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How to Deal With a Bad Grade

Three Parts:Accepting a Bad GradeMaking an Action PlanGetting Good Grades

Are you very conscious about your grades? Did you just fail a recent test, project or exam? Well, don't worry. Everyone gets a bad grade once in a while. All you need to do is figure out what went wrong with this assignment and work towards doing better in the future.

Part 1
Accepting a Bad Grade

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    Don’t panic. Everyone gets a bad grade at some point in their life. It can feel like the end of the world, but don't worry! It isn't. You can come back from a bad grade, which is something that you need to remember.[1]
    • Your kneejerk, immediate reaction is probably unhappiness and panic. Take a deep breath and look at the grade from logical point of view.
    • If you need to take a little time to process the bad grade, that's okay! Try to go somewhere quiet so that you can get those immediate feelings of panic and distress out of the way.
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    Be realistic. A bad grade means something different for everyone. For one person a bad grade is an F, while for another a bad grade might be a B instead of an A. Being realistic means that you recognize that you aren't always going to get a good grade and that one bad grade isn't going to affect you that much in the long run.
    • College, particularly, is when people tend to get rude shocks about grades. You're typically required to do more and harder work and professors tend to be less likely to give out A's except for truly exceptional work.
    • For example, if you got a B on an assignment where you were hoping for an A, consider if this was actually your best work. You might not have put as much effort into it as you might normally. Also, remember that there is nothing wrong with a B, especially in college.
    • If you failed the assignment completely, did this come as a surprise to you? Did you think you were doing better than you actually were? This might be a time when your reality is not coinciding with actual reality and there could be bigger problems in your schooling.
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    Establish how you got that grade. If the teacher or professor gave you feedback consider what they had to say. If they didn't, you can look back over your work, whether it was a project, an essay, or a test.[2]
    • Did you not understand the material? Did you not study enough? Did you not follow the directions?
    • If you're still not sure, ask to see what other people got and check that against your work. Hopefully, you'll see why they maybe did better than you did.
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    Use this as a chance to learn from your mistakes. A bad grade simply tells you that what you're doing isn't effective. It means that you need to do something better or something different in the future to get better grades.
    • What could you do in the future to avoid getting this grade? If you could redo the work what would you do differently?
    • You might find that you didn't study correctly, or you didn't read the directions right, or you added too much extraneous material to your essay or presentation.

Part 2
Making an Action Plan

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    Talk to your teacher. It can be intimidating to talk to a teacher or professor, especially about a bad grade. Still, this is one of the most important things you can do. Talking with your teacher shows them that you're serious about improving and helps you because they can tell you what you need to work on.[3]
    • Ask them what you need to do to make up for the grade. If you can do extra credit, ask them if they'll consider it. Sometimes, professors and teachers will allow you to do things like re-take a test, or redo an essay to show your improvement.
    • This will show that you care about the class and care about learning. It really does. Professors and teachers will take this into account when deciding on your final grade for the semester, because it demonstrates that you took your learning seriously.
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    Decide how you’re going to deal with the grade. You need to figure out what it is that you need to do to make that bad grade not affect you and your overall grade. You may need to focus on studying certain things, you may need to get a better feel for what your teacher wants from you, you may need to spend more time studying.
    • See if you can make-up work and then make sure that you actually do your make-up work. You want to show that you can improve from a bad grade.
    • Work harder and work differently. If a style of studying isn't working out for you, change it. Try out other things. Ask your professor for the best way to study in their particular class.
    • Actually do your work. This may seem like a very obvious idea, but plenty of students are shocked to find out they don't get A's just for showing up to class. It's about learning, so make sure that's what you're doing.
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    Ask for help. There is no shame in needing help! Tons of students never take advantage of the help opportunities available to them, especially in college. You can use all kinds of resources to do better in your classes.
    • Get a tutor. If you can't pay for a good tutor you can often find someone at your school who is in a higher grade and good at the subject you need help in. Ask your teacher or your school counselor if they can recommend a person or program.
    • Get help from librarians. School librarians are there to help you with researching topics and maximizing your learning and yet so many students forget to ask them for help. If you don't know where to start research topics make sure you stop by the Help Desk.
    • Often, colleges have centers for Writing and Learning on their campus. This is a free service that offers qualified students to help you with a whole variety of subjects. They can help with essays, with research, and with studying.
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    Work harder and smarter. Sometimes you need to work harder to get a better grade next time and sometimes you need to work smarter. Doing the same exact thing each time probably won't be effective in getting a different result.
    • Study more effectively. Figure out where your weaknesses are in studying and make sure that you focus on those weaknesses. For example: if you got a bad grade in your Latin class, figure out what you need to study. Maybe you need to focus on vocabulary, or maybe it's parts of speech that you're struggling with.
    • Try out different ways of working to see if something else works better for you. For example: if you did poorly on that essay, maybe it's because you got off-track from your thesis. Perhaps next time it might be better if you outlined your essay before you started writing it so you knew what to cover.

