The first thing to do when you failed an exam at ICO: Don’t Panic.
A lot of people told me that grad school would be rough. I would say, “Yeah, I’ll have to work and study hard,” but on the inside, my pride and ego would think, “I’ll be alright. I can handle myself just fine.” …Then, the vengeance and fury of grad school struck down like a two-ton hammer on top of my skull!!
Failing an exam annihilated my pride and ego and left me completely dumbstruck. I thought I was ready for this! What went wrong? What the hippo happened? How can I come back from this?! It’s worth how much of my grade?!
I promise that these thoughts invade the mind of every student who has gone through this program. So, what to do next?
- Don’t Panic. I know that this step is much easier said than done, but just try. Remember to breathe.
- Remember that there are plenty of opportunities to get that grade into shape. There are other exams, quizzes, labs, or homework assignments. While the percentages for little quizzes and homework seem minuscule in the moment, they do add up toward the end of the semester. Those points could be the little bump needed to get to the next letter grade. It worked for me!
- Acknowledge that everyone, at some point, has failed something at ICO; it could be an exam, quiz, check off, or lab practical. It’s good to know that you are not alone in that difficult moment.
- Look back at the exam completely, and not just the multiple choice part. Examine the days or hours leading up to the exam, trying to learn the material, and your mental state while taking the exam. See what worked and what didn’t work. Here are a couple of thoughts/questions to get the ball rolling:
- Was studying more productive in a group setting or alone?
- Does writing things down on paper stick, or does typing them on a screen?
- Were the recorded class videos of any use?
- Do you study in silence, with background noise, or with headphones plugged in?
- Was a tutor used to prepare for the exam?
- Ask for guidance and help on how to do better next time. This is where the upperclassmen, faculty, and staff at ICO really shine. The people here want students to succeed (even with the weight of that heavy hammer).
For that last step, I recommend waiting a day or two following the exam to allow for a proper cool down. Pausing can make a big difference in your being receptive to guidance and help.
Now, it’s possible to move forward and keep pursuing the goal of OD.