How To Deal with Bad Grades

Today, schools around the country are closing for the Mid-year holidays and many students from high school to tertiary will be receiving their mid-year results. High school students are hoping to use their results to secure a space in many different University institutions around the country and abroad for next year. And some of the first years are going to be a bit surprise when they receive disappointing results.

Disappointing grades can surely mess with your mind and obsessing a bit about them will be productive, but jumping to conclusions about your future based on one semester of disappointing marks is not sensible and surely not a wise idea.

You have to evaluate whether your marks show signs of a pattern or a fluke. 

A pattern of decreasing marks might point to more systematic problems like poor study skills or if it’s a wrong major for you, but a fluke of one bad semester might simply be a random occurrence. Ask yourself what was different last semester? Were your classes more difficult? Did you take more of them? Did you take required courses that were not an ideal fit for your knowledge or interests? Did you study less, or if you should study with new people, or if you should try to study in a different way? Did you utilize all the free academic help that your institution offers such as tutoring services, professors’, morning and afternoon?

Taking time to process what was different last semester will help you identify what you can and cannot control in the next semester. Focus on changing the things you can control especially when it comes to course selection that maximizes your strengths and study habits that deliver better outcomes.

You have to be honest with yourself about how much effort you put in last semester.

Getting good marks in school or tertiary requires more than a part-time effort. Are you juggling a job, an active social life, a sport, or a variety of other required or elective activities that take away from the time you could be studying? If your answer is yes, then surely you have to consider an option to cut back on some of these activities until your marks are back on track. The daily distractions in school are endless, and getting good marks requires immense self-discipline and dedication. You have to be motivated to make the sacrifices necessary to get the grades you desire.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Receiving a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. Don’t think one bad grade represents your overall worth as a student. The very fact that you are concerned shows that you are motivated and have high expectations for yourself. Take some time to process your reaction. You may feel anxious, frustrated, or even confused. It’s okay to be upset. Let it out. Suppressing your emotions will only make you feel worse down the line.

Go online and find other ways of studying that might suit you, ask people for help like your teachers or tertiary students, if you are a tertiary student ask second years how to cop about such a situation.

Put some distance between you and the grade for a while. Dwelling on it further while in a heightened emotional state will just make the problem seem worse than it is. Try to do something that takes your mind off of it. Exercising, talking with friends, listening to music, or doing fun things you enjoy are all healthy ways to relieve anxiety.

Planning Effectively for the Future

Commit to your goals for improvement. Once you’ve recognized areas where you need to improve, you can take the steps to do plan effectively. Make positive changes in your life where necessary:

  • Write out a study schedule that will suit you and follow it routinely. A regular schedule can significantly reduce anxiety and improve performance.
  • Get more sleep. The amount of sleep you get heavily affects your mood and ability to absorb and retain information.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Eliminate distractions. Prioritize the things that matter most.

Seek extra credit opportunities to make up lost points. Often times, teachers just want to see that you’re willing to put effort into your work. Ask if they’d be willing to let you improve your grade by completing extra assignments. If you can’t change your grade, maybe you can supplement it.

Be mindful of helpful resources at your disposal. Tutoring centres, teacher office hours, and study groups all exist to help you succeed. Consider restructuring your future study habits by incorporating some of these resources into your routine.

Move on. While you may not be able to change the grade you’ve received, you can take the necessary steps to improve. Try to consider it a learning experience. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. One bad grade isn’t going to determine your future, and isn’t going to define your aptitude as a student either.


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