Academic excellence implies doing well in scholastic activities. It has been identified with having high grades/scores in any academic endeavour but the fact is that it goes beyond that. Good grades, on the other hand, means scoring way above average in an academic grading scale.
When a student gets a high score or performs excellently in a test or examination, whether spoken or written, he/she is said to have achieved academic excellence. This is quite true because the result of such test or exam testifies to how academically sound the student is.
However, academic excellence goes beyond having good grades and good grades per se do not connote academic excellence; this is the crux of the matter! The society today predicates academic excellence on good grades.
So, in a bid to be academically excellent, or be seen as such, students now try to achieve good grades by all means, more often than not, going the extra mile via negative routes like exam malpractices which has become so rampant. Very lamentably, this cuts across the different levels of education.
This epidemic that has eaten deep into the educational fabric of the society is even justified by those who are supposed to frown at it and man the door against its perpetrators. That is to say that, without a deus ex machine, the situation has got out of hand and there is no hope!
Today, the WAEC, NECO and JAMB exams are frosted with these wrong practices so much so that there is rarely a centre where they do not deal answers to students in exchange for fortunes. The few students who try to resist them usually have sad tales to tell. Some schools even incorporate the fee for exam malpractice into the authorized fee thereby making it mandatory. With these, education is almost beyond the reach of poor parents and guardians.
Note that this essay is not an indictment against having good grades. Rather, it is a pointer to the supposed norm that the end (good grades) does not justify the means (malpractice). It is in light of this that I say that academic excellence goes beyond having good grades.
Academic excellence is the maximum development of the intellectual capacities to produce excellent results. It requires hard work and deep reflection on the part of the student. So, in a nut shell, ‘good grades’ does not necessarily imply academic excellence but ‘good grades’ is one of the ways through which academic excellence shows depending on ‘how’ it is achieved.
While there are different literature and even conflicting views on academic excellence, it is unarguable that one who is academically excellent does not need malpractices to pass a test or an examination.
Note that if a student performs well and achieves good grades in the class room (without malpractice) but cannot apply the knowledge acquired outside, he/she is still not academically excellent. One must be competent and also be able to perform.