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How Important Are Your 12th Grade Marks for Your Future Career?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

By Vibha Kagzi, Founder,

As the months of February and March approach, high school students in their 10th and 12th grade begin to feel the heat of the mounting pressure of studies. The ISE and CBSE Board exams for grade 12 happen around February, and for the 10th grade, the Board exams take place in March-April. Naturally, school teachers, parents, and students gear up for the final lap of studies with multiple preliminary tests, revisions and doubt-solving sessions. Many students who also take up private coaching have an additional burden of studies, tests, and classes.

Why are Board Exams Important?
Many of you may have been told that 12th board exams are the deciding steps of your future career. They also form an important part of resume and act as an indicator of a student’s academic performance. If you plan to pursue higher studies abroad, many prestigious colleges and universities assign separate points to your marks in grade 10 and 12, and heavily rely on them while granting admission to the students. Students who are planning to apply for a scholarship program need to show exceptional performance in their Board exams, without which scholarships are difficult to win.

Not just for higher studies abroad, even if you seek to pursue a Masters in India or MBA in a top institute such as IIMs, your 12th board marks will weigh heavily on your admission decision. Placement decisions are also based on the marks you acquired during your 12th grade.

Your 12th grade marks are also important to help you identify your future career goals. If number crunching is your strong suit, you’d probably want to get into careers in accounting, finance, commerce, and other such. If you feel that you lean more towards computers, you may choose to follow a career in technology, computers, software programming, and the like. Some students prefer to pursue vocational training such as journalism, culinary arts, nursing, and many others.

What Happens If You Don’t Perform Well in the Board Exams?
Students appearing for their Board exams go through undue stress because they fear underperformance. They worry that they will let their school, teachers, and parents down by getting low grades. We have known of several cases of panic attacks, depression, and stress among students in 12th standard. They are constantly plagued with a question in my mind: “What if I don’t perform well in the Boards?”

So here it is. While it is important to do well in your Boards, it is by no means the end of the world. One exam cannot decide who you are and what you can be. If you have the aptitude to pick up skills, you can be find yourself a rewarding career in lucrative fields. You can choose to become an entrepreneur, or join your family business. Once you have a proven record of good working skills for a significant period of time, your board exam results will be a thing of the past.

If you choose to pursue higher studies abroad, you may face some roadblocks in explaining your poor performance in the Boards. But that can also be compensated with a good GMAT, GRE or SAT score (exceptionally good!), work experience for a couple of years, and extra-curricular activities that showcase you as an energetic, intelligent, and hardworking student.

Here’s Why Your Board Exam Scores Are Not Important
I would recommend every student appearing for their Boards this year read and reflect on these 5 important points.

Your marks don’t define who you are.
While it is true that a good score in your 12th grade will help you breeze into the college or career of your choice, you still have to prove yourself as a competent student or employee. I have personally known many students from top reputed schools unable to rise up to top ranking positions, but others from lesser known institutes zoom past them because they had the right skills and attitude. Finally, it boils down to your own ability to learn and grow. Hence your marks don’t define you. They are merely indicators of your potential, but indicators could be wrong too.

Sometimes you are just not that lucky.
Let’s not forget that luck plays a factor in your Board preparation. You may have been an ace student all your life, but just before the Boards you could feel unwell, or have a personal tragedy, or a situation that hurts your studies. How can your Board marks reflect your performance then?

If you are keen to get into a college asking for a high percentage, you may find it difficult. However, colleges that look for holistic personalities would tend to assess you on other parameters as well. You can shine in other aspects and make up for the lacuna in marks.

Keep calm. Meditate every now and then.
Anxiety is one of the biggest reasons for under performance. If you are feeling worried, over-stressed, or nervous, it is time to back-off. Spend some time meditating every day. Reflect on good, happy thoughts. Take a break from your studies to enjoy a movie, or play your favorite sport. It helps to unplug occasionally.

Don’t let others tell you who you are and what you should be.
Stay away from negative thoughts. Don’t let your parents, friends, neighbors, or unknown strangers dictate who you are. It is important to avoid people who push their opinion on you. It’s your life, and you are the only one responsible for what you do. Parents and teachers need to realize that every student is not the same. You can’t have unreasonable expectations from your child. Play the role of a guide, and help your child to achieve his or her goals without adding pressure.

Down the road, you’ll realize that it was no big deal.
You’ll be surprised how ridiculous this overhype will all seem 3 or 4 years down the road. You may wonder why you got so stressed in the first place. As you progress, your career will shape the way you want it to. With the right initiative, attitude, and effort, you can find the path to your dream career. Perhaps you may not become a doctor, if you did not get into a medical college. But maybe that was for the best. You can find satisfaction in other fields as well. At the end, it all narrows down to who you are as a person, and what you choose to be.

The writer is a study abroad and career advisory. Vibha holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors from Carnegie Mellon University.

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