How to Bounce Back after a Tough Midterm

Bad marks can make you feel like you need to drop out of your class, major, or off the side of the earth. Everyone has gone through it, yet, recovering isn’t talked about enough as it should be.

DON’T blame. DO try to accept and be kind to yourself.

One of the worst things you can do after a bad mark is let your ego take over. Blaming the professor, subject, or test itself is not going to make your 35% a 95%. Furthermore, it doesn’t actually help you in the long run. On the flip side, there are those who cut themselves down after a bad mark and think they’re a failure or they’re stupid because of it. Both of these mindsets have the same root issue. You’re putting your value as a student, or even as a person, into your test scores. This is a self-sabotaging way of thinking about university and will never lead anywhere productive. You are not your bad marks just as much as you aren’t your good ones. You need to recognize if you think like this, and you need to start accepting the bad mark as what it is and try your best not to make it an approximation of your self-worth. As soon as you accept it, you can fix it.

DON’T bury it down. DO practice a growth mindset.

Everyone gets bad marks, especially in the first round of midterms. However, the students who end up doing better down the line are the students who learn from them. Bad marks are a blessing in disguise, and letting shame drive you to bury it down and forget about it is holding you back! A growth mindset allows you to take your mistakes and turn them into an opportunity to grow. That’s all a bad mark is: an opportunity. The growth is in your control. The wonderful thing is once you start implementing a growth mindset, it becomes a habit to think of your mistakes this way. 

DON’T do nothing. DO change and/or ask for help.

A bad mark is a sign something probably needs to change or that you need some extra help. Changing your exam preparation techniques can seem daunting, however, there are a million different ways to study. Whether it’s mind-mapping, flashcards, or even time techniques like Pomodoro! There’s always something new to try out. Additionally, going to your instructor and asking for tips on how to better study for their exams is always a good idea. They may even have extra practice for you. 


Sometimes we get bad marks and that is okay. Life circumstances and burn out can make midterm and final exam seasons very difficult. What is important is that we learn from our mistakes and work towards doing better next time!

Author: Bronwen Clark
Editor: Celina Macleod