Now the term ‘bad’, in this case, is individually subjective. For an A* pupil, the idea of a low grade would differ to one of a B target pupil. Consequently, when either of these students don’t get the grade they want or expect, disappointment arises.
Usually, when this happens, we think back to what actually could have gone wrong. Was it something with our preparation? Did we not revise enough? Is it the exam board’s fault for having such high grade boundaries?
Whilst it’s easy to point fingers so you don’t have to admit your faults, sometimes the answer to these questions lie in careful observation of your own actions. That’s not to say the system is always correct because I’m sure all students would agree that there’s huge unfair pressure and demand placed upon us. In that case, the disappointment you feel would be for reasons out of your control. But let’s think about the times when we know our final grades are a reflection of our own revision, efforts and faults.
Usually when I receive a grade I’m not necessarily happy with, I reflect back to when I started revising for that particular test. More often than not, I’m guilty of cramming revision into a few days or sometimes even the night before. Whilst I try to justify this with ‘I won’t be able to remember the content if I start too early’, I know that this is just an excuse to avoid admitting I set myself up to fail.
Knowing that next time I must push myself to start earlier, I go on to evaluate the way I revised. In every case, the fault lies in the biggest source of procrastination: my phone. Although it’s easy for me to say I did ‘an hour of revision this day’ ‘2 hours of revision that day’, much of this time was spent scrolling through my social feeds. This greatly disturbed my concentration during the planned study session and as a result, meant that my time really wasn’t used wisely. I make sure I note to leave it in another room the next time I revise, as I know I’ll regret having it there.
After reflecting upon this, I tend to focus on my methods. Should I have spent too long making a mind map when I could have done bullet point flash cards instead? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of trying out different strategies only because my peers do it too, but rarely do I sit back and think is this method suitable for ME? From the time I receive back one grade to the time I have until another exam, I try out different revision methods to see which one works best. Sometimes, it tends to be that some methods are better for certain subjects so mixing it up is better than sticking to just one.
In other circumstances, I’m not always to blame. I know that I tried my very best, started preparing early, knew my material but somehow, the exam just wasn’t in my favour. When this happens, I do feel self pity and question what the point was in all my hard work. Why did it all go to waste? But amongst groping in a hope to find these answers, you’ll find that you’re wasting your time!
There are two things I do when this is my situation. The first thing is I try to be positive. Understand that there really isn’t anything you can do now for this specific test, except to move on and do something to make you feel better. Engage in an activity you enjoy or spend some time with family and friends to distract yourself from the negative feelings. After your mind is more clear and focused, look at what you gained from the exam. Yes, a good grade wasn’t it but take in the knowledge you have gained from it. Where were your weaknesses? Maybe you need to do further research to learn more. Learning is ongoing and you can never have done enough of it. That’s the beauty of education. When we stop learning, we stop growing. And without growth, we can never strive to become the best version of ourselves.