How To Recover from Failing your Semester Exam

Failing an exam isn’t the end of the world. With the right mindset, you can learn from your bad grade and succeed.


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Getting a bad grade can be frustrating, but you have to push through.

This week, everyone will be taking semester exams for core classes. In preparation for our exams, we are supposed to devote countless hours of our time to hitting the books and remembering all of the material from the past four months. (How exciting! There isn’t any other way I’d rather spend my free time!) This doesn’t always work out, and when getting back our scores, the truth is that some of us fail. (Well, more than some of us, to be honest.) Though failure isn’t necessarily a good thing, you can learn and move on from it. Here are a few ways to recover after failing your semester exam.


Don’t dwell on it. There are a few things you can do after getting back your bad score.   You can be sad and upset, throw a fit and lock yourself in your room for the next few days. You can drop out of school and never look at another assignment, quiz, or test ever again. Or, you can move on. Though you might feel terrible, don’t sit around and stress out about it for a long time. Bad grades happen to everyone. You have to take accountability for your grade. You aren’t the first person to fail an exam, and you definitely won’t be the last. You must let it go and move forward; wallowing in your score does nothing for you in the future.


Meet with your teacher to understand what you did wrong. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you should give up. Talking to your teacher to understand what you did wrong — even though you believe that every answer that you put down is ‘correct in its own way’ — is essential to recovering from your bad score. (And no, arguing with your teacher about each question you got wrong isn’t going to change your grade. Trust me, I’ve tried.) When having a conversation with your teacher about what you did wrong, you learn where you made the mistakes that got you to this point. Don’t be embarrassed to ask what you did wrong — believe me, you aren’t the first person to ask why you failed. From there, you can use your errors to improve for the future.


Take some time to relax. Getting a bad grade is stressful, and throughout all the emotions that you are feeling, it is important to take a moment to breathe and gather yourself before you move on. Take a moment to relax and feel better. Maybe watch a movie, read a book, just do something that you enjoy. This moment of relaxation puts you in a better mindset, and allows you to realize that you are not your grades. This isn’t an excuse to binge all 10 seasons of ‘Friends’ though. 


Make a game plan for the rest of the school year. Though you failed your exam, it’s in the past now. After you graduate, no one is going to remember that bad score, or the time you cried to your algebra teacher, begging them to bump your 68 to an 87. (They didn’t.) The only way to recover from it is by moving towards the future. Make a plan for the remainder of the school year. Set goals to do well on your all of your upcoming assignments. Now that you know what went wrong, what can you do to improve? How can you make sure that this doesn’t happen again? Own it, then focus on the future, because this grade is not the end of the world. You will have another opportunity to succeed.