Chelle’s Clues for College: Failing a Midterm

You can probably guess my motivation for writing this post. Yes I just failed one of the many midterms I had last week. Woe is me. To be honest, I kind of expected it. The class whose midterm I failed is the most boring class I am taking this semester. I also dislike the professor which is a cherry on the top of the sundae of misery. Anyways, I had two other midterms and two other quizzes that week and understandably, one had to give. Granted, I didn’t expect it to give that much but…things happen.

I am here to tell you what I have done and am going to do about this failed midterm. Read on!

1. Don’t panic.

This is the most important one. I had a class last year where I did horrendously on the midterm (I didn’t fail though). I panicked and freaked out about it and when it came time for the final, I couldn’t stop panicking. I started shaking during the exam and I couldn’t remember anything I’d studied because I was so afraid of failing again. Till today, that is my worst exam experience. My point is, if you panic, you end up associating fear and anxiety with that class which can get in the way of your recovery.

2. Look over your midterm.

The biggest question to ask yourself is: “why did I fail?” Was it because you didn’t know the content? Did you make many silly mistakes? It is important to pinpoint why you failed so you know what to work on in the future to prevent this from happening again.

3. Talk to your professor.

If you failed because you didn’t know the content, talk to your professor about your concerns in the class. What I recently did was ask my professor if it was possible for me to recover from the midterm and how exactly I could go about doing that. If your professor is nice enough, you can even ask him what the mark bands were in the previous years so you know where you could possibly sit at the end of the term. One of the most important things that you can get out of this conversation is whether or not you should drop the course. Your professor knows best about what your letter grade could be at the end of the term and there is no shame in dropping a course (it’s better than failing).

4. Make a plan.

Finally, once you have completed the above steps and you know where you went wrong and whether or not to drop the class, you have to make a plan. By plan, I mean assess and change your studying methods for the class. Get some tutoring if you can. The plan basically consists of what you are going to do to prevent yourself from failing again in the class. For the midterm that I just failed, my plan is to keep up with the class readings so they don’t all pile up right before an exam and to study with a partner because it will help me remember the content better. An important thing to remember is to keep your options open. If you’ve gone through the first 3 steps and you don’t think you can recover, consider dropping the course. I know that there is a negative stigma about dropped courses but it is better than a fail so you should consider it (only after you’ve exhausted all other options).

While failing a midterm is pretty horrible, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Midterms are basically there to let you know whether your current methods for dealing with a course are working and whether you know the content enough. Usually, a failed midterm is not completely detrimental to your grade. As long as the midterm is worth 20% of your grade and under, it shouldn’t be too hard to recover. If it is worth more than that you might have to work a little harder, but it can still be done.

I hope you find this helpful if you have failed a midterm!

-Michelle

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