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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
fallingji Offline
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Thumbs down How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 20th 2011, 11:24 PM

I am feeling like s*** right now...

I am the type of student who is accustomed to get killer grades and who will never take anything below 85%... I just can't lower my expectations, just like other brilliant kids of my class (By the way, I go to a top school where the only thing that matters is to make grades...). I always had high standards about myself because it is the way I am. My parents never pressured me. They never asked me to be an overachiever, I did. I grew up like this. Some people build their self-esteem based on their popularity, success in the dating scene, talent in music, athletic performance, etc. I build my self-esteem based on my education.

So yeah... I just failed an exam today... I feel stupid. Believe it or not, but this failure hurts more than my break-up did... Am I completely crazy?
   
  (#2 (permalink)) Old
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 21st 2011, 01:24 AM

Hey Jinnie,

I'm sorry you're feeling so bad about this. Here, have a hug.

And hey! You're not completely crazy at all! I know entirely how it feels to be stressed about grades. (Hey, I have midterms tomorrow! Damnit.)

But.

To make a sort of inverse metaphor. You can play the lottery hundreds of times. Out of those hundreds of times, you might only win once, or not at all. Winning doesn't make you an exceptionally awesome person at anything but good luck.

You can take hundreds of tests, do hundreds of projects and assessments. You might just fail that one test out of those hundreds.

But you know what? If you keep dwelling on the failure, if you let it get control of your life, you're going to start thinking negatively. And that's going to make you fail more!

Please, try to let go of this one test. You're a thoroughly excellent student -- I can tell. There's no reason to believe that this was anything more than bad luck, that you were an unfortunate victim of circumstances. There's no reason to believe that this was any more than a one-time thing.

Finally, something that you might not want to hear. I'm a senior now, and ever since the middle of last year, I've found grades less and less important as a valid indicator of, well, anything. There are all of two real intellectuals at my school. I'm one of them, and my grades probably do show it. The other? Her grades don't reflect that nearly as much.

It's okay to have high standards for yourself. That's even healthy, to a great extent; we can't actually live good lives without them. Be proud of yourself for that! But at the same time, I do firmly believe that grades aren't all that matter. It was Einstein who said "The only thing interfering with my learning is my education". I think that if you loosen your grip on the notion of grades ruling everything, just a little bit, your intellectual life will actually improve. I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't firmly believe it -- to me, my mind is the most important thing in the world.

Sorry about the gigantic wall of text. I'll stop now.


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  (#3 (permalink)) Old
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 21st 2011, 01:34 AM

Hey, Jinnie..

I'm sorry to hear about your exam.. I know how it feels to be an academic achiever and then get that one bad grade. And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep about it, too.

That said, let me put this as eloquently as I can: When you let your grades dictate how you feel about yourself, the academic achiever mentality has gone too far. You are severely underestimating your worth, because there is a lot more to a person than the grades they get. There is much more to you.

I can glean from your post that you're very intelligent, self-motivated, and ambitious. And I'll bet my left arm that there are a lot of other great things about you. Don't forget all your good qualities just because of this grade. Instead, how about using those qualities to learn about some of the things you missed on the exam? I'm not sure about the policies at your school (or what type of exam it was), but maybe you can arrange to re-take it, make up for it with extra credit, or spend extra time with the teacher of that subject so you can gain a better understanding?

I can almost guarantee you that once you put your focus on getting proactive about your education instead of just making a grade, you'll feel better and you'll probably end up getting better grades as a result. Not to mention, your teachers will notice and nine times out of ten will think very highly of you for taking initiative.

Sorry for the rambling post. I hope this helps you at least a little bit. Feel free to PM me anytime, okay? You're not alone in this. Chin up!

Also, Fred's awesome. Listen to him.


"How dare I? Because it is the truth." -Jane Eyre

"You do what you love, and f#%* the rest." -Little Miss Sunshine

Last edited by Lorelei; January 21st 2011 at 01:40 AM. Reason: Had to add that ^ xD
   
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 21st 2011, 01:53 AM

You're not completely crazy. I can see it as a positive because it shows how much you value your education.

Fred has made some really great points, particularly that everyone is bound to fail something once in their life. Failure and disappointment happens - what you do to overcome it is what matters more and what makes you stronger. Just think that the past is the past and that you're moving on to the next assignment/project/exam and making sure you'll do well - not to "make up" for the last exam, but because you are a good student. One exam does not change that.
   
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 21st 2011, 02:55 AM

To clarify, I wasn't saying that you have to make up for your exam, just that being proactive in whatever way you can would be a better use of your energy than being angry about the exam grade. And if it is a substantial part of your grade, there's nothing wrong with extra credit that will help you understand the material better and keep your GPA up.


"How dare I? Because it is the truth." -Jane Eyre

"You do what you love, and f#%* the rest." -Little Miss Sunshine
   
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 21st 2011, 05:57 AM

Oh! Ouch, yeah, this sucks to go through!
I'm so sorry you failed an exam.
I failed a couple =/ I'm an A/B student so it was a surprise, but we all have our limits.
Don't beat yourself up, failing happens. Everyone can see you really value your education.
Just learn from this, try again, and keep your head high.
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 22nd 2011, 05:04 AM

Some personal experience: in first-year university physics, I had a test worth about 30% of my mark and I failed it (got about 30%). That was a massive kick in the nuts but to add insult to injury, I had a large assignment due for that same class worth around 10-15%. That one I also failed. I was pissed off at myself as well as pretty sad because I was thinking I got into a damn good university but am going to fail first-year. I ruminated on this and when it came to studying for a first-year calculus test, I didn't bother and of course, that one went down the drain so hard I was over-reacting as I was contemplating dropping out during first-year. I got over the fails, licked my wounds, dropped the physics course as I had no hope in hell of passing it and focused on my other courses, studying more than I ever did during first-year. End result was I got some pretty good marks in it, with first-year biology (2 courses) over 80%, psychology near 90%, math around 80%, etc... .

You're not crazy, just look at the big picture. Supposing you got high marks in the rest of the course, you may pass the course. This wouldn't be a 85% mark though but at least not failing the overall course. But, if you did fail the course, it's not that bad for a few reasons. First, you probably have high grades so this dent can be recovered fairly well. Second, you can re-do the course and depending on the policies, get that low mark replaced. It may still appear on your transcript but there may not be any credit assigned to the low one, so the low one wouldn't count. Lastly, this puts you in a position of testing your will. After recovery, it shows how strong you are because you never (or rarely) were put in such a position. However, failing to recover means ruminating on that failed exam which doesn't get you anywhere positive immediately. If you're concerned that universities or colleges won't take you because of that one failed exam and low course mark, you're delusional. It shows that on average, you're an A student who doesn't ruminate in their fails.


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Last edited by OMFG!You'reActuallySmart!; January 22nd 2011 at 05:10 AM.
   
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 24th 2011, 09:41 PM

Hello everybody who replied,

THANKS ALOT for these words of comfort! I almost got over my failure. It did not happen overnight, but I feel much better now. My ambition to be always better than myself has come back again!

I actually copied and pasted your posts on a Word Document so I can keep them... They definitely help me to cheer up!

Thanks again,
xx
   
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Re: How do you cope with failing an exam...? - January 24th 2011, 11:32 PM

I've never personally failed an exam but I do have a plan for if (when?) it happens: treat it as a learning experience and a kick up the arse which would apparently be needed. Get feedback, try and understand why you went wrong and where you went wrong, make a plan for how to improve, follow through with that plan and move on.


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