I’m certain I’m not alone when I say I’ve had my share of bad exam grades. Let’s be honest; we’ve all been there. College exams can be tough, but it’s important to know how to bounce back after receiving a poor grade. You’ll likely take many more exams in your lifetime, and learning how to study effectively can help you be more successful in the future.
I’ve taken many exams as a medical assisting student with Herzing University, and through practice and experience, I have learned how I study best. However, there is one bad exam experience I’ll never forget.
It was my first summer after graduating high school and I wanted to apply for a good job. I knew I would need to work and support myself throughout college in order to have a good future. My mother recommended that I apply for a job with my county courthouse. It was an excellent idea because there are many great benefits of working for the county, such as tuition reimbursement and assistance and career advancement opportunities.
Soon after applying, I received a letter in the mail stating I needed to pass an exam in order to qualify for the position. I rested well the night before the exam and ate a great breakfast in the morning. I took the exam and I failed. I reapplied on a later date and I failed yet again. I was very disappointed but determined to prevail. This time, I decided, I would go the extra mile to make sure that I passed.
Exam day approached again, only this time I found myself more prepared and determined than ever. After doing my research, consulting friends and family and constantly quizzing myself, I felt ready.
The proctor handed out the exams and I began the test, taking my time on the questions. I skipped the questions I didn’t understand and went back to them after I answered all the questions I knew. The exam was being timed, but I used every minute I had. I went home and I felt satisfied knowing I truly did my best.
The next week, I received a letter in the mail from the county. I knew that it pertained to my test scores, and I anxiously opened the envelope. To my delight, I had achieved a passing score! I was very happy and proud of myself for not giving up.
Here are a few extra steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared for exam day:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a tutor who can help you better understand the material and prepare for the exam. Or, consult a friend or family member with knowledge of the subject. Ask them if they have any study tips, or if they’d be willing to quiz you on the material.
- Anticipate tough questions. Make a list of the difficult questions you have encountered on past exams, or questions you still have about the subject material. Turn those into a practice exam. Use your practice exam score to see where you still have gaps in your knowledge, as that will help you decide where to focus your studying efforts.
- Plan, don’t cram. Study as much as you can, but don’t stress yourself out and try to do all of your studying in one night. Pace yourself and set aside time to study each day, as well as time to do other things. Exhausting yourself won’t do you any favors.
Instead of failing repeatedly without changing anything about my study habits, I decided to make a plan and the plan was a success. It is important to remember not to be too hard on yourself. There is no need to be ashamed. Everyone has failed, but if you are determined to bounce back, you will succeed.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.