Top 5 Ways to Bounce Back From A Bad Grade


Max Tapper

We’ve all been there. The teacher starts handing back a quiz or test that you took last week. As the teacher proceeds towards your desk, your palms go cold, and your heart starts to hammer. That little red number on that assessment can do your average in the class wonders, but there is a looming chance that your average can be left with a nasty mark. As soon as the teacher places the assessment on your desk, your eyes instantly dart towards the little red number on the paper. As soon as you catch a glimpse of the number, you have to muffle back a squawk. Needless to say, you are not too happy with what you see.

Receiving a bad grade, especially if you studied in advance, or if you are normally a straight A student, can be emotionally taxing. You’ll likely feel quite distraught, and you might even feel a little bit angry. However, from my experience, I can assure you that getting a bad grade every now and then won’t kill you. I’m Max Tapper, and I’m here to give you, my fellow students, some pointers on how to recover from a poor mark and re-emerge stronger than ever.


  1. Schedule an Appointment With Your Teacher to See What You Got Wrong On The Quiz or Test

Back in January, I took a quiz for Algebra 1 on x and y intercepts. I had studied 2 nights in advance by redoing some of the example problems given to us in class, so I thought I aced the quiz. However, a few days later, I logged into Genesis to see my grade on the quiz, and I saw that I got a 78. I was very concerned when I saw this, as this was not a normal score for me on my Algebra 1 exams. So, when I got home, I wrote an email to my teacher Ms. Wilson asking if we could schedule an appointment to see what I got wrong on the quiz. Ms. Wilson agreed, and the following day during class, she took me out of the room to show me my quiz. I was very grateful that Mrs. Wilson took the time to walk me through each problem and thoroughly explain what errors I had made, which turned out to be minor. This showed that Ms. Wilson truly took into consideration my level of understanding of the material, and had my best interest at heart. This just goes to show that teachers are there to help their students. Not only that, but this also proves that we should acknowledge that our teachers always have our backs whether it is obvious or not.


2. Go to Extra Help To Understand The Material Better

One of the most common reasons students may not do well on quizzes or tests is that they just can’t wrap their heads around the material, even if they are trying their hardest. For example, when we went over how to do energy unit conversions in my chemistry class, I tried some problems on my own, and I can sheepishly say that I had no idea what I was doing. I verbalized my struggles on energy unit conversions with my teacher Ms. Burdick, and she proposed that I come to extra help the following Wednesday. I followed Ms. Burdick’s suggestion, and came into class before the bell that following Wednesday. After I signed myself in, Ms. Burdick showed me a quiz that I had taken the previous week on energy unit conversions, which I had received a 68 on. Ms. Burdick explained to me my errors, such as me forgetting to divide by 4.18 J and 1000 kcal in the dimensional analysis problems. The way Ms. Burdick explained to me the errors that I had made was very clear and precise, and her explanation made me understand energy unit conversions much better. What students should take from my experience is that whenever you don’t understand the material taught, your best bet would be to ask a teacher during office hours for assistance. That way, you will get a one-on-one experience having the material reinforced, and better yet, by attending extra help, you are setting yourself up for great success on your next assessment.


3. Ask Your Friends For Help On The Material

Whenever scores are released for quizzes or tests, you are probably curious as to how your friends did on the same assessment you took as them. If you didn’t do so hot on the test or quiz, you may feel disheartened when you hear that your friend(s) got a higher score than you. However, that doesn’t mean that your friends are ‘’smarter’’ than you. If your friends are comfortable, ask them about how they prepared for the quiz or test. Keep in mind that not everyone takes the same approach when it comes to preparing for assessments. Some of your friends may have studied multiple days prior, whilst some of your other friends may have spent the night before cramming. It should also be noted that a preparation method that one your friends used, such as cramming, may not work for you. However, your friends may give you some useful tips to use when you are preparing for and taking the exam. For example, one of your friends may tell you not to overthink the material, and that you just have to memorize how to use the material (i.e. equations and vocabulary). These tips may be very helpful for you, especially if you have test anxiety. However, you should approach your friends’ suggestions with healthy skepticism, as ultimately, it is up to you to decide what study method most ensures your success.


4. Re-evaluate Your Preparation Method Prior to the Quiz or Test

No matter how hard we try, things are going to fall apart from time to time, and we might not reach a certain goal that we have planned. Whenever this happens, we sometimes just need to be honest with ourselves and accept the ugly truth. For example, if you found out that you got a low C on a World History test that you spent 2 hours a night studying for in advance, you would likely find that somewhat unfair. However, even though you might not want to admit it, the truth of the matter could be that your study method was not up to par. Did you take good notes to refer to while studying? Did you schedule breaks during study sessions? Did you study in a quiet, distraction-free environment? As you ask yourself these questions and honestly answer them, you’ll realize that you may have to make some changes in your study routine. Outside of the classroom, consider some alternatives to your current study habits, such as studying in a quieter, more distracting-free area. You also may want to look over your notes and make sure the information you are writing down is accurate. You can check the accuracy of your notes by looking at any slideshows that your teacher has posted in Google Classroom. In fact, by looking at any slideshows your teacher has posted, you may pick up some information that you didn’t catch before, and that can help you strengthen your understanding of the material being taught. The stronger your understanding of the material, the more likely you are to score better on your quizzes and tests. As my own father can tell you, knowledge is power.


5. Don’t Overthink The Grade, For The Best Is Yet To Come

I’ll admit it. I’m the kind of person that tends to overthink things that are happening in my life, even if they don’t affect me directly. I usually find myself fixating on minor setbacks, which, as you can probably guess at this point, include getting a bad grade. There have been times where I was very upset by the grade, and got myself to the point where I was practically giving myself a panic attack. However, as my family, friends, and even some of my teachers have continued to say to me time and time again, one bad grade isn’t the end of the world. Imagine if you found out you got a 67 on a biology test, and your grade in your biology class went down to a B-. You would probably feel miserable. However, as you take a look around you, you would notice that everyone else is carrying on with their daily activities, and that life continues to go on. Just because you missed the mark on one test doesn’t mean your life will come crashing down on you. You should not be like me and fixate on the grade. If you do, you will dig yourself into a hole of frustration, and you will struggle greatly with regaining the stamina to do better on future assessments. In the event that you score poorly on your next assessment or even fail it, I suggest that you remind yourself that you are bound to get better grades in the future. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday you will bounce back and take names on whatever quiz or test you are faced with next!