You’ve been working hard the past few weeks studying for your upcoming calculus exam. You can do all of the review problems correctly, and even some of the practice problems in the end of the book that weren’t assigned. You have always been a good student and so you are expecting that A on your final. Your test is finally graded and you hungrily grab it to check your grades. You failed! In disbelief, you look at the grade again. How did this happen? you ask yourself. You came out of that test confident that you aced it. There was no way this should have been your grade!
Even the best students will get that one grade that they despise. Sometimes, things just don’t go the way we plan it to go. Getting a failing grade can be a real drop to your self-confidence, but it’s important not to let this type of thing define your self-worth. At one point in our lives, we will all face something that we inherently struggle with. At those moments, we have to be able to learn from our mistakes and move on.
The first thing you should do if you get a grade you felt you did not deserve is look over the test and the teacher’s marks. Sometimes an error can be made. Oftentimes, however, it turns out that the material that was studied was understood incorrectly. Read over those missed problems and try to work them out again on a separate sheet with your notes open. See if you understand why the grader marked off points.
If you rework the missed problems and find that you are still getting your same, incorrect answer, make a note of the problem and write down how you think the problem was supposed to be solved. Do this on a blank sheet of paper neatly for all these problems and turn this in to your teacher.
Schedule with your teacher or grader a time when you could meet together to go over the problems you missed. The purpose of this is two-fold: it will allow you to learn from your mistakes and better prepare yourself for the next exam. It will also show your teacher that you are attempting to learn and put forth the extra effort to do so. Your teacher may even offer you some extra credit in the form of an additional assignment if they see that this impacted your grade severely.
You have to remember, however, that you cannot go in to that meeting with the assumption that the grader was wrong and you deserve a better grade. The teacher does not owe you any sort of redemption. Your grade is a measure of your own work, and they are just facilitators to your own education.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pick yourself up and move past the bad grade. It can be a slippery slope once you have lost the confidence, and motivation to prepare for the rest of the class. You have to be able to call this test an irregularity, and not let it affect your enthusiasm for the class. Think of the situation as an important learning process, and use it to prepare yourself for the future. Focus in on your desire to do better next time, and let that motivate you in ways that sometimes success can’t.
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