We all take tests in school. That’s basically what high school is–a bunch of tests. Some tests are so difficult that your brain feels like it’s melted out of your ears by the end of them, and maybe some feel like you could have taken them in your sleep. Either way, no matter how you feel about a test, I think we can all agree on that feeling of dread when the teacher announces that he/she will pass back the test.
There are times when you’ve studied your butt off and get a phenomenal grade on a test. Or, maybe there are times when you got lucky and the material came easy to you, and you didn’t have to study that much. But still, there are times when you’ve studied your butt off and see a mediocre grade written in red ink at the top of your test paper. Your stomach drops, your heart stops beating for what feels like 45 hours, and you immediately think (to put it mildly), “Crap.”
It happens to the best of us. In fact, if someone says they’ve never failed a test or big assignment in their life, there is a 99% chance they are lying to you. It simply isn’t possible. It is human nature to fail at times. The smartest, most successful people in history have failed before–many times. There’s a popular internet post titled “Famous Failures” that includes stories of celebrities, like Michael Jordan, and how they failed when they first began chasing their dreams. (Of course, when I actually need to share this post, I couldn’t find it, so I found a video instead, in case you’re interested).
Michael Jordan was cut from his basketball team. Thomas Edison’s teachers told him that he was too stupid to learn anything. Nearly a dozen publishing houses rejected Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before it was finally picked up by The Christopher Little Literary Agency (and eventually Scholastic, Inc.). And look at them now!
The fact of the matter is, one bad grade does not mean that you are a failure. It simply means you have to approach studying for your tests differently. When students receive a bad grade, we often tend to find people to blame. We blame our teachers for not teaching the material well enough; we blame our friends for distracting us; we blame our families for not being quiet enough in the evenings; we blame the freakin’ creator of whatever subject it is (curse you, creator of all things math-related!) We basically blame everyone but ourselves. But the bottom line is, as students, we must learn to take a bad grade as a lesson.
Talk to your teacher about what you could do differently, and discuss your study habits. Study a little bit every night. Reading, or even re-writing your notes every evening before starting your homework helps a lot. I always take notes on a scratch piece of paper during class, and then re-write them in my notebook every evening–doing so has made all the difference, since I’ve been getting A’s on all my AP Stat quizzes this semester!
Take responsibility for your actions–and if you find that you are still struggling to make an A even after countless hours of studying, know that success is about constant growth and trial and error. Don’t be so quick to throw in the towel–take it one step at a time and make small, doable goals. Make to-do lists if that motivates you. I’m one of those people who even writes “Take a shower” on my to-do lists because it makes me feel accomplished to cross something off of my list. Take it from Edison, inventor of the freakin’ lightbulb, who said, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” or even Michael Jordan, who said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
You can do it. TP believes in you.