Exam Results Back And….I Failed An Exam! What Do I Do Now?

Welcome to your first failure as a student, chances are it won’t be your last one (statistically speaking).  When most students go to a post-secondary institution their marks drop 20% (which goes to show you how easy some high schools are).  Midterm exams are usually at the end of October, and most first years get a rude awakening on how hard those things can be. After the midterms finals are just around the corner in December.

When The Exam Results Are Bad, Try Again

Midterms can be a nice wake up call, hopefully it only counts for 20% or less of your final grade.  If it’s 40%, you could be in trouble, but it’s not the end of the world.  For some people, they are able to rebound, put their studies into overdrive and pass the course.  For some courses, if you get below a 40% on the midterm, you automatically fail the course.  Again, it’s not the end of the world, you don’t need to fret or become stressed out.  It does suck, don’t get me wrong, but you have to look at the big picture.  All you have to do is retake the course, simple as that.  It will cost some money, but in the big picture, it’s a relatively cheap life lesson.  Myself, I either failed, or dropped, or had to retake a total of 8 courses.  What can I say… I’m a slow learner, and had a hard time finding that social/academic balance.  To be honest, I had to take one course 3 times.  I ended up doing it through distance ed from another school the 3rd time and wound up with a B+.

Retaking A Course Due To Exam Results

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Retaking a course can ruin your perfect schedule for the following year, that’s why I recommend distance ed.  Some people have issues with self-taught courses, but most profs just read a power point presentation that you can download anyway, so I really don’t see the difference.  Often distance ed courses have more resources you can use for help.  My advice:


  • Check the course breakdown – It’s nice if there are labs, assignments, quizes, tests, and exams.  That way your marks are broken up into manageable chunks and it allows you to see how you are doing throughout the course.  If you do bad in one section, it’s not going to completely sink your semester.
  • If your school doesn’t offer the course by distance ed, try online universities, and check with your faculty if the course will be accepted if you pass it.  I took Financial Accounting from the Athabasca University out of Alberta, nothing but good things to say.  It was a great experience, a bit expensive, but it got me my degree.
  • If you are looking at a different institution, keep it in the country, most international schools charge you at least 3 times as much for anything.
  • Don’t procrastinate – It took me 6 months to finish the first half of the course, and 6 days to finish the last half.  It was all fresh in my head when I wrote that final, but it probably wasn’t the most efficient way of learning.

Failure Can Be A Success

At the University of Manitoba, it costs roughly $300-400 for one course.  It hurts the wallet when you pay your tuition, especially the 2nd time… Either way, sometimes failing a course can bring a wiseass down to size, it humbles people pretty quickly.  I still remember some people going into “easy” courses as “GPA boosters,” and coming out failing it.  These people tend to take all of their courses a little more seriously going forward and are better students because of it.  Now again, I had to retake quite a few courses (all of them math), but I admit, I didn’t work as hard as I could have.  I did learn by my last year how to bite the bullet and focus on graduating, and I was able to realise just what I can achieve if I block out distractions and put my mind to the task at hand.

Don’t Worry

If you failed a course or exam, don’t worry, worrying is a waste of energy.  Instead, take the time to look at all of your options, and then execute your new action plan.  Learn from your mistake and keep on trucking.  You are bound to fail at something sooner or later, at least when you fail earlier on in your career, you will generally be able to stomach it better than if you fail later on.

What have you learned from your exam results? Did it make you a stronger person or force you to a different path?

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12 years ago

Making mistakes are part of life! The only way to avoid mistakes is to do nothing. Doing nothing is a mistake too. You cannot avoid mistakes, but you can learnf from them.

12 years ago

We all have failures and it’s important to learn from them. I had a terrible time with one of my first elective class in college because I didn’t have time to spend on the material. After that, I figured out I could take all the electives pass/no pass and do just enough to slide by. That way I can concentrate on my major.

The Wealthy Canadian
12 years ago

I took enrolled in a geology course while studying business at university; having the mindset, “rocks for jocks”, I figured the elective would be a good way to boost my grades.

Boy was I ever wrong! As retirebyforty mentions, we all make mistakes, but the important thing is that we learn from them.

I took a Canadian history course out of self interest a few years ago via distance with Athabasca University. As you mention, a bit expensive, but like you, it was a good experience.

NIce post!

12 years ago

Ya I took that course too, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, than again I never had the attendance to make a big difference, it was easy enough where I didn’t have to go to every class, yet hard enough where I should keep a 90% attendance rate… But hey! I managed to finish!

12 years ago

On the bright side, you get any insight into commodity investing from the course?

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