Some well-reasoned thoughts on marks

I was reading a blog post this morning on an entirely different topic, which, incidentally, is also something I’m very interested in. But I came across this passage in the blog post which really resonated with me and I’d like to share it with you:

Do good marks necessarily mean that you’re smart? I don’t think that they do. Sometimes it just means that you’re good at picking what the teacher or lecturer wants to hear. Sometimes I’ve had very smart kids in my classes who haven’t done so well for one reason or another (they mucked up the timing in the exam, they got the wrong end of the stick in a question, they misread something, they picked a bad essay question). Intelligence is not merely a matter of doing well in exams; there are all kinds of intelligence out there.


This is 100% correct: getting good marks at university is all about picking what the lecturer wants to hear. Lecturers lose sleep over the fact that they’ve shown their students a concept and no one seems to get it. You will impress the examiner so much if you can just show them what they want: in the exam, repeat to them the concept they so desperately want you to “get” and apply it to the current situation. That’s how you can get 7s. I have already touched on this concept previously in my FAQs blog post here.

But some people just aren’t good at exams. I have known many of these types of people throughout my time at university. The trick is how to avoid stuffing up your timing in the exam, reading and rereading a question until you understand its intricacies, not misreading something, realising that essay questions are just too hard to do; take your chances with the problem questions!

At the end of the day, the author of the above passage is spot on. Good marks at university are not an indicator of your intelligence. I’m positive that most employers want to see that you will be a valuable member of their team, not just a freak who happened to excel at university. That said, good marks go a long way to getting your foot in the door, so it is important to try as hard as you can at university.

Quoted blog post available here: http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2011/01/19/chinese-mothers/