Recovering from a Bad Exam

The first round of exams has passed and some of you may even have already started studying for the second round of exams. Whether it was your first college exam or your hundredth, you probably have realized, school is hard. It can be difficult to find time to study between classes, activities, and social time and it can also be difficult to find the right resources to succeed in your classes. If your first exam didn’t go so well here are three things to remember as you continue your semester:

It’s Not The End of the World

You may have already heard this one from your friends or parents, but I thought I’d repeat it because it is important. Many students are so overwhelmed with shame by the result of one bad exam. What is so important to keep in mind is that this should not be a shameful experience, but an experience to grow and learn from. Having a mindset that you should be ashamed of this result will not help you. Instead, thinking of this result as something to learn from will help you to be better the next time. So go ask questions during office hours, find at tutor at the Learning Center, or ask someone to review your study plan with you. Grow from this experience and don’t let it keep you from finding resources for success.

It is still important

I know, I know I just said that this should not be a big deal, but hear me out. Getting a poor result on your first exam leads you to two options left for the rest of the semester: grow or give up. Recovering from a bad exam score can be difficult and a lot of students see this as a reason to throw in the towel for the whole semester. I’m here to tell you that this is not the way to go. It may be difficult, but it is important that you make an effort to recover post-exam because throwing in the towel after just the first exam sets you up for failure throughout the rest of the semester and could possibly affect your progress towards a degree.

It does not define you

If you are having trouble with seeing your self-worth after this exam, keep your chin up. This one exam does not define who you are as a person and how you will continue to perform. In the college world, so much of our identity and self-worth is tied to how you perform academically. This can be difficult when you are not performing at your best, but please remember that you are so much more than a test score. You are a human with valid emotions, fears, interests, and passions. Look to how you are performing in your relationships and activities and recognize that those are also important aspect of your life. Find comfort and worth in your friends and passions and lean on them to get through this tough time. 

You will make it through this if you seek out the correct support and keep a good mindset. Visit the resources and services in the Student Success Center ( where you can access tutoring services and the writing center along with other resources. Lastly, take a deep breath. You got this!