Recovering from a Rough Midterm

  1. With fall break less than a week away, midterm season is in full swing. Whether you’ve already braved your first round of exams and are gearing up for a second or you’re emotionally preparing to tackle that first exam, I bet you’re not thrilled at the prospect. With work piling up and stress building, often not every exam score lives up to your ambitions. Sometimes a rough exam feels like the end of the world. Rationally, you know that there are far worse things. However, that growing panic is not easy to ignore. Here are a few important steps to take when you’re faced with a less-than-ideal exam grade, especially early in the game.


  1. Let yourself freak out

That’s right! Sometimes you need to spend a few minutes freaking out. Take two or three full minutes to panic and stress about not getting the grade you wanted. But when your time is up, take a deep breath and make your best effort to let go of the freak out so that you can start the process of getting back on track.

  1. Take a break from thinking about the exam

Especially on the tail end of a freakout, the first step of the process may well be forgetting about the exam for a while. Put the exam face down on your desk and walk away from it for at least twenty-four hours. Go for a run, have dinner with friends, do homework for other classes, maybe watch an episode of your favorite show. Make sure that when you return to the exam to review your mistakes, you have a clear head that’s free of the overwhelming panic that sometimes comes with receiving a less than ideal score.


  1. Reach out to your professor

Reconfiguring your study strategy is a daunting and less-than-fun task. One of the easiest places to start is sending an email to your professor. They are your first, and sometimes best, resource as far as that class goes. Chances are, they will be more than happy to sit down with you and talk through the exam as well as changes you could make to improve your score the next time. Ask how to best prepare for their exams and be sure to ask if there are any additional resources that they recommend checking out.


  1. Make a game plan

After going through your mistakes from the last exam, meeting with your professor, and mentally reviewing your study strategy, start formulating a new approach. What didn’t work last time? Did your professor have any suggestions about the best way to prepare? Did you reach out to classmates who did well or students who took the class before? Do you need to start studying earlier?

Bad exams happen to everyone, and they happen more often than any of us would like them to. However, they aren’t the end of the world, and it is definitely possible to turn your grade around. Who knows, you may even make some valuable connections with classmates or professors in the learning process!

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