"Hey, What'd You Get on that Test?"

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Paige Hosbein A teacher hands a test back and crowds swarm around the mailboxes.   Everyone examines grades and looks around at others, curious to know how other classmates performed. Some will ask around and compare their scores to their peers’ , either boosting their confidence, or making themselves feel worse. It’s likely you’ve experienced this situation at least once in your time at Latin. Why is it that we feel compelled to exchange grades with others?  I gathered several opinions on the matter from Latin students.   Olivia Garber, a sophomore, stated, “I think people share test scores because it allows them to know if they are behind or doing well in the class compared to other students.” When students  do poorly on an assessment, knowing that someone else also did poorly can be a comfort; at least they weren’t an outlier.  On the other hand, if their classmate got a lower score, they feel self-assured and validated in their hard work. Conversely, Bella Flerlage thinks “that tests scores are shared to seem better than someone else… I think kids in today’s society find themselves comparing themselves to each other way too often and is something we all can work on!” As I discussed this topic with Ms. Dorer, Latin’s AP psychology teacher, she made the point that, in general, “we define ourselves in relation to others.” This habit may manifest in every aspect of our lives: in careers, in school, in sports and more. For instance, people compare their salaries, their appearances, their running times, their points scored in a game, and countless more attributes.   She also provided some psychological reasoning for this custom, dating all the way back to ancient times.  She said that part of human instincts are survival of the fittest and that competitiveness is inherent.  Before, humans would probably compare how many animals they hunted or who found the best shelter or how many berries they could gather for their family.  Comparing ourselves to one another stems from instincts we were born with generations ago.  Today, we compare ourselves in dramatically different ways, but it stems from wanting to be the best to survive. While comparison can provide inspiration and spark progress, it is also capable of depleting confidence, sending us into an endless cycle of self-doubt. In today’s world it is easier than ever to compare yourself to a perfectly edited picture on Instagram and other platforms that reflect perfectly polished lives, but the key is to keep an eye on your own goals and maintain intrinsic — not extrinsic — motivation, as Ms. Stevens and Ms. Lawrence would say. ]]>