You didn’t study enough for a test, or you slacked off a little this semester. Now you’ve received a bad grade. Your heart sinks a little, your skin turns pale, and your mouth goes dry. You don’t know who to blame—yourself? You may even shed a tear or two. Getting a bad grade from time to time is a common part of high school, but it can (understandably) be especially stressful for seniors with what we have at stake. Dealing with bad grades can definitely be a whole grieving process that is necessary but oddly insightful in the long run.
The most important aspect is getting past the disappointment of a bad grade and planning your next move. Believe me when I say that I have had my fair share of bad marks over the years; so I speak from experience when I say that moving forward is necessary to do better in future. Whether it’s finding the right strategy, improving your time management and productivity levels, or just planning ahead, the following tips may come in handy for you when dealing with bad grades.
1. Give yourself time to process
People often tell you to dismiss bad grades and try harder next time. They say there is no use in dwelling on the past or letting your mind to wander over mistakes. But as a student, I feel that sometimes allowing yourself to wallow in that grief and despondence can sometimes help you gain the perspective you need to face the next challenge. Channel your emotions in the best way possible for you. After all, time does miracles in healing! Give yourself extra time so you can think about what happened. You deserve a little time to yourself to vent your frustrations when you’re upset, especially if you know you worked hard to get a good grade but were been unsuccessful in the process.
2. Calculate and evaluate
Once you receive your grade, you should think over your performance in that particular subject for the past few exams. Try estimating and analyzing the impact the bad grade could potentially have on aspects like your college admission, predicted marks, or semester grades. Some exams and formative assessments may have proportionally less weight than others. Once you figure this out, you may become more hopeful for your next try! Think about the minimum amount you would need to cover up the grade in the future. This way, you’ll be reassured about your future performance in the subject and get the incentive and optimism to work harder and put your best foot forward. (Just make sure you don’t waste too much time thinking about it or become obsessive.)
3. Keep calm and carry on
This is one of the most crucial stages while dealing with bad grades. After you’re done thinking and calculating everything in your head, it’s time to take a deep breath and move ahead. Forgive and forget so you don’t let that one bad grade have power over you. Your response to it will impact your performance next time. The only way to successfully get over the problem is to move ahead and not constantly keep looking back. Ensure that you don’t stress or beat yourself up too much!
4. Identify your weaknesses
After an exam, it is essential to discern and understand your mistakes so that you know exactly what your gaps are. In my case, I often make mistakes and heavily lose marks when it comes to presenting answers in writing with clarity and brevity rather than content and conceptual knowledge. Sit down with a teacher, tutor, classmate, friend, or parent and ask them for advice. I’ve spent long evenings with my mom especially, confiding in her about how I feel about my academic performance. I also ensure that I speak with my teachers after receiving my marks so that I am fully aware of where exactly I have gone wrong and the best tactics I need to employ in the future to improve.
5. Work on your gaps
After identifying those potential weaknesses, spend time working on how you could remedy them in future using specific strategies that would best address your problems. Your strategies must be targeted specifically toward your needs. For example, if you ran out of time during a test, practice exam-smart strategies like writing essay questions in a timed and simulated environment. Be sure to practice every day so you perfect your gaps! Even though you may not be rewarded now, you will surely reap the benefits in the future.
6. Tackle it the next time
After you’ve worked on the subject, ensure that you keep your cool and maintain a calm mind the next time you take an exam. Be confident about your efforts, but at the same time, remember to not overestimate the complexity of the exam and subject matter. Before you attempt each question, collect your thoughts and try not to get too impulsive when you begin. Half the time a bad test grade is often due to test anxiety and not competency at all—so don’t let the stress overwhelm you. You know this. You got this. You can get that great grade.