Exam Failure how to Cope

Receiving negative exam results is far from easy. In that one exam one’s ability to learn necessary material and information is challenged. When the results are negative it is not viewed by most as a simple result but as a reflection of the individual. Thus, it is comprehensible how the student may be not only disappointed but more so discouraged. Therefore, how does one cope with bad exam results?

It’s an exam, so what?

Seriously is it the end of the world? Does this exam prove that nothing has been learnt, nothing gained? Yes, you did badly but it is not the image of one’s knowledge in general. It was simply a paper full of questions or problems which you either could not understand fully because of great stress, because the particular points in question were not grasped properly or because you had not planned proper revision.

There will be other exams to prove yourself. More significantly though, it does not depict your overall comprehension of the subject. But even if it does, so what? Even if that is the case, its purpose is to steer you in another direction; one you are meant for. Think about it.

Every failure is the point of a next success

The reason of failure is dependent on the individual. It may be that this subject is your weak point. You are just not able to grasp it for a reason. Find out what it is with the help of your teacher or university counselor and move on. If it is something that cannot be remedied then focus on what can be learnt and are able to do.

For instance, math was always this writer’s weakness. While at the University of Houston, the counselor assigned a tutor. At the time the major of study was becoming a computer analyst. Naturally, exam failures pointed towards a different course and that was the course later sought. The failing marks, hardship and disappointment were for a reason. Obstacles are usually there to guide to a better route in the course of one’s life.

Exam failure, however, is not a reflection only on the student. It may a reflection of the teacher or professor as well. A self respecting educator will look at the students’ results and contemplate on whether the material taught had been presented the best way possible or whether something could have been done differently. Many educators do worry and stress over students’ bad exam results. They too should learn to cope with bad exam results.

It’s an exam, so what?

The overstressed teacher should seriously take into consideration the student’s overall performance. Has that student been up to par most of the time? For half of the students who did not do well the reason probably is stress over the exam, misunderstanding of a question/problem or even that too much has been going on in his/her life and did not revise as necessary. This one exam does not prove to be the end of the world nor that he/she has not learnt anything. There will be other times and ways to prove their knowledge of the subject.


When returning the negative results to the student focus on the good points first. Next, be prepared to explain in detail the mistakes and together talk about what could have gone wrong. Finally, remind the student that knowledge is ongoing and the exam is simply to instigate revision and proof of knowledge up to that point on that particular subject. Refer the student to past successes and that there will be other exams to make up for this low grade.  Do not forget to tell the student what you admire about him/her.

It is fair to conclude that in all cases, whether a student or an educator,  it is necessary to keep one’s cool and look ahead. Be honest and realistic and contemplate on lessons learnt from successes and failures alike.