distinct faces of action create different psychological worlds. People with a fixed mindset prioritize how others judge them with respect to being smart or not. Individuals in this category reject opportunities if they might make mistakes (Coelho & Romão, 2017). The fixed intelligence mindset does not provide viable ways to improve. Students who believe that they can develop their intelligence focus on a good performance, while those who fail to focus on things that may enhance their inspiration, resilience, and learning.

Self-validation is the process through which students determine their self-worth by comparing themselves to classmates. Most college students feel that their relationships with others is best on their performance in class. Evidently, poor performance may have an adverse effect on students because it makes them feel inferior to their classmates who perform above average (Brummelman & Sedikides, 2020). Part of the learners believes that grades are the definitive determination of their self-esteem. If they receive bad grades instead of good ones, they perceive themselves as failures. The grading system of numerous institutions has fundamentally developed into a competition for the highest scores in tests. Learning institutions should appreciate the implications of poor performance and the challenge of helping students overcome low self-esteem associated with low grades.

Even though the grading system is important in determining the academic progress of learners and applying information, it increases hopelessness and nervousness in students. According to Coelho and Romão (2017), comparing performing students to non-performing ones is damaging to their mental health. Evaluating the worth of learners by likening their educational and extramural merits to others will force them to equate themselves to everyone around them, affecting their general self-esteem. The heavy focus on good grades hinders learning and exploration because students feel that they don’t have the intelligence to try new learning methods. Schools should realize that good grades do not define the students’ worth; hence they should provide opportunities for the learners to explore different fields and faculties that do not require much pressure to perform well. The increased emphasis on grades and tests erodes the joy of learning. Students should also be made to understand that no grade or test is worth self-hate or self-depreciation.


Brummelman, E., & Sedikides, C. (2020). Raising children with high self‐esteem (but not narcissism). Child Development Perspectives, 14(2), 83-89. Web.

Coelho, V. A., & Romão, A. M. (2017). The impact of secondary school transition on self-concept and self-esteem. Revista de Psicodidáctica (English ed.), 22(2), 85-92. Web.

Effiom, B. E., & Bassey, B. A. (2018). Test anxiety, self-esteem and academic performance among secondary school students in Cross River State, Nigeria. International Journal of Education and Evaluation, 4(9), 18-27. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. 2023. "The Effects of Tests and Grades on Self-Esteem." October 12, 2023.

1. ChalkyPapers. "The Effects of Tests and Grades on Self-Esteem." October 12, 2023.


ChalkyPapers. "The Effects of Tests and Grades on Self-Esteem." October 12, 2023.