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Failed a Test? Here's What to Do Next!

Getting a bad grade isn't the end! Use these three tips to help you move forward

A pair of hands holding a piece of math notes.

Imagine you go to check your grade for an exam in Canvas and your heart drops — the grade isn’t what you’d hoped for. Ever felt like this? Since you clicked on this article, you probably have. It may be tempting to quit, but before you make a final decision, try these steps from BYU-Pathway Worldwide's PathwayConnect curriculum.

1. Recover

A woman in Ghana writing in a notebook.
Learning takes time. Be patient with yourself as you try to understand new concepts.

First, put your test in perspective. Remember, tests are a basic way of measuring if you understand something. So if you don’t understand this concept yet, that’s okay! One grade doesn’t reflect you as a person or your future potential. One bad exam doesn't mean you will fail the class. And, it doesn’t mean you need to change your degree focus.

All it means is that you have more to learn, which is why you’re in school! If you’re having negative and discouraging thoughts, try and respond to those thoughts like you would to a close friend who was struggling with the same thing. You’ll most likely be kinder to yourself.

2. Ask questions

When you are ready to start making improvements, begin by asking questions to your instructor and classmates. Here are some simple ways to get started with each:

Talk to your instructor

  • Request an appointment to go over your exam and come with specific questions about concepts you missed.
  • Tell them how you studied and ask for their advice.
Two young men talking while sitting at school desks.
Your classmates can be an effective resource to help you learn what's being taught in class.

  • Check the syllabus to see if you are allowed any exam retakes or corrections. If nothing is mentioned, ask your professor. Even if the answer is no, it at least shows that you’re willing to put in the effort and be proactive.

Talk to your classmates

  • Ask how other students understood certain concepts.
  • Ask about their study methods.

3. Make a change

Now that you’ve collected answers to your questions, it’s time to take action. Reflect on what you did before and during the test, and see what you could do differently.

Maybe you felt rushed before your test. Next time, try to take a few deep breaths and slow down before starting.

If you studied just by reviewing your notes, consider creating your own practice questions and answers, making a study plan, or meeting with a tutor.

If your mind felt foggy while taking your test, try getting a better night's sleep and eating a more nutritious breakfast next time.

What matters is that you make an effort to try and improve. By going through this process, you’ll start to learn what helps you be successful.

Remember, the Lord loves effort

Jesus Christ
The Savior can help you overcome any challenge.

Oftentimes, God picks the seemingly weak to do His work. Why? Because He loves watching His children grow! If you choose to keep going, your failure is not the end of progress, it’s the beginning. Your failure only becomes final if you don’t try again.

President Russell M. Nelson said, “The Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it. … It takes effort, a lot of hard work, a lot of study, and there’s never an end. That’s good! That’s good, because we’re always progressing.” 1
Joy D. Jones, “An Especially Noble Calling,Liahona, May 2020, 16

Remember that the point of education is progression, not perfection! Do what you can to make small improvements, and you will be a successful student.