Yesterday I received my final grade for my first year at university. I am very happy with the grade as it is what I had aimed for at the start of the year. I put in the work needed and it paid off. I feel like the work has been worth it to achieve this. However, did I really need to put in as much work as I did? I could have worked less and spent more time doing other things and still get the grade I needed to pass the year and continue into second year, after all; first year doesn’t count!

I know plenty of people who take this view and they are now progressing into second year just like me. Maybe they have been the clever ones to use as little effort and energy as was needed to pass. I can understand this approach completely. Although, for me, grades matter!

These are the three personal reasons why I aim for the highest grade I believe I can achieve, even if it isn’t needed:

1 – Proof that the work has paid off

Like most people, I find revision boring and dull. There are many other things I would rather be doing. So when I see that I achieved a high grade I know that the work was worth it and that I didn’t put the effort in to not get a reward.

A high grade is clear evidence that I worked well, without that evidence I would have to guess and hope.

2 – Habit

After a week off from any kind of work I struggle to get back into the swing of it. If I’ve spent a week being lazy, I will want to be lazy the next week. The good thing about this though, is that if I spend a week working really hard, I want to work hard the next week.

I recognise the danger that I face if I hold back from giving 100% and so I try to enforce positive habits. This is one of the reasons why I have worked hard this first year at university. If I had been lazy and done ‘just enough’ then I believe that in year two I would struggle to work hard as I’m not in the habit. Now I have spent the year working hard, I am confident that when needed next year, I will be able to work as hard as I like.

3 – Self-fulfilment

Often, exceeding the needed results doesn’t bring any extra external reward, however it brings a lot of internal pleasure for me.

My best example for this is with my A-level results. My offer to study at Lancaster was AAB. I had also applied to many other places, receiving higher offers from some. I had applied to Oxford, where I reached interview stage, but was then rejected.

When A-level results day came round and I found out that I had achieved A*AA, I remember lots of people asking me if I was annoyed that I had the grades to get into Oxford if I had received an offer. In short, no I wasn’t.

I was very excited to get into Lancaster, and the higher grades were a fantastic bonus. The feeling of knowing that my grades were good enough for all universities across the country was a brilliant one.


In summary, grades are very important to me. Not because they are needed to get to the next step, not because they show my ability in exams. But because they are proof to myself that I can achieve the goals I set.