Bad Test Grade, Now what?

If you’re like me, the second you see that bad grade, you probably felt your heart drop into your stomach and digest until it soured your entire body.


Next you forget to breathe and the sourness gets stronger and the shock turns into any one or combination of the stages of grief. Let it happen. Cry your tears, vent your frustrations with your classmates, and pick yourself back up.

1. You’re smart. Do not think that just because you didn’t do well on a test that you’re a bad student or that you’re not up to the challenge of the class. Albert Einstein once said “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live out its whole life believing that its stupid”.

2. Attitude is everything. Staying discouraged, depressed, and angry won’t make it better for you in the future.

3. Review your test with your professor. Take this as opportunity to ask for opinions on the content you should focus on more, the rationales behind the answers, as well as test strategies. Remember, if your professor does their job right, they won’t make you feel stupid. Their goal is to help you learn.

4. Review your study habits. How did you study for this test? Were there a lot of distractions? Do you study better alone? Did you get enough sleep? Did you cram? What other resources could you use? Worked more hours? Did your mind wander off during lecture?

5. Get support. It’s okay to feel like you need help. Friends, classmates, co-workers and tutors are all great resources. This would also be the perfect opportunity to organize a study group if you can; however, if you are too busy with other obligations you can organize an online study group via Blackboard.

6. Manage your time and priorities. Discipline and motivate yourself to keep a study schedule in your planner and to stick to it. Look at your calendar and decide which engagements can be skipped and which ones can’t.

7. Keep your focus. This is your grade and it will reflect how much effort you put into it. Eliminate your distractions during lecture i.e. phone, social media, and anything other than your school work. Engaging in class discussions may answer some questions and reinforce the content.

8. Don’t plan to cheat. Don’t even think about it. It’s illegal and results in expulsion from your school and the school you wanted to transfer to. Think of it this way, would you let a surgeon operate on you or your loved ones if they cheated their way through med-school?

9. Believe in yourself. You can have hundreds of people supporting you but it won’t mean anything unless you support yourself. As corny as it sounds, the only one who can make a good test grade happen is you. Saying a small phrase like “I got this” is a simple way to give you confidence.

I hope this helps anyone struggling with their classes this semester and the ones to follow.


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2 Responses to Bad Test Grade, Now what?

  1. Paige says:

    Well said! I love this post! I especially love the comment about not cheating. I would not have thought about including advice about cheating but I can see in desperation what a temptation it could be. It’s just not worth it. Getting a good grade by cheating can destroy your self esteem faster than getting a bad grade without cheating. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Great advice, Cat.

  2. ejy says:

    awesome tips! i honestly would never have thought to review exams with the professor. it’s also important to tell yourself that you aren’t defined by your grades.

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