Part 3
Getting Good Grades

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    Identify your learning style. There are lots of different learning styles. One reason you might have gotten a bad grade is because you are having difficulty learning what the teacher is teaching you. This doesn't necessarily let you off the hook, neither is it a reason to blame the teacher, but you may need to take your learning into your own hands.
    • If you're a visual learning you prefer objects like graphs, charts, pictures, and seeing information. You're better able to memorize and recall information. You tend to remember things better when they're written down. You learn better in lectures by watching the lectures rather than listening to them.
    • If you're an auditory learning you tend to retain your information through hearing and speaking. You prefer being told how to do things and then summarizing the main points out loud. You might concentrate better if you have music playing in the background.
    • Kinesthetic learners tend to prefer a hands-on approach to new material. You tend to be better in the maths and sciences and you'd rather demonstrate something than have to explain it. You also tend to do better with group work.
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    Study effectively. Most people know that it's better to get enough sleep the night before an exam than to stay up all night cramming. There are definite studying techniques that you can do which will enhance your studying abilities and will help you retain information better.[4]
    • Practice testing is a highly effective way to study and remember information. Using flashcards, answering questions at the end of chapter, or taking practice tests can all greatly help your studying.
    • Distributed studying is more effective for remembering information than cramming all at once. While you'll remember all that information for the test, you won't remember it in the longer term, which is bad if it's information you'll be needing later.
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    Make sure you understand the requirements. This is one of those steps that seems so terribly simple and yet so many students forget to do it. When your teacher hands out instructions to you, make sure that you are very clear on what those instructions are.
    • If you're having difficulty understanding requirements ask your instructor. They would rather work with you to understand the requirements than give you a bad grade.


  • Remember, a grade does not determine what kind of a person you are, so don't feel as if you are a terrible person.
  • Don't compare yourself to others; they're not you and you're not them, you will always get different marks to each other. It's part of life!
  • Never focus on what you did not do, focus on making sure you understand why you got the question wrong. This is especially helpful for future tests.
  • Don't listen when others tell you what they got: it might make you feel bad.
  • Tell your parents about your grade before they find out on their own. This way, they'll know that you care, and are less likely to get mad at you.
  • Ask your teacher or professor how to get your grade up with extra credit or make up the work you missed.
  • If you are worried with your grade talk to someone. Preferably talk to your teacher about it and they can help you get your grades up.
  • Always try your best in everything you do.
  • Do not spend your time dwelling on the past.
  • It's not the end of the world of you get bad grade. You can learn from it, and improve your next one.
  • It's hard to tell your parents but they will understand if you are truthful and take full responsibility; even they have made mistakes!
  • To do better in the future, you must learn from the past.


  • Always try your best and don't give up, no matter how hard it's going to be!
  • Don't be negative and just give up. Blaming yourself doesn't help you. Thoughts like this just make the situation worse.
  • If you don't persevere, then you will be stuck with a bad grade. You have to have determination to do well next time.
  • Don't hide your grades. Show them to your parents or someone who can help you so that you can improve next time. Hiding them just gives you the willingness to hide any subsequent bad grades and not improve anything!

Article Info

Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades