I thought my first Physics class in high school would be a breeze. My Mom majored in Radiation Physics in college, and always told me I had a knack for the subject. So you can imagine I was surprised when I got my second test of the school year back, and a big, fat “F” graced the top right corner of the page.
At this point, most students would freak out, and fall into a death spiral of fear and confusion over a failed test. But lo and behold, when report cards came out, I had a solid B in my Physics class, which eventually turned into a B+ for the semester.
Many people believe that learning occurs at a smooth and consistent rate, and a student struggling to maintain a C in a class should slowly progress to a B in the class, and eventually an A. But learning is actually a rollercoaster ride of epiphanies and mental blocks. Especially in a math based subject, it can take one person five minutes, and another five hours, to learn the same concept.
However, as you gain more knowledge in a specific concept, you can apply the strategies that allowed you to learn easy concepts to harder concepts, and over time, lower the time and effort it takes to absorb those more difficult concepts.
When I failed that test, instead of continuing on with a study strategy that obviously didn’t work, I looked at ways I could change my approach to produce a better result. Luckily, I got a B on my first test, so I simply compared my study strategies for the two tests. When I got the B, I spent a large portion of my preparation time doing practice questions. When I failed, I spent the majority of my time studying class notes.
Obviously, doing practice questions was more effective than studying my class notes. So by doing practice questions before each test, I began to get higher grades on my tests.
If you fail a test, know that it’s not the end of the world. Consult your classmates and your teacher. Research study strategies and try different techniques. Find what works for you! Don’t look at a low grade as a reflection of your self-worth, or even your effort. Instead, see it as an opportunity to improve not only your intellectual capabilities, but also your ability to overcome obstacles in all areas of your life.