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Test Subject
Original Poster
#1 Old 12th Nov 2020 at 8:18 PM
Default Harder Grades mod - Do you use it?
I'm curious. This is a mod I keep adding in and taking out, because I really like the idea of it, but in execution found it very frustrating. I've tested it several times, actively trying my best to get my sim an A+, and even though they'd spend so much time on their assigned skill & homework, they'd still rarely get over a B, let alone an A+. I feel like the mod expects me to max a skill in order to get the highest grade, and I just find that ridiculous. I really dislike having children with maxed skills in general, it feels very unrealistic to me.

I was wondering if others use this mod, and if they know any tricks to getting an A+ with it? Does it always require getting max/near-max skills?
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Mad Poster
#2 Old 12th Nov 2020 at 8:33 PM
I've used it off and on. I find it works well when playing with born in game sims, an extended lifespan mod, or smartmilk and thinking caps. Not so well with premade or CAS made sims, normal lifespan, and without aspiration rewards.

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Scholar
#3 Old 12th Nov 2020 at 9:20 PM
No, I don't use any mod affecting kid and teen school grades. It's very easy in the game to have every child/teen get an A+, which is boring. I only have my Sims do homework as much as they want to, so the grades of my Sims are varied. I also use Phaenoh's summer/winter break mod which means my Sims are in school a lot less, giving them less opportunities to bring their grades up. If you don't use that already you may want to try it instead.
Top Secret Researcher
#4 Old 13th Nov 2020 at 3:27 AM Last edited by Phantomknight : 16th Nov 2020 at 1:28 AM.
I do use Harder Grades (2.0 to be specific) and I even use AncientHighway's mods for university so that's harder as well! I love the challenge it brings and that sims have to work for their grades now. I also have Homework Sometimes and Summer Vacation, so sims have even less opportunities to bring up their grades, what with less homework and less school time. The last time I played kids & teens in school extensively was in my Pleasantview a while back. I don't think Angela ever got an A+; she was stuck at A- when she went to Uni. I personally love that kids won't all have the same grades and that more effort is required to get to the very top, but that's me, I guess. It helps that the SimCity Scholar's Grant only requires an A-.

I will say, that it's probably a bit more difficult if you installed the mod 'in medias res'--any premade teen will have a harder time getting up their grades before they transition. And yeah, at that point, it is about mostly about skilling to get their grades up, simply because time is not on their side. I find that sim kids who have their whole kid and teen stages to work for the A have a much easier time because there's less pressure and more time to work on things. Also, things like mood and aspiration also affect grades so if you have more time, you'll notice those affects more.

To answer your question though, no you don't need to max a skill to get good grades, but it helps a ton, especially if you don't have time for mood and aspiration to boost grades. Personally, I find that getting from A or A- to an A+ is the most difficult without increasing skills. I have some tips, but again I'm using 2.0, so if you're using 1.0, ymmv a bit.

1. Make sure sims are in a good mood - This is true in a vanilla game too, and I think sometimes it gets overlooked. But yeah, if your sims are in a good mood, then there's an added chance for the grade to rise. In practice, this means a full motive bar = better mood. For my sims, the routine is to get ready in the morning, so achieving that good mood is a little easier. (If your sims get ready at night, you may not be realizing how the little bit of difference in mood affects things.) I try to make sure Fun and Social are high or nearly so before bedtime and in the morning everyone uses the toilet and showers before school, regardless of how full their bars are. And then they eat breakfast--leftovers helps with this in busier households. Energy and comfort should be full if sims have a good bed.

Now, I've been using Harder Grades for years but I must admit I also switched to Lord Darcy's mod that makes all beds have the same (high) energy and comfort. This is partly because of situations like this. Lots of times I want my poorer sims to have cheaper looking stuff, but then the time it takes for motives to get full is just too long for me. And then, of course, there's no reason to use those lower quality beds, either. As soon as they could afford it, my sims would upgrade to a better bed, and I'd use the same mid-quality ones in the meantime. Well, I got tired of using the same sets all the time (everyone had the Malm or Hemnes, ), so I modded this out. Now my sims can get a good night's sleep regardless of the way I want to decorate their rooms and they don't face mood penalties. I don't really think the penalty is fair anyway, since I don't think bad mattresses are as crippling irl, but I know some simmers like the challenge of varying bed qualities. Just wanted to mention it in case it's a factor for you.

2. Make sure sims have a high aspiration - Very similar to mood, aspiration score does have an effect on school performance. (Job performance, too, actually, but that's another story). The mod adds chances for a grade boost if sims have gold or platinum aspiration. This is why born-in-game sims, or sims who spend more time in school have an easier time. If your sims are always in a good mood and have relatively high aspiration, they'll get top grades eventually, with just a few skills. Without high skills, it just takes a bit more time and luck. It's hard to remember what maintaining kids & teens' aspirations was like before FT, but if you do have FT, this is where those FT want chains come in handy. You can boost aspiration with small hobby wants (or use them to reroll) and for sim kids, I always save their 'Make a Friend' and 'Be BFF' wants. The BFF wants are especially nice because they're a guaranteed boost to the meter and if you time things right, it can be easy to get kids to stay in gold or platinum aspiration.

3. Make sure sims do their homework - Not doing homework can keep sims from improving their grades. I have had a sim or two improve grades despite missing a day's homework, but it's rare. If you have mods like I do that reduce the chances of homework--like Homework Sometimes or Summer Vacation, etc.--or mods that destroy incomplete homework when kids go to school, you may want to consider removing them until you get the hang of Harder Grades. Doing homework everyday will help sims improve their grades. Some simmers have trouble with this; I can't say the same. But in case that's you, my approach is that when kids and teens come home from school, they get their Fun bars up first. Usually they do an activity that increases Fun and raises a skill, but sometimes it's just a social activity. Once their Fun is sufficient, they do homework, and then they go back to doing another Fun activity before dinner and bed. For simmers that really struggle with this, I'll remind everyone that Red Hands and kicking a Flamingo are some of the fastest and cheapest ways to fill a Fun bar. But there are plenty of ways for sims to build Fun and a skill at the same time, too.

4. Make sure sims skill (in the right areas) - This one you already know; higher skills = higher chance of a grade boost. Here's info from the mod page (bold emphasis mine):



So, if you have Version 2.0, make sure you are building the right skills if you aren't seeing results. If you have Version 1.0, you may want to consider switching to 2.0, as it seems more likely sims can reach an A+ without having maxed skills--at least, that's how I'm interpreting the faqs. And in my experience, a sim with 5-6 points in their base skill should get an A eventually. Though they might need more points than that to get to A+.

On the MATY thread Whiterider added the additional info about which interest correlates to which skill, since it wasn't posted anywhere. Here's a more complete chart for Version 2.0, in case you need:
Build Logic => Knowledge sims; Sims with Paranormal, Work, School, and Sci-fi interest.
Build Body => Romance sims; Sims with Crime, Health, Sports, and Travel interest.
Build Creativity => Fortune sims; Sims with Money, Culture, Food, Fashion, and Toys interest.
Build Charisma => Popularity sims; Sims with Politics, Environment, Entertainment, Weather, and Animal interest.

Hope that helps!

"May the sunlight find you, thy days be long, thy winters kind, thy roots be strong." -Grand Oak Tree, DAO

XPTL Mod Archive | Change a Mod's Mesh into a CC Object | Increasing the Game Difficulty | Editing ACR 4 Your Age Mod
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retired moderator
#5 Old 13th Nov 2020 at 4:09 AM
I use a combination of things.
I use Harder Grades 2.0.
I use a mod for uni that means lower grades for sims not doing term papers along with want based play.
Longer ageing for certain age spans shorter for others. Toddlers are 8 days and kids 14 while Teen and young adult are 10 days each.
Skilling and intelligence based on motivation levels.
Items that are either toys or autonomous to encourage skilling.
I also run playable schools where the goal is aimed more towards skills and badges.
Simblender skilling limits
badge scholarships
I use a mod called homework sometimes to give my public school kids a break as well as summer holidays.

This gives me a fair amount of variety. A low motivated toddler won't ever learn more than 1 skill in each point and as a child learn more than 3 and as a teen 6. It's still possible they could make an A or go to college on the badge and other scholarships but unlikely.

"I dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives." - Unknown
~Call me Jo~
Test Subject
Original Poster
#6 Old 13th Nov 2020 at 10:52 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantomknight
-snip-


Wow, thank you for such a detailed reply! Yes, I was using the 2.0 version. It looks to me like I might've neglected the mood portion in my testing too much. It seems to be really important. I didn't necessarily let them be in a bad mood when going to school, but I didn't really make an effort to get all their needs to full & plat aspiration. I spent most of their time on skilling and homework, and because I was using a slower skilling hack as well the skills didn't really skyrocket either. Next time I'll definitely take the mood into consideration way more.

I have a question about how it handles children's chosen skill vs teen- if you have a child, their chosen skill is determined by their first highest interest, but once you choose an aspiration when they grow into a teen, then their chosen skill changes depending on the aspiration? How does that affect their grade, if at all?
Top Secret Researcher
#7 Old 16th Nov 2020 at 1:23 AM Last edited by Phantomknight : 16th Nov 2020 at 1:34 AM.
@CosmicEcho, sorry it took so long to get back to you. Yes, for kids, focus on their interests first. (There's a post by Syberspunk about that here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by syberspunk
For those that don't have the typical teen/adult aspirations, the mod will look set the 'base' skill according to their interests. So... for children, Family, Pleasure, and Grilled Cheese, you could manipulate the base skill by changing their interests. Unfortunately, this is sort of blind to the user. But I tried to group interests in such a way that the skill that would be based on them seemed logical i.e. the more scientific interests would lead to a base skill in logic, whereas the more creative ones would have creativity, etc.

Though tbh, I usually don't worry so much about which skills kids learn unless I notice that their grades aren't improving at all. And when they transition to teens--I haven't noticed any big changes. Like, no one suddenly comes home with a D or C because their new aspiration requires they build different skills, for example. No, instead what I notice is that sims maintain their grade when they grow up, but in order to improve, they need to focus on their base skill.

ETA: I forgot to mention that I use a slower skilling mod, too! In my modern hoods, I use Lientebollemeis' 2 hour one. So my sims don't skill as quickly as normal, but it doesn't take forever, either. I find that if you focus on mood and aspiration, most sims should have decent grades. Everyone won't have an A+, but they'll do fine for the most part. Remember that sim kids start at a C. (Only a few premade teens start lower than that). So unless something drastic happens--kids don't do homework or go to school in a poor mood all the time, they should be able to improve their grades somewhat.

"May the sunlight find you, thy days be long, thy winters kind, thy roots be strong." -Grand Oak Tree, DAO

XPTL Mod Archive | Change a Mod's Mesh into a CC Object | Increasing the Game Difficulty | Editing ACR 4 Your Age Mod
Bored? Read an unfinished legacy or sim story. | aka Kelyns | she/her
Lab Assistant
#8 Old 16th Nov 2020 at 2:24 AM
I've tried harder grades, and the ones for uni, and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong because everyone still seems to get straight A+'s and 4.0s. I also use a slower skilling mod so I don't know what's causing it. I've kept it in but pretty much decided it doesn't do anything. Maybe one day it will finally kick in.
Top Secret Researcher
#9 Old 16th Nov 2020 at 5:44 AM
@pinkdynamite, try combining it with want-based play. That's a little harder to do for kids & teens, since you won't know if they roll wants to do homework until the next morning/after they wake up. But it can be doable. For Uni though, it's much easier to combine want-based play with the mods. I use AncientHighway's term paper required mod, and the one that makes going to class worth less points. Those coupled with personal rules stating that sims can only do coursework if they roll wants for it makes Uni very challenging. If I'm lucky someone will roll a want to get on the Dean's List--then I'm good and can let make my sim gain all the skills they need and do their term paper. Usually Knowledge sims, and sometimes Fortune sims, will roll school wants enough to keep their grades up. But Family, Romance, Popularity, and those lazy Pleasure sims? It's a toss up! I never know if those sims are suddenly going to care about school or not.

I've stopped my sim teens from focusing on getting skill scholarships, too, so I've had a few nail-biting scenarios in Uni, where I need sims to roll wants to skill, in order to unlock their grade bar. And then I need them to want to do their coursework! Being in a dorm really helps because they might autonomously join someone for research. But otherwise, my more social sims have some close calls and definitely less sims get perfect 4.0s. I also have special rules for the Academie. I see LFT and SSU as state schools where everyone can get in--at least for now (I'm toying with a system that will make certain majors only available at certain campuses). But anyway, the Academie I see as a prestigious Ivy League school; so while my standards to go to La Fiesta and Sim State are fairly relaxed/normal, the requirements to get into and stay at the Academie are tougher. Those rules combined with want-based rules means that sims who don't keep up their grades at the Academie have to leave and go to a state school. (And the tuition I make them pay is non-refundable, too. ) And then those who are truly struggling get put on probation like normal, and of course if they are on probation two semesters in a row, they flunk out.

So if you're not finding things challenging enough, you could change your mods (I believe Syberspunk has a harder version than 2.0), but you also might need to switch up your playstyle. If you're a simmer that focuses a lot on earning skilling scholarships, than yeah, school and Uni are still going to be a breeze. You might want to relax skilling a bit, or limiting how many points they can get at certain stages. I know other simmers also limit where sims can earn points--they can only skill on community lots for example. So if a sim wants to learn cooking they got to go to the library or "find a class" or practice at home. And if they want to earn creativity points, they go to the town rec center and use the hobby room. Etc. Restrictions like that can go a long way.

Personally, I really disliked how boring life got once my sims came home from Uni. If they weren't already permaplat just from the LTA bar, they soon were from topping a career. Careers were also ridiculously easy for everyone, because many were over skilled. I had no more milestones for my sims to reach. So I sat down thought about how to fix this and introduce more challenging play. Some of that meant mods, yes, but also a lot of it meant changing up my playstyle and coming up with new challenges for myself. Perhaps you need to do the same? Think about why everything is so easy and what you can do to make things different and more challenging. Maybe only sims interested in school should do their homework without rolling wants for it. Maybe you introduce some motivation rules--mine is that only highly motivated sims can teach others to do homework. That means in families like the Brokes no one learns to study and doing homework takes a while--making it harder for teens like Dustin to keep up with work and school. Or maybe no one gets homework and sims only do coursework when you play the school lot. Or maybe only highly motivated sims can buy skilling items, or sims must have a want to buy them. Etc, etc. Lots of possibilities, depending on what you want to limit and make challenging.

"May the sunlight find you, thy days be long, thy winters kind, thy roots be strong." -Grand Oak Tree, DAO

XPTL Mod Archive | Change a Mod's Mesh into a CC Object | Increasing the Game Difficulty | Editing ACR 4 Your Age Mod
Bored? Read an unfinished legacy or sim story. | aka Kelyns | she/her
Lab Assistant
#10 Old 20th Nov 2020 at 5:14 PM
@Phantomknight This is all very helpful, thank you! I've actually been working on developing a new playstyle and had thought about making it want-based. I tend to focus a lot on skilling (I want my sims to succeed in life!) but it does get boring when they're permaplat while they're a teen and max out a career after being home from uni for one day. I actually stopped playing for a long time because I didn't enjoy it anymore so I think want-based would make my game a lot more fun.
Scholar
#11 Old 26th Nov 2020 at 11:44 PM
I use Harder Grades 2.0 myself, and yes, it's pretty tough to get that coveted A+ grade, but it's harder still if you're also using Harder Homework, which takes the sim's personality and aspiration into account. I do however use the Auto Do Homework mod, which kicks in at 7pm every sim day.

With this lot combined, I'll focus on whether the sim kid/teen asks for help (kids usually roll this want, which helps boost their aspiration), and also if they actively roll the want to do their homework. If either one of these is active when the wants reroll after getting off the school bus, then I'm likely to push that on them myself. If not, the action will be pushed on them later. If they end up with unfinished homework(s) on Friday night, they get a chance to catch up over the weekend.

I do try to get children the Learned to Study memory, as it does help down the line, especially if they end up Romance or Pleasure sims, but I find that sometimes I cannot get it to pop. I thought it was a lot-based problem, but recently I had one child learn without a hitch, yet her twin brother failed to get it. Now I don't know what's going on!

However, whichever way things go, it's the Harder Homework that usually makes the difference. Without learning to study, an extremely playful sim with NO logic points rarely finishes their homework before their fun/hunger/energy meter drains to the point that they stop (delete as applicable). It made it so that I have to have a No Social Worker mod in otherwise a failing grade is impossible to deal with (D's are bad enough, and the constant pop-ups saying about it drove me bonkers, but a child with an F just got nabbed practically immediately), but it certainly makes the grades more varied in children, and much more important to teens, whether they want a job before they age up or go to Uni.

Wants-based play coupled with certain mods is the way I find works best for me. A studious child/teen is likely to get A- as a minimum, and a slacker who'd rather jump on the settee or play with the bathtub is going to struggle to maintain a C. I have had numerous Uni drop-outs/expulsions, which has knock-on consequences. In my game, Tiffany Sampson has had the door to her dream of a Medical career slammed shut forever. I only use mods to help out those pre-made adults who don't have that chance (such as Cassandra Goth).

No need to use my full name, "Selly" will do just fine.

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Field Researcher
#12 Old 27th Nov 2020 at 3:44 PM
I don't use harder grades, simply because if my sims are going to do their homework, I just like to get it out of the way. Sort of like real life, I suppose.

Recently, and by that I mean August when I began playing Pleasantview for the first time in years, I adapted a sort of loosely wants based style. Originally, I did have the rule of 'nobody does their homework unless they role the want to do so,' however I noticed that without noticing, almost instinctively, I'd always direct my sims to do their homework regardless of wants.

I've not long downloaded a mod to decrease the amount of time it takes for sims to do their homework, because I just want it out of the way. It also allows me to create storylines involving conflict with parents, rebellion and the like, with me not having to suffer through many in-game hours waiting for sims to do their homework, before I get to the fun stuff.

In short, I may experiment with this mod in future, but not right now.

I've noticed that I've been rambling, so I'll stop, but yeah... different play styles, I guess.

When a game is predictable, it's boring.
That goes for any medium that isn't life.
That's why The Sims 2 is my favourite sims game.
It has elements of unpredictability and everything feels more involved.
The Sims 4 is another story altogether...
Theorist
#13 Old 27th Nov 2020 at 6:09 PM
I think I use Harder grades 2.0 along with homework sometimes and harder grades. I've made school hours longer to match my playable school (9-17).
Teens don't get jobs except the one delivering the newspapers.
I still got sims taken by social services because of bad grades. Said sims are dealt with at the Orphanage (happened to my family household) or by relatives.

Students can improve their grades and work on some skills at the playable school. I try to play there at least once per round.

My play style is not goal oriented but I try to take some wants into consideration.
Homework is done when sims rolled the want. A gold or platinum aspiration is required for teens who barely have those wants.

I recently add an uni to my custom hood. Since education is free, teens must have at least a C and a few skills or three scholarships to qualify.
Scholar
#14 Old 27th Nov 2020 at 6:34 PM
I haven't got anything like that in my game though I've got a skill limiter for Simblender added so I can limit skills for some sims and a no social workers hack so I can't ever have any baby,toddler or child taken away by any social workers for any reason other than they've been given up for adoption by the parents.There's no chilren in Dodge yet and the first ones will be working as child labor with no school in town except that parents with maxed logic might be able to homeschool a child with the flexi school.School is to be added as the town gets bigger and that will eventually include older kids though school won't become mandatory until about the 1950's which will be more than a century later in my town as it's only 1841 now.High School isn't going to happen for some time yet and it won't be too easy to get in and one day there will be two campuses with one being private and the other is public and free to attend.
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