How to Get Over a Bad Grade

A bad grade does not define your self worth.

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You just spent the last week studying for your test or writing your essay. Your professor starts passing back your papers and you’re not even worried. Then the professor gets to you and you don’t see a grade you were expecting. It’s a bad grade and you begin to freak out. This will definitely lower your GPA and then you’ll lose your scholarship and have to drop out of school…

Before you do anything, take a deep breath. Everyone gets bad grades sometimes. It doesn’t define your self worth. When you get a bad grade it can feel natural to freak out, but before you do anything, read this guide about what to do when trying to get over a bad grade. 

1. Stay Calm

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When you get your paper or test back and see the bad grade on it, your first reaction may be to instantly rip up the paper and toss it into a fire. However, it’s important to stay calm. Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes. Try to center yourself. If you start freaking out, then it will make you feel worse about the grade you got rather than accepting it.

2. Take Time to Process

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Take a few hours or days to understand the grade you got. You may need to put it in the back of your notebook and watch a movie to take your mind off of it or try to focus on other schoolwork you may have. 

Understand that a grade does not define you and it does not mean you will do bad on any future work you turn in. Don’t let it affect the other work you need to turn in, but also take time to truly understand what this grade means to you. 

3. Evaluate What You Did Wrong

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When you’re ready, go over your work. Try to see if you made any errors that you can correct the next time or, if your professor wrote notes on your paper, take time to read them. One of my professors suggested even going back to any essays you write and make the changes your professors made so you can see the way your paper flows with the changes. 

Also, evaluate your studying technique. Did you leave studying for the last minute? Were you distracted while you studied? Figure out what you can change about your environment so you can do better the next time.

4. Ask the Professor for Feedback

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If you still don’t understand why you got a bad grade on something, go to your professor for help. Most professors are willing to help and may even keep your eagerness in mind for the next grade you receive. 

Your professor should be able to explain what they were looking for in your answers and can provide suggestions on what to study for during the next exam. They can go over any material that you found confusing. It also helps to develop relationships with professor for letters of recommendation or future career help.

5. Accept and Move On

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You’re not always going to get the grade you wanted. This is just a part of schooling, but it is important to accept the grade and move on. Don’t let it determine your future successes. Once you get into the real world there will be setbacks at every corner, so it’s good practice to learn how to understand and accept failures now. That way, once you’re out of school, you’ll know how to successfully handle them. 

You can’t always get a perfect grade. The world may feel like it’s crashing down around you, but you can use this grade to understand how to do better the next time and how to accept failure. Try not to spend too much dwelling on your bad grade, but also use it as a learning experience. You’ll do even better the next time!

Have you received a bad grade recently? What did you do to help you cope with the grade? Let us know below! 

5 thoughts on “How to Get Over a Bad Grade”

  1. I had gotten a bad grade recently, and I wanted to quit! It was so bad.. I stayed up all night crying because this was my final exam, but after relating to the tips provided, it really helped me. I was distracted before my final math exam, and I saw what result it gave me, hence I will next time try learning better and going over my material over and over again. Even though it’s hard to accept it and move forward, we must understand that a grade doesn’t define your worth. And it won’t harm in your future in any such way as it’s just a part of schooling.

  2. Thanks, this was really helpful I got a 75 even with help from my brother but when I read this it made me feel really better thanks!

  3. Thanks for this! I received a 76 on my test and I am really beating myself up about, I’m a bit stressed due to the end of the year. I think what’s hard for me is not wanting the professors to think I’m slacking. I do need to accept it move on, next time I’ll prepare better

  4. I used to be a straight-A student back in High School… I could count with one hand the times I got anything less than A in my entire HS career, and most of the times they were because I wanted to have a “bad” grade (like the time my dog had puppies the day of my Math final exam). I wasn’t prepared to get “bad grades”, so much than when I failed three classes on my first and second year of university I got so depressed that I even wanted to die (now looking back at it, I feel so dumb for thinking my life was over just because my bad grades). I couldn’t cope with the failure, and felt so bad, that ended up going to therapy. As you wrote, grades shouldn’t define us, and as long as we are working on getting good grades and learning, not memorizing stuff, that’s fine. After therapy, I haven’t failed any other class, and hopefully, I will graduate next year.


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