Less than 90%

She called me 5 times in the midst of a meeting I was in. I excused myself to take her call. “Jessica’s results are being announced today,” she said animatedly. “That’s great!” I replied.

And, she continued, “I’m so worried, Farzana. I haven’t slept a wink last night!”


“What if she doesn’t do well?”

“What if she doesn’t? How will things change?” I said.

“She won’t get into a good college. She’ll feel bad about it especially if her friends score better than her. She’ll feel depressed. I’ll be depressed!” she trailed off.

Examination results. It is but a tip of the iceberg called fear among children and their parents. The children are under intense pressure to score high…no…higher by parents and society, alike. The pressure they go through is far more piercing. From their peers and the all-pervading thought that admittance into any coveted and reputable institution will be tantamount to the Lannisters of GoT attempting to climb the Wall in the North or conquering Westoros.

To put things in perspective, your worthiness seems to be anchored to the marks you receive in your examination of subjects that you may or may not ever use in the real world. So as a child you do your damnedest to study hard and are likely to complement the education with tuitions so that every crack that may leak the learning, is sealed. Parents, leave no stone unturned as well. By hiring the best tutors, taking leave from work to be at your service – to either take up your lessons or simply be the inspiring force to keep you motivated. You sacrifice much too, by going off social media, family functions and what not.

All this to have your papers corrected by a few bunch of people who at some point may get ‘tired’ or or listless and may evaluate the answer sheets while watching “Is Pyaar ko Kya Naam Doon”. When the results are announced, you may be the majority who is disappointed at the results. Wondering how to face the expectant and excited faces of your parents, relatives, neighbours and friends. The thought of the score may have you ‘feeling low’ or leave you with a ‘sinking feeling’ amidst the clamour of those who secured 96% and above compared to your >90%.

If you are > 90%, DO NOT GRIEVE. Do not allow your academic score to dictate your emotional well-being.

Here’s why.

  1. Your examination results do not decide your fate. Yes, education is important and that is a fact. However, there are millions of successful people despite being average or poor scorers in school. Einstein, Bill Gates, Branson, Dhirubhai Ambani. Success in life is about grit and determination. Not about your examination results.
  2. Your examination results do not determine your intelligence. And, that is a fact. Because the system has not allowed you to create but repeat what is the tried and tested response to a question. They do not define your abilities.
  3. Your examination results are an indicator of your passion. Glance through your marks and see in which subject did you score the best? Chances are, that would be the subject that holds your interest. Dig a bit deeper and you may discover a new path. If you maxed in psychology then perhaps coaching or human interaction is likely to be your purpose in life. Delve into career opportunities and education in that zone.
  4. Your examination results has happened and cannot be changed. However, you can change. Change the way you feel. Yes, if the results haven’t been great. The first step is to be in acceptance. “Ok, It seems I didn’t fare well. Now what? I have the choice to accept and look at what next? I passed. So, I need to focus on moving into the next level.”
    “I didn’t pass. No sweat, It’s an exam. Not the end of the world. Look around, failures are the stepping stones to success.” Speak to a friend or someone whose advice you value.
    Remember, IT’S JUST AN EXAM. You can always sit for it again. Keeping a clear head might lead you to better opportunities that you may not have considered.
  5. Your examination results are NOT your fault. You may find it easier to blame yourself for having missed the opportunity and wish for a different result. However, nothing is set in stone, it just is. And, you have the power to write your own victory story.

The education system’s qualifications measure you on how good you are at following instructions, blindly and say nothing about your own creativity or ideas. Doing poorly or failing an exam is perhaps one of the many hurdles you’ll have to surpass in your life, and there are always possibilities to learn and rise above failure.

Remember, who you are and be true true to that version of you – which is the REAL YOU.

To the parents:

  1. DO NOT STRESS THE KIDS WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Trade your expectations with appreciation. They need your full-fledged support and understanding. Appreciate them instead of comparing their scores.
  2. Mentor them and share stories of success. The world today is filled with stories of following one’s is passion is way more satisfying and fulfilling. No need to take any hurried decisions.
  3. Demonstrate your faith in them and, more importantly your love and respect for them and their effort. Encourage them to keep their head up. When one door closes, go open another.
  4. Reach out to those you can trust, a teacher or friend who can guide them on the next steps.

Education is an 18th century phenomenon created for jobs in the Industrialisation era. The world today is moving towards creativity and innovation, which unfortunately is not a part of the curriculum. There are more stories of ‘breaking the box’ thinking than ever before. You name a need and there’s a bunch of youngsters huddling in a room setting up a startup.

Success is determined by your will to succeed in doing what you love that can be of service to others.

It’s just a school exam. Not a LIFE EXAM. Remember, as a 8-9 months old when you struggled to stand? You fell way many more times than you stood and walked. And, hey, that didn’t stop you from getting up each time you fell down. Right?

So, pick yourself up and walk.

Life’s exams provide you way more opportunities to succeed.

Less than 90% could be the best thing that happened to you! Trust me, no one will ask you about it and neither will it matter, a few years down the line.

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