#b Excellence is overrated, competence is underrated.
Competence is knowing what to do in a situation and how to do it. It is not the same as excellence.
Excellence is dependent on other people, like judges, examiners, teachers, assessors, inspectors, auditors. But we can't control these people and whether they think we're excellent or not.
Excellence by definition involves comparison. You have to be compared to someone else or an abstract standard in order to even be considered as excellent.
But comparison almost always degenerates into comparison fatigue. People whose job is to compare have to make decisions when they compare, and some insignificant or irrelevant detail almost always find its way towards sidelining you from being chosen as the most excellent.
Excellence is a lonely place. There's only one winner, top student, champion. Not everybody can be excellent. Achieving excellence (in whatever form) is a statistically high odd.
Competence doesn't depend on other people. It is judged on its own merit, mainly whether it gets the job done. Competent drivers get from A to B without killing themselves or others.
Competence is clearly defined. These are what you need to do to be competent in something. When you do them properly and without thinking about them too much (automatically), you are competent. No nebulous 'X-factor' or 'feel' or 'aura' involved.
Competence doesn't require comparison to other people or work. So it eliminates comparison fatigue.
The focus on exams mean we're too focused on excellence, a.k.a A grade. So we lose sight of competence (B and C grades). B and C grade mean the students know enough to get the job done.
Isn't that what we want? People who can get the job done? Of course the assumption being these B and C students just need more fine tuning so they can hone their competence. But we are effectively treating B and C grades as nonexistent in favor of A grade.
Even though grade A in exams almost always include to a certain extent (a) assessors' personal preferences creeping into their judgement (b) comparison fatigue and (c) some nebulous 'X Factor' like handwriting or race or region.

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