Translate

Monday, 23 July 2018

Tips to boost your confidence after failing a test.

By now you would have received your mid-year exam results. Perhaps you failed a test… How do you deal with it?



“Everyone else was staring at me in class as I got my exam paper back. Oh no, the horrendous figures in red ink circled a hundred times over. How on earth did this happen? What will my parents say?”

So you failed an exam...

That is unfortunate. It really is. We understand the feeling. Trust us, you may feel like you are alone, but everyone has failed at something before. Things will be alright soon enough.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill. This inspiring quote from Churchill holds very true. It refers to the fact that success isn’t something that is obtained only once and will last forever. Just because you have succeeded before (such as passing a previous exam) doesn’t guarantee success in the future. You constantly have to work at it. Success is a continuous process. Churchill also makes it clear that failing doesn’t mean your final downfall. Even though you feel incredibly low and dejected right now, it doesn’t mean that you will always feel so low. You have the option to rise again. As long as you are alive and have the will to try again you have a chance to succeed. You only have to find the courage within yourself.


In this article we will discuss the following steps how you should proceed after failing an exam:


1. Accept that you cannot change the outcome. Move on.

2. Analyse what went wrong.

3. Consider alternative study methods.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

5. Don’t give up on your dreams.

6. Set new goals.

7. Speak openly to your parents about it.

8. Make an appointment with your teachers.

9. Get help and support.


1. Accept that you cannot change the outcome. Move on.

As hard as you may wish for a miracle to change your marks, it most likely won’t be happening. After all, it won’t be right. You did fail. It is hard to hear the truth, but you cannot argue with facts. You didn’t know the answers. You didn’t study early on. You didn’t study hard enough. Your mind went blank when taking the exam. That graph threw you off and you got mixed up. When you turned the page it got even worse…

It happened. It is in the past. Accept it. Move on. 

Feeling bad isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It is good to feel a little bit disappointed in yourself, because it shows that you care. You care about your grades, because you want to be successful in life. You have a standard to uphold. You have dreams and aspirations. You want to finish school, have the option to apply to study at a college or university and have a successful career in the future. However, if you are going to fret about it forever, these feelings will intensify. Your mind will make you feel worse and worse – far worse than actually is necessary. Don’t allow fear to paralyse you. Don’t accept that this is your fate from now on. You aren’t stupid or a lesser human being. There will be more exams to prove yourself and everyone else wrong. Just start working on it.

2. Analyse what went wrong.

In order to find a solution to any problem you first have to pin point where exactly the problem lies. Break this whole big mess down into smaller chunks. Start putting things together in a logical way. A good way to get started with your analysis is to ask yourself some serious questions. Were you in all of the classes? Did you pay attention in class and make notes? Did you do all of your homework and assignments? Did you ask your teacher or other students for help when you didn’t quite understand the work? Did you start studying soon enough? Did you really work as hard as you think you did? Were your expectations realistic? How did you fare in relation to your other subjects? How often do you fail tests? Was this just a fluke or do you see a pattern forming? Do you have any health issues or other troubles related to (or even unrelated to) school? How are things at your home? Be honest with yourself about it. Many factors can have an influence on the outcome of your exam. Even the most formidable students that give their best throughout the entire term can fail miserably in an exam due to tremendous amounts of stress and exhaustion. See if you can find solutions to some of these issues. The solution may be simpler than you think. 

3. Consider alternative study methods.

Everyone is unique, therefore everyone will learn and remember things differently. Some people learn faster than others. Some are oriented towards analytics or theory, others prefer a hands-on, practical approach. Some people have to see concepts represented visually in from of them – otherwise all of the words on paper are just useless letters. We all have our interests and strengths. This however doesn’t mean that you cannot learn new skills or expand your knowledge in other areas. You only have to find a way for yourself to be able to do that.

Just because your teacher or parents expect you to sit quietly in your room in front of a textbook for hours on end doesn’t necessarily mean that they are correct, or to be more accurate, that it is the correct study method for you. You are advised to adjust your study method according to your own personality and needs. You may even want to adjust that slightly according to each subject. Read our blog article ‘Find a learning style that best suits you’ for a detailed description on some of the best study methods.

Tip: It is worthy to note that it doesn’t matter which method of studying you choose – only the final marks. However, you should definitely consider going through practice exam papers before an exam. Knowing the work is one thing, but you also have to know proper exam technique. Practice exam papers will ensure that you are fully prepared for an exam and know how to answer the questions in the manner that is expected of you. For details on our exemplar exam papers please visit our website.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

The best way to know exactly what it is that you have done wrong in that specific exam is to write it again. Work through every question and see whether you are making the same mistakes or are you finally seeing improvement? Do you fully grasp what you have done wrong? Make notes to yourself. Are there any potential traps that you should be on the lookout for in the future? 

Tip: Work out similar questions to get even more practice.

5. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Stay positive. You failed an exam, not at life. You still have your whole life in front of you. The year hasn’t even ended. You can still get a decent year-end mark if you start working harder from now on. Remind yourself that you aren’t the only person that has failed before. 

