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So you got a C, or a D, or an F, depending on what you consider a bad mark. Sometimes, even a B feels like a slap in the face.

Although whether a mark is deserved lies in the eye of the test-holder, university life always comes with some sort of disappointment.

Admittedly, I might be considered a bit of an overachiever, as I have complained about a B+ more than once. Nevertheless, I have had my fair share of unacceptable marks. So many that I had to learn how to take them like a champ.




Behold, the steps I follow after an academic setback:


  2. If necessary, cry. Or at least get pissed. You need this first reaction in order to move on to the next step.

  3. Blame whoever you need to blame, without saying it out loud, and move on. Maybe you will blame your noisy neighbours, who decided to throw a party the day before the exam. Or you might want to blame the pizza delivery guy, who delivered the food late so you had to eat cold pizza, hence you wrote the assignment annoyed and pissed, and definitely not in the right mood. Or, hopefully, you will blame yourself, like a responsible adult.

  4. Review the assignment guidelines, or study guide, if it is an exam. Then review the part where things went wrong using the textbook or the PowerPoint slides.

  5. Email the professor expressing your interest in meeting them to go over the assignment/exam.

  6. Schedule a meeting.

  7. Prepare a second topic of your interest, not necessarily related to the bad mark, to discuss with the professor. This is in an effort to connect with the professor: someone who, more often than not, has something to say worth listening to, and might have connections worth making.

  8. Eat something healthy and filling before the meeting. As a professor, there is nothing worse than meeting a student in a bad mood and having them ruin the rest of your day.

  9. Go to the meeting with the intention of learning, not complaining.

  10. At the meeting, go over the reasons for the bad mark. Maybe even go the extra mile: go over similar but different examples of where you went wrong and see if you understand the concept. According to Murphy’s second lesser-known law (that I just made up), what you failed to do correctly in a midterm or assignment will probably come back to haunt you. Chances are, it’ll be on the final exam.

  11. Discuss the additional prepared topic with the professor (refer to step 7).

  12. Leave the meeting feeling satisfied and empowered.

  13. Wait for next bad mark and repeat steps 1-12.

Moral of the story: suck it up and deal with it!

BONUS: A mediocre mark mantra worth repeating is, "This number does not define me. A 65 does not define me. A 42 does not define me..." Ad infinitum.

Psychology & Business student. Currently broadening my knowledge on investments, insurance, & education. Aspiring CFA.
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