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GRE Issue 45: Competition For High Grades - With A Free Essay Review
Competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
The statement claims that competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education. It is true that in some cases, competition for high grades can motivate students to learn more. However, competition for high grades is likely to undermine the true aim of education and let students only focus too much on grades. Also, those students with low grades can be expected to lose interest in learning, being diffident about their academic performance.
In some cases, competition for high grades might have some positive influence on students. After all, grades are an index which can properly reflect students’ academic performance. If some students get high grades, it possibly means that they have mastery of knowledge they are taught. Also, competition for high grades could sometimes encourage students to learn eagerly and improve effectiveness of their study. For instance, in order to get high grade, students are likely to improve their efficiency so as to utilize less time to learn more knowledge. Therefore, through competition, students will consciously force themselves to learn and study better, which may improve the quality of learning in some aspects.
However, in most cases, competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning largely because not only competition will put high pressure on students but also cause teachers as well as student pay much attention on academic performance. Chinese students are an excellent example of this point. From primary school to high school to university, Chinese students strive for high grades all the time, as for them, high grades mean everything, ranging from admission to prestigious colleges to a promising job. For the sake of getting high grades, they study from morning till night, cramming everything without deep thinking. Worse still, under heavy burden from their parents and teachers, some students suffer psychological disorder which makes them hardly pay attention to study. It goes without saying that these phenomena are at odds with true aim of education. Pursuing for high grades blindly is detrimental to students’ development.
In addition, learning means learning knowledge as well as values. Thus, competition for grades might make students think grades are more significant than values. However, in reality, this would be wrong. Take Forrest Gump for example. Despite his poor academic performance, he is regarded as a hero by numerous people simply because he has a positive attitude toward life even though the life is severely tough and he is kind to others when they are in trouble. Therefore, the genuine goal of education is to let students learn how to have an optimistic attitude and right values rather than only to focus on grades. So, competition for high grades limits the quality of learning at all levels of education.
In conclusion, in some cases, competition for high grades does have some favorable impacts on students’ learning because this competition can serve as stimulation. Nevertheless, in most cases, competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning since students may be depressed and pessimistic or they study just for the sake of high grades.
Your argument about the negative impact of competition for high grades depends on an example of students who “cram everything without deep thinking.” What you mean by deep thinking here is a bit vague, as is its implied relationship to “quality of learning.” It is also not clear why “cramming everything” or the absence of deep thinking is a necessary consequence of competition for high grades. You need to explain why you think that is the case. A description of what happens in China merely demonstrates what happens in China, and possibly is a function there, in China, of the nature of the examinations (which may reward cramming, but not deep thinking). It may be the case that competition for high grades necessarily encourages an approach to learning that is not ideal, but if you think that is the case, you need to explain why.
You suggest in your next paragraph that the genuine goal of education is the development of optimism and values, but it’s not really clear why you think this. The Forest Gump example doesn’t help much here. The example is not itself a reason that supports the claim (so your use of the word “therefore” is incorrect) and the film is not an obvious authority on the question of the purpose of education (and for what it’s worth, it presents a critical view of the way college athletes in the U.S. can earn degrees without having actually learned anything). I think the appropriate way to make the argument that you want to make here would be to begin with the claim that education ought to entail more than the accumulation of knowledge, that one ought to learn other things. And then explain why competition for high grades is incompatible with that goal.