Comparison with others: how to focus on your own success

Comparison with others can be stressful.
Academic comparison with others may cause unneccessary stress. Source: (via PxHere)
Many students can dread the moment when their results arrive as it leads to discussions with their peers. It is therefore important to learn about how to stop grade comparisons so that you can feel a sense of pride over your work.

By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor

As the academic year continues, students may be finding that their workload and number of assessments has been increasing. For many, essays and assessments can be a good indication of how they are doing overall, as well as can create opportunities for feedback on ways to improve in future tasks.

Despite the many positives of university assessments, many students can dread the moment when their results arrive, as it leads to discussions with their peers, where grades are compared and people are left feeling disappointed when they do not achieve as high grades as others.

It is therefore important to learn about how to stop these comparisons so that you can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment rather than anxiety and disappointment when receiving your exam results.

Learn to accept that everyone’s best is different

It can often be easy to look at your marks in comparison to others and think that you are failing because you did not score as highly as they did. However, it should be considered that everyone is different, and consequently so is everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, and bests.

Achieving lower on a test than one of your peers does not mean that you are any less intelligent or good at your degree subject as they are. Everyone will find different aspects of their course more difficult or easier and so, it may be the case that someone scored higher than you merely because they understood a specific topic better than you did.

Furthermore, everyone’s overall best is different. Although it can be hard to accept, the difficulty of a degree differs from person to person due to a variety of circumstances. For some people, they will achieve top marks throughout their degree whereas others may have only gotten as high as a 2:2. So long as you have utilised the tools given to you and tried your best during you exams, you should feel proud of yourself regardless of the grade or outcome that you achieve.

Set small goals to feel accomplished

Constantly being surrounded by those who are scoring higher than you can often make it feel like your achievements at university are less significant than theirs. Although you should consider every essay that you finish an accomplishment in itself due to the demanding nature of studying at a high university level, there are some methods you can use to feel more accomplished and reduce the negative impact of comparison with others.

For example, setting yourself a checklist of smaller tasks such as improving your score on an essay by a small amount or selecting one thing that you did not to well at in your last essay to improve on your next essay, can allow you to be proud of your progress and stop focusing on the achievements of others.

Look to others to learn how to improve

Being concerned with the comparison between your own and other people’s exam results and test scores does not have to be negative however and doing so can help you improve your own grades. This is because you can compare your essays with your peers and try to identify what made theirs score a higher mark than you.

Even if you do not have anyone on your course that you are able to compare with, looking at essays that friends from other courses have written may also be beneficially to you, as you may be able to learn key phrases or identify key academic writing style features that might help you in the future.


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