Advanced Classes Present Opportunities

Grades do not define who you are, but sometime (especially at the end of the semester) it’s hard to remember that.

I remember being nervous for one of my first tests in sophomore year, the first test I took in an AP class. I felt unprepared, I wasn’t ready for the academic rigor ahead of me. 

Giving up wasn’t an option for me, I refuse to back down from academic challenges deemed to be “too hard.” I knew the class would be a struggle, but I hoped to prove myself wrong; I could do it. 

I stared at the FRQ in front of me, asking me something about how we could ethically test if playing video games and violence in children were correlated. I knew exactly how to answer the prompt. I read all the required material. I took the right notes. 

So, why did I get a C? 

The day I received my grade for the test, I broke down. I was so anxious about the test, I realized I began rambling and throwing in random vocabulary, not answering the prompt. Trembling, I asked to please use the restroom, leaving class with my test faced down, ashamed of the grade I earned. It felt like I bolted to the bathroom and began sobbing. 

The only thing I could think to do was call my mom, who, like many others told me to “calm down” and talked me through the test. She assured me I wasn’t stupid and despite what I thought that a “C” isn’t failing. My mom encouraged me to learn from the experience, leading to a long talk with her about my academic anxiety. 

We talked about how school is hard and it’s normal to be stressed. What wasn’t normal about my situation was the standards I had set for myself, leading to my belief that I had failed not just my own criteria, but I had let my mom down. I didn’t let her down, though. If I tried my hardest, I could never let her down. 

From that test I learned to cope with my grades. I couldn’t expect myself to ace every test. I needed to try my hardest and make sure I was in the right headspace to take the test. 

This experience provided a moment of reflection and I feel grateful that I learned from the situation. I can channel my anxiety into hobbies and learn from my mistakes. If I didn’t get 100 percent, I can look at why. 

What do I need to review to do better next time? 

I still refuse to give up when it comes to hard classes. I want to keep my work ethic strong, only improving it. But now, I know when to take breaks. I know that I am not failing my mom, or myself. I know that I can do anything, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it all now or overstress myself.