How to Recover from a Bad Grade

So, it happened. We’ve all walked out of tests saying, “That was so hard, I probably failed!” but you never actually have… until now. You got a big, fat F on your exam, and now you’re freaking out about how it’s going to affect your GPA. How on Earth can you recover from a bad grade?

Bad Grade

First and foremost, take a deep breath! The good news is that if you’re panicked, that probably means you don’t receive bad grades too often. If you care greatly about your academic performance, you’re already on track for success. This isn’t the end of the world, simply a minor setback. Everyone (and I mean everyone) fails something at some point. Chin up, and proceed with these recovery tactics.

Bad Grade

Ask to speak to your teacher one-on-one.

This is useful for several reasons. First, your teacher will see that you are a hardworking and dedicated student, and don’t take your poor marks lightly. Second, you can ask for personalized feedback about what went wrong. Third, you may be able to get the inside scoop about extra credit opportunities or ways to prepare for the next big test or assignment.

Once, I received a really low grade on a chemistry quiz. In typical perfectionist style, I was devastated. I approached my teacher to ask for her advice, and she shook her head and told me that I needed to stop overthinking things. She said that if I *focused* on the practice quizzes at the end of the chapter and left my studying at that, I should be fine. Needless to say, I knew how to study smarter – not harder – after that conversation, and never failed a quiz again. Talk to your teacher and see if they can offer you any help! 

Bad Grade

Use it as a learning experience.

I know, that’s cliché and unhelpful advice. But seriously, think about how you prepared for the test or how you completed the homework. Did you cram in one night? Did you study with friends? Did you focus on class notes instead of the textbook information, or vice versa? Sometimes, it takes a bad grade to teach you how to study or prepare for a certain class. Every teacher has different grading requirements, and sometimes a big, fat F is just a rough way of steering you in the right direction.

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 Don’t lose motivation for the subject or course.

This is something that I struggled with personally. If I felt like I was working hard and yet it wasn’t paying off in grades, it was tempting to just shrug and assume I was a failure at the subject or the teacher hated me. Don’t think like this! Sometimes the classes that you work hardest in, even the ones you don’t ace, end up teaching you the most. I shudder when I think back on some particularly tough classes, but I promise all of the excruciating papers and terrifying tests made me a stronger and smarter student.

A wise, wise friend once told me, “Let your haters be your motivators.” This one bad grade or bombed test is a hater, and use it your advantage. Move on, learn from it, and stay motivated to never see that kind of grade again.

Bad Grade 


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