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5 Things to Do After Failing an Exam

Madalena Mourao

When we, students, fail an exam, we tend to think it’s the end of the world.I’m never going to graduate”, “I’ll never get a job”, and “I’d better start searching for a rich wife/husband”, are some of the common thoughts. Don’t despair just yet. Here is our advice on how to overcome the difficult situation of failing an exam:

1. Don’t Panic!

Panicking isn’t going to take you anywhere. Accept that failing an exam is something perfectly normal to happen during your academic life. There are two things you need to know: you’re not alone and you can get a better grade. This is just one more obstacle to overcome, one more story to tell, and an experience that will help you do better on the next exam.

2. Take the time to grieve

First official right of one who has failed an exam: the right to grieve!

 

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You have a great excuse to take a break and do something like a marathon of your favorite TV series, going out with your friends, drinking a wee bit more than usual, or forgetting about your diet and eating all the chocolate you deserve.

But don’t overdo it! One shall not grieve more than 24 hours: life goes on and you have to get back on the bandwagon.

3. Get things in perspective

After the grief period is over, it’s a good time to get everything in perspective. Just stop for a moment and reflect about what went wrong. Think about what you did and didn’t so during your study period, and ask yourself: “what could I have done differently?”

Maybe you’ve procrastinated so much that you didn’t cover every topic you should have; maybe you were afraid of asking for help to understand a particularly difficult issue. What’s important here is to get to the core of the problem and figure out what you’re going to do differently when you retake the exam.

4. Think about the future

To clear up this issue in your mind, start thinking about the future. Be strategic and figure out when you’re going to retake the class and/or the exam again. Look at your study plan and course work and decide what’s best — either retaking the exam now if you can (draw a plan of action now!) or only the following year.

5. Get help if you need it

Don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help. It’s a way of showing you want to understand something and don’t take pride in staying ignorant.

 

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Get a tutor, ask your friends to organise a study group, raise your hand in class when you’re confused, or simply ask your teacher for their time in private. We all need help sometimes!


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What do you do after you fail an exam? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.

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