We investigated optimistic grade expectations among 258 college students from 2 contrasting perspectives: optimism as uninformed wishfulness and as an informed aspirational judgment. Results revealed considerable grade optimism; most students (70%) overestimated an average of 1 full grade. Grade expectations moderately predicted final grade but not course effort after adjusting for cumulative grade point average (GPA). Grade optimism and predictive accuracy differed as a function of GPA. For most students (upper two thirds on GPA), grade expectations accurately predicted performance, suggesting a mixture of self-knowledge and realistic aspirations, or informed optimism. For less accomplished students, grade optimism may be more uninformed wishfulness, the solution to which may be student skill improvement.
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