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GRE Issue Essay: Competition For High Grades Seriously Limits The Quality Of Learning - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “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.”
I agree with the statement that competition for high grades significantly limits the quality of learning at all levels of education, because the grade is not an absolute measurement of a student’s ability, nor is the student with a higher grade necessarily smarter or more competent than the one with a lower grade, and it may lead to the situation where students do not study to acquire more knowledge; instead they learn to get higher grades.
First of all, I think the grade is not an absolute measurement of a student’s ability; even though it reflects some aspects of the knowledge a student has acquired, many other abilities are hard to measure with grades. Thus, competition for higher grades does not necessarily mean a competition for being more capable or competent. This can mislead students to compete with each other solely by demonstrating higher scores; instead, the essense of the competition is their abilities to solve problems.
Moreover, competition for higher grades can also lead to a phenomenon that for some students the goal of learning is getting higher grades rather than trying to learn more knowledge, or think critically. Consequently, this can result in some students become test-takers, who are very good at taking exams, but they may not necessarily know more than some students with lower grades. This contradicts the primary goal of education—schools teach students to make them understand more, and help them to be more prepared for their future professions. For instance, a student may have a perfect score on SAT or GRE, but may not be able to solve problems critically or independently. Will the potential employer hire this student just because he has impressive grades? No, because during work, people emphasize more the ability to solve problems.
On the other hand, competition for higher grades sometimes can motivate students to work harder. During the process of trying to get a higher score, they may spend more time on school works, and learn more after all. However, during the competition, this may make students only focus on grades rather than learning a broad range of knowledge. For instance, if SAT only test math and English, in order to get a better grade, students may spend more time on these subjects and less on other subjects they would not be tested on.
Overall, I agree with the statement that the competition for higher grades can limit the quality of learning at all levels, because this may make students stress to much on grades rather than learning itself.
I don't quite understand your first argument. Even if I'm willing to grant that grades only reflect "some aspects of the knowledge a student has acquired," which is a claim that you do not really explain or justify, I still don't understand why you think that fact "seriously limits the quality of learning at all levels of education." To respond to your comment below, when the instructions require you to explain how your considerations shape your position, that means, here, that you must explain why thinking that grades do not fully reflect competence entails thinking that learning is seriously compromised by competition for grades. In other words, you need to say something like "The fact that grades do not accurately reflect student competence means that competition for grades seriously impacts learning because ... ." What you put after the word "because" is up to you, but presumably it has, for you, something to do with what you say about "the essence of competition"; but what you are trying to communicate in that sentence is very unclear to me.
Essentially, you are being asked by these instructions to clarify every logical step of the thinking process that ends in the judgment that competition impacts the quality of learning. You are asked to focus on that instead of discussing tangential issues, such as whether a potential employer will hire students who have good grades but poor critical reasoning.
I am not sure there is a significant difference between your first argument and your second argument.
Your first argument is that students are encouraged to compete in the wrong way (where “compete in the wrong way” must mean something like “focus on developing the wrong abilities” - i.e., not "their abilities to solve problems."). Your second argument is that it leads students to focus on higher grades instead of critical thinking. Indeed, your final argument is that competition leads students to focus on grades instead of learning a broad range of knowledge. These are all variations of the same argument. There are probably a number of other issues that you can deal with, such as the possibly negative pedagogical value of emphasizing, through competition for high grades, the end product of learning as opposed to the process of learning. Or the possible negative value of the psychological pressure that competition places on students.