Should Grades Define Our Kids?


Singapore is regarded as one of the best countries with outstanding academic success. Their global rankings in maths and science make them one of the most sought-after countries globally with the best education system.

However, their commitment to excellence drives them to introduce new, innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Singapore’s resolve to go easy with grades is a critical strategy that has improved students’ perspectives on their academics.

Singapore believes that grades don’t define the intelligence and abilities of the students. Also, producing the ingredients for economic success is not based on the scores the kids have on a math test but on their ability to generate new ideas to drive innovation.

For instance, Patrice Choong, a professor at Singapore’s Ngee college, believes that for a long time, graduates have become entrepreneurs despite the school and not because of it. Therefore, reaching their targets and converting their 100th customer is never due to their grades.

Additionally, Cindy Khoi, the director of the Ministry of Education’s planning division, says that the historical focus on performance has kept the standard high and that overemphasis on grades distracts students from the primary purposes of learning; discovery and exploration. Therefore, society must shift its mindset to praise several talents and successes via varied paths.

This mindset and perception of the government and top leaders in the country have brought about different changes in the educational system to reduce the obsession with grades. This article discusses the various innovations the government has adopted to ease the obsession with scores and how parents can help.

How Singapore is easing the obsession with grades

Singapore has introduced changes in its education system to make students become less obsessed with grades and focus on in-depth learning and development without pressure. Here are the most recent steps Singapore has taken to ease fixation with marks:

1.    Declaring courses with no grades

Singapore’s cities currently have courses with no grades, and about a tenth of university admissions are based on aptitudes rather than grades. Also, the public service has stopped classifying officers by their qualifications, focusing on their abilities.

2.    Eliminating mid-year examinations

For some years now, schools have eliminated mid-year examinations in some classes, including Primary 5 and secondary 1.

However, the government has canceled mid-year examinations in all primary and secondary schools in the coming years.

It is believed that doing so would give students additional time to focus on learning and exploring their creativity. Scrapping the mid-year examinations means room for regular assessments. Therefore, rather than being obsessed with their mid-year grades, they are more engaged in improving their understanding of a course through regular reviews.

How parents can help their kids become less obsessed with exams

Below are two effective ways parents can help their children become less concerned about scores.

1.    Don’t overemphasize grades

Good grades are superb, but they do not define your kid’s worth. The more you focus on grades, the less excited your kid will be about learning. They start to pursue their education to impress and not to learn. The pressure to score high grades may lead to desperation, as they may want to employ all tactics to earn good marks.

Additionally, it may also hamper their mental health. Research shows over 75% of students experience stress and anxiety because of exams. Also, emphasizing that grades are all that matters can affect students’ self-esteem if they don’t score good marks. Therefore, rather than facilitating their academic success, placing too much importance on grades can impair kids’ performance in the long run.

2.    Give breaks

Although Singapore schools are creating an educational system that is less targeted towards grades, many parents in Singapore do not help their kids study without grade obsession.

They overwhelm their kids with school work and push them to earn high grades, choking their routine with academic activities.

Although these parents mean well to their kids, this approach has proven to be counter-intuitive.

Studies show that playtime impacts children’s creativity. Therefore, constantly overwhelming them with school work and pressuring them to earn good grades without breaks will affect kids’ creativity and enthusiasm to learn.

So, give your children the time to relax, and explore other talents and abilities. Rather than fill their schedule with study only, provide them with room to play and try new things. They are less overwhelmed and become more motivated to study by doing this. They may also discover new interests and passions that will help them long-term.


Grades should not define kids because they are an insufficient yardstick to measure students’ abilities. This is why Singapore is easing the fixation on results by scrapping academic techniques promoting grades obsession. They also encourage parents to help their children focus less on scores but understand and explore their abilities to the maximum.


Should Grades Define Our Kids?
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