It’s exam season for a lot of students. While we want you to work hard and get the best result you can, we want you to realise that failing an exam is not the end of the world. We have heard news of students becoming depressed beyond help when they fail. Some even go ahead to commit suicide or cause physical harm to their bodies.

Yes there is a pressure to succeed. No one likes to be failure. But that’s not a reason for you to take failure so seriously. At one point or the other, we all fail. Truly successful people always learn from their failures. They don’t let it hinder them. And can we let you in on something; your result in school does not completely define your success in life. So relax.

Here’s what you should do when you fail an exam:

Find out why you failed. The fact that you failed does not automatically mean that you are dumb. It may mean that you didn’t answer the exam questions to the satisfaction of the examiner. It is possible a lack of good exam writing strategy caused you to fail. You may have overlooked important instructions during the exam or you just didn’t manage your time properly. Or maybe you were just too nervous. Finding out why you failed will help you to prepare better for other exams.

Ask for help. Once you identify why you failed, seek help to solve that problem. If the problem is that you don’t know how to manage the time allocated for the exam, ask those who passed how they were able to finish in the time given. Reading sample exam answers can also help you. You will be able to see the depth of information the examiner requires. If the reason why you failed is beyond your control, don’t lose hope. This is where prayer and wisdom come in.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Excelling in any exam is quite straightforward. You just need to find out what the examiner wants and do just that. Exams are not meant for you to pour out all you know about a topic; you’re meant to write what the examiner expects. So practice a lot of past questions. Ask your lecturer hypothetical questions to determine how he wants you to answer specific questions. Liaise with your classmates that have more knowledge than you. Learn from them. To pass, you have to be proactive.

Plan for the future. Failing an exam in your first or second year can be easily managed. You simply have to retake the exams. But what happens when you fail in your final year? Or something bad happens that turns your projected 2’1 degree into a third class? Don’t despair. You need to plan ahead. Once you collect that paper, there’s little or nothing you can do to change the grade on it. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, focus on the future. You might want to enrol for a Masters Degree and work extremely hard to make sure you come out with the best grade. Also think of doing some professional exams and excel in them. Finally, do things that will distinguish you from first class graduates. Yes, you read right. First class graduates are not perfect. With proper planning and hard work, you can beat a First Class graduate in getting that dream.

If you choose to rise above that failure, all things are possible for you. Don’t let your grades define you. Define yourself purposefully.

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