3 reasons why students get poor grades in school

Academic stress is a huge part of children’s school-going experience. This includes the pressure to perform well in school, pressure to fit in, peer-pressure, and parental expectations. Typically, school grades are the measurement criterion of academic performance. Therefore, getting good grades in school looms large as an ultimate objective for students – both explicitly and implicitly.

I do not believe that grades are an adequate or appropriate measure of a child’s academic and cognitive abilities. However, they are a reality of every student’s educational journey. For the lack of a better yardstick, school exams and subsequent grades obtained are significant milestones for a student. So, grades are a source of great anxiety for students as well as parents.

This article is an attempt to dissect some reasons why students get poor grades in school.

Reason #1: A genuine difficulty with understanding the subject

The student finds the subject difficult to understand. The concepts are not clear in their mind. They study for the sake of it, resulting in poor grades in exams. There are myriad causes for this difficulty, and they differ from student to student.

The way to address this situation is to delve individually into each student’s specific challenges. Do they need more time? Do they need a different teaching method? Once the challenge is identified, a specific solution needs to be found. Using this process consistently for the difficult subject will help the student overcome the challenges.

Reason #2: Lack of adequate preparation

The student understands the subject well but doesn’t prepare enough for the exam. They might get overconfident. They might leave everything to the last minute.

This can be addressed by instilling a sense of discipline. Study time should be deliberately planned and executed regularly over the entire year. Developing constructive study habits and following them diligently is a must.

Reason #3: Exam anxiety

The student understands the subject and has prepared well but freezes once the question paper is in front of them. They recite the correct answers to all questions once they are out of the exam hall. Yet they haven’t written these in the answer paper.

To address this, prior practice comes in handy. After study is complete, they need to practise writing answers to question papers in the exam format. Breathing exercises and other calming techniques also help in putting the mind at ease.

Closing notes

These are not the only reasons; only some of them. If these are addressed properly, most of the problem can be solved. The important point is to educate students to treat exams and grades as a part of their overall learning experience. Most parents and grown ups treat them as the only important part of children’s education. Creating awareness of the role grades play in their life and educating them to manage their grades will go a long way in reducing children’s academic stress.

For more insights, please read this article on grades and this one on stress. More information could be found in these articles – one, two, and three.


If you are looking for a learning experience that combines rigour and fun, walk in to NumberNagar®. You will find a solution tailored to your child’s learning needs.

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Dr. Soumya Sreehari

Co-Founder and Specialist at NumberNagar®
Dr. Soumya is an Educator and Researcher with a passion for reading, writing and teaching. She holds a PhD in Chemistry (Michigan Technological University, Houghton, USA). Her experience as a student and a teacher in two countries led her to pursue a career in Education. Her core work at NumberNagar® involves quality delivery of product and services at every stage of the customer life cycle. She leads the team that makes this happen. Previously she has taught Chemistry to first year undergraduate students at Michigan Technological University. She is a voracious reader and challenges herself to read 50 books every year.

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