Post Exam Blues – And How to Bounce Back

Stress busting tips for writing tertiary exams

Post Exam Blues – And How to Bounce Back

Have your first results of 2019 floored you somewhat? A bad exam can be a massive blow to your confidence, self-esteem, and motivation. Feelings of humiliation, overwhelm, and panic overcome you, and you may be wondering, “How am I going to dig myself out of this mess?”

How Do You Define Failure?

“Failure is not the end of life as we know it. Failure is simply a teacher. You’re not defeated, just delayed. You’re embarking on a detour.” Elle Sommer

Six Steps to Turning Failure Around

Believe it or not, bad exams can be pretty good for your growth in the long run. To help you reboot yourself, here are step-by-step instructions to make you feel at least ten times better about yourself by the time you have finished:

1. Give Yourself a Break

No… not a break as in a bubble bath and a week off studying! Allow yourself a little time to mourn your ego without dwelling on negative emotions. Then remind yourself that you’re human, and you are doing your best. Be a friend to yourself and encourage resilience, positivity, and optimism for future exams.

2. Give Others a Break

You probably feel awful, not to mention embarrassed, without having to explain yourself to all and sundry. You do not have to discuss the life out of the exam with anyone.

Keep in mind that when people ask how your exams went, they’re generally doing so with good intentions. If you don’t feel like answering, that’s not a problem, just answer neutrally. Try your best not to be too rude, even if they are being pushy.

3. Leverage Your Disappointment

“Your disappointment comes from the fundamental knowledge that you know you can do better. That horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach is telling you something valuable. It’s showing that there’s a gap between where you are at the moment, and where you want to be. It’s telling you that you’re ready for improvement, and growth.

4. Embrace a Growth Mindset

People who have been praised for being intelligent their entire life often end up at a disadvantage due to the fixed mindset. They become concerned about approval from other people, they become ‘attached’ to a very static identity with high expectations, and they don’t take criticism well.”

5. Compose Your Thoughts

You’ve worked too hard to allow this bad exam throw you. Take some time to compose your thoughts and understand where you might have gone wrong:

Odds are that you failed in the first place because you:

  • didn’t understand the course material
  • didn’t go to lectures
  • haven’t been preparing yourself for the tests and assignments enough
  • need to improve your exam technique
  • had an issue with timing, or
  • all of the above.

Taking accountability gives you the chance to make changes right now to turn your results around.

Note: some extenuating circumstances are out of your control – events such as a health-related issue, whether physical or mental, emergency surgery before your exam, the death of a close family member, or a significant disturbance during the exam. You may be able to appeal to your lecturer for leniency.

Knowing where you went wrong allows you to get help, make adjustments, and use this bad result as a learning curve.

6. Take a Step Back

Finally, remind yourself of the big picture: what you are hoping to achieve by sitting through a dreadful exam. A ground-breaking inventor, a human-rights activist, an inspiration to others.

Don’t let a bad exam get in the way of your dreams.  

The Dux Advantage

Now that you have stopped crying in your teacup, send this article to someone who you know could benefit from reading it.

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