Dealing With Failure: Recovering from a Bad Grade

by Teodora Pasca
Jobs People Do |

We’ve all made mistakes in our academic careers. Whether it’s a test we just weren’t prepared for or an assignment that didn’t go as planned, a poor grade or two—or even a failure—is a normal part of being a student. That being said, it’s important to get into the right mindset when confronting your mistakes. In fact, this will actually allow you to do better in the future.

It may seem silly to say this, but if you do poorly, it’s not the end of the world. There will be other exams and projects; you have ample opportunity to improve. If there’s no longer a way to boost your mark in one course, maybe doing well in your other courses will make up for it. In any case, school is very important, but your grades shouldn’t define who you are. When you look back on your school days in the future, you’re likely going to think about the great things you learned and the memories you made—not that one test you bombed.

It’s only when you stop beating yourself up over your mistakes that you finally get an opportunity to learn from them. Stay positive, but consider why exactly you didn’t do well so that hopefully you improve next time. Did you not study properly for that exam and were caught unprepared? Did you leave that essay to the last minute? If you correct those mistakes early on, it’s unlikely you’re going to make them again. Treat each failure as a learning situation, and a positive opportunity for you to continue improving yourself.

Then there’s the possibility that you have no idea what went wrong. We all have flukes—assignments that were marked “mysteriously”, guidelines we didn’t understand, tests that we just dropped the ball on for some reason. Luckily, these types of situations don’t happen very often, so one bad grade isn’t going to set the tone for the rest of your academic record. However, if you notice a recurring pattern in being surprised by your low grades, consider looking at your work more critically or speak to your teacher or professor for clarification and advice.

Finally, it’s important to learn from failure, but you can also learn from what you did right. Chances are there are courses you’re doing much better in than others. Maybe you like the material more, so you work harder; maybe the course overall is easier to do well in. Considering these things, evaluate what you can take from one course in order to recover from a poor grade in another. If worst comes to worst and you’re really struggling, you always have options—drop the course, take an alternative credit, or look into peer tutoring or office hours.

The next time you’re faced with a bad grade, take some of this advice into consideration. By staying positive and learning from your past experiences, you’ll see an improvement not only in your grades, but in your attitude towards learning overall.