Some of the greatest minds have failed on their way to success. Examples include:


Albert Einstein

German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein is arguably one of the most prolific scientists to grace this earth. He won a Nobel Prize and was named person of the 20th century by Time magazine. He is the embodiment of intelligence. Yet, he was thought to be mentally handicapped as a child, since he only started speaking at age four and reading at age seven. Luckily he didn’t let that stop him. Can you imagine what a loss it would have been for the world if he allowed the opinions of others prevent him from living up to his full potential?

Henry Ford

Henry Ford is known as the mastermind behind the one of the most successful automotive companies in the world. Ford revolutionized the automobile industry. He made automobiles a household standard, he pioneered the ‘assembly line’ and sold 17 million units of his Model T. What many don’t know is that before his success Ford had failed twice – which resulted both times in bankruptcy. Can you imagine a world without cars in daily use? Had he given up prematurely our lives would have looked much different today.

Walt Disney

The story behind the man who brought us the most fantastical cartoon creations such as Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Bambi, other incredible stories, as well as Disney Land, isn’t without failure. He was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star paper, because they believed he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. His first business also ended in bankruptcy. For most a childhood without Disney’s classics would have been a dull one.

Bill Gates

The creator of Microsoft and one of the wealthiest men in the world had to work incredibly hard, before reaching success. His first business was closed down after the data in the machine, ‘Traf-O-Data’, failed during a presentation for a Seattle County traffic employee. Eventually his persistence lead to him to start up Microsoft, which revolutionized the personal computing marketplace.

Steven Spielberg

American film director and producer Steven Spielberg’s films has grossed more than $9 billion. He has also won three Academy Awards. However, before his success the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts rejected his applications twice! Eventually they tried to correct their mistake by erecting a building in his honour.

JK Rowling

The author of the famous Harry Potter series sold 120 million copies of her first book alone, and estimated to have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide in total. Later the entire Harry Potter series was adapted to film. It is hard to imagine her life was once very different than the fairy-tale it has turned out to be today. Before her success she was a struggling to make it work as a single, divorced mother living on welfare while studying. She wrote her first novel during her breaks. She was also rejected many times before her work was finally published for the first time. Fortunately, persistence can earn you a place as one of the bestselling fiction authors of all time. Not too bad.


Now that you’ve seen it is possible to make a huge success of your life after facing many challenges and failures, I guess the least you can do is try again. 

6. Set new goals.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and scared that you won’t succeed next time you write your exams, take a step back and rethink your approach. If you solidly failed your exam try to at least past the next one – you don’t have to become a straight-A student. For most children it would be setting the bench mark a bit too high. At least it won’t happen overnight. Try to improve over the course of the next six months. Work diligently on your skills every day. The key is consistency. Don’t work so hard that you burn out before the exams. Set up a schedule and goals. Work on specific topics so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by everything at once. Reward yourself for your improvement. This will help you keep your focus.

7. Speak openly to your parents about it.

The last thing you should do is try to hide your marks from your parents. Be open about it. They will eventually find out about it when they see your report card or at parent’s evening. Even if they don’t hear about it you shouldn’t hide it from them. Make an appointment to talk with them. They will perhaps be a bit upset when they first hear about it, but only because they want you to do well. They won’t love you any less because of it. When you are open about what happened they are put into the position to help you. They can try to help you with your studies during their spare time, speak with your teacher, get extra study resources or arrange a weekly tutor for you. Your parents can take you to an optometrist to do an eye test or to any other medical professional or mental health professional should you have a condition that prevent you from performing your best.

8. Make an appointment with your teachers.

Your teachers are probably the last people you would want to speak to right now, however you cannot avoid them forever. Make an appointment with them to ask for some feedback on your exam. It may also be a good idea to have your parents present during your meeting. Ask your teachers what they see as particularly problematic areas for you. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Teachers can give you some advice on how to prepare effectively for a specific subject and explain to you what they expect from you during an exam. Did you miss out on marks due to negligence or are there bigger concepts that you have no grasp of? Take note that some teachers are stricter than others. Teachers who are fair but don’t give marks easily, usually get children to work a bit harder this way, and ultimately you’ll learn more – which is what you want. The work will actually feel less difficult for you during the final exam, since you will be very well prepared by then. Make an arrangement with them to follow up on your session.

9. Get help and support.

Doing everything on your own is great because there are no distractions from others and it teaches you to be free-thinking and independent. However, you might want to reconsider if you become stuck. Find a study partner. You can learn a lot by seeing how others do things. It is encouraging to see others also work hard and go through the same challenges as you. When you face these challenges together the burden becomes lighter. You can also ask for help from your parents, teachers and tutors. 

If you want to boost your academic performance you should give ASP School Projects a try. We specialise in exam preparation and we have different packages available to help you. 


We trust that these strategies will help you get back on track after hitting a small speed bump along your academic journey. Share these strategies with someone that is in need of some motivation.