How To Survive Cutthroat Academic Competition

As an Ivy League student, I’ve learned a lot about how to survive in an academically competitive environment.  I’m a very uncompetitive person, so dealing with some of my hyper-ambitious classmates sometimes took a toll on me. But I came out of first semester alive! Here’s the main thing to remember:


So don’t pay any attention to them.


Tip #1. Focus on yourself

Other people’s test grades don’t matter. Let me repeat. Other people’s test grades DO NOT matter. Stop trying to find out what other people got on a test. If they got a higher grade than you, you may end up feeling bad. If you got a higher grade, they may end up feeling bad. Sharing grades is usually a bad idea in general.


Tip #2. Isolate yourself on exam days

Try not to talk to other people in your class on the day of a big test. Their nervousness can end up making you nervous. If you keep to yourself, you’ll likely be in a better mood to take the test.


Tip #3. Follow the golden rule.

That is, treat others the way you want to be treated. Offer to help other people! That way, they’ll want to help you later on. If you wish your academic environment would be less competitive, then make a change by being kinder.


Tip #4. Stay grounded.

A lot of academic competition is created when people are too focused on grades. Remind yourself that there’s more to life than grades and school! Your happiness and overall mental health are a lot more important.


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  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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