How Much Do Your Exam Results *Really* Matter For Being Successful?

From our SATs (do they still do those?) to our finals at university, the precedence laid over exam results is almost too much to handle. One slip up could be, so we’re told, the difference between a life of riches and one dwelling in mediocrity.

“But that’s an unfair system that favours the academic over everyone else”, cries the lowly creative. “How much do your exam results actually matter?”

And it’s a good question. If you’ve graduated or just on the job market, you would have probably noticed how few employers specify what exam results would be preferable for their advertised position.

Does this mean you can bomb tests and still get a good job with experience alone? Maybe not. The discipline and retention skills you develop through exams is invaluable but it does raise a good point about the emphasis put on academics in interviews.

So many successful people failed in school and then went on to do amazing things. Alan Sugar, Simon Cowell, Richard Branson all either dropped out of school or failed. Unfortunately these are the few lucky ones that went on to become gazillionaires (don’t fact check that). You’ll probably have to find your success the normal way…

A poll back in 2014, as reported by the Independent, revealed that one in three employers admit “they never bother to check candidates’ degree qualifications”. So still the majority, right?

Well, the same poll also revealed that one in three interview candidates admit to falsifying information on their CVs.

We’ve landed in this strange period where the technology and infrastructure for applicant tracking, assessment centres and psychometric testing is as advance as ever but employers are careless enough to give sneaky graduates the benefit of the doubt. A great time to be someone with a lot of confidence and a terrible exam record.

So why can so many people get away with what is basically fraud? Well, Jayne Rowley, director of the Higher Education Degree Datacheck writes: “Many of us want to believe that people are telling the truth so we place our trust in references, applications and interviews. With a low perception of the frequency and risks of qualification fraud, it’s easy to become complacent”.

You don’t need to have a fake maths degree to see that the odds are against you if you’re forging or trifling with your exam results. So the answer to the original question is: ‘Yes, they matter. Otherwise so many people wouldn’t take the risk of lying about them’.