There´s no pretty way to put this. I mean, you can put flowers on a dog-do, but it´s still going to be a dog-do, right? So here it goes:
I failed my grammar exam
I was on the bus on my way to the hairdresser when I got a notification that I had received a grade for my hand-in. I knew the result was going to make or break my day, but I decided to brave through it and rip the bandaid off quickly, as the knowledge of its existence and availability to me had already left its imprint on my day.
So I checked, and there it was, black on white – a big fat F.
Once I unclenched my fists and wiped the burning tears out of my eyes (why is this so emotional?), the following 2 questions popped into my head:
1) Did I Overestimate My Own Efforts?
I think most students actually do everything they can in the actual exam situation. Whether it´s writing a paper from home or attempting to hammer out something coherent in 4 hours in a giant room with one hundred other students, I think everyone, when it comes down to it, tries their best. The problem is the time before that – revision, preparation, etc. With this exam, I really did revise as much as my brain allowed to me. I felt prepared, and as I opened the exam paper, there was not a single question that took me aback or that I felt unprepared for. In fact, I started typing immediately, and didn´t need a book until an hour into the exam. However, as I learned, this is not necessarily a good thing!!! But no, all in all I don´t think I overestimated my efforts to pass this exam.
2) Do I Know What I Don´t Know?
this one is more tricky. Often times we know what went wrong, or know our weak points. Perhaps you ran out of time and you would´ve been able to pass had it not been for this factor; or maybe you were asked the one thing you had hoped would not show up on the test. Or maybe – and here is the thing – maybe you truly felt like you knew and understood everything, and finding out that you didn´t comes as a surprise to you because there´s clearly something you don´t know that you don´t know you don´t know (I´m beginning to sound like that boring-ass Donald Rumfeld movie). That is most definitely the case for me; there´s something that I feel completely confident in that I clearly haven´t truly understood, and that is where the chain broke for me. I don´t know what I don´t know.
I had to transfer between multiple means of transportation to get to my appointment, and the process of making my way from A to B gave me some time to reflect on my woeful situation. I feel like I went through the whole spectrum of emotions one typically feels when they are directly told that their skills just don´t meet the requirements.
F for failure (“I´m a walking, talking embarrassment to myself and others)
F for figures (“Of course I failed. How could I not?)
F for fu… it (“That whole class is BS, anyway. Who needs clause trees? I´ve spent 27 years constructing sentences just fine without ´em!)
and finally, walking up the brick steps to my hairdresser´s salon, F came to stand for fix it.
Because what other options do I have? There´s no use in throwing in the towel now – in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. Haven´t most of us been through worse in our lives? Anyway, I´ve decided to share with you some of the things that I have been doing/telling myself in the last couple of days.
8 Tips For Moving on After You´ve Failed an Exam:
- Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give yourself a hug. Go ahead – give yourself a squeeze. Don´t stop until you feel the #selflove, okay?
- Give yourself 5 minutes to feel sad and defeated.It does suck!
- Give yourself a day to pick yourself up. Distance yourself from it and try to forget about it for a little while. Go to the movies, meet your friend for a cup of tea, snuggle with your cats on the couch.
- Find a tutor! (if you find it necessary) I´ve realized I need help because I don´t know what I don´t know. Dammit, Don R., get out of my head!
- Ask your professor!
Ask your professor if they can tell you specifically what went wrong. Obviously this is mostly relevant if you really have no idea what went wrong.
- Your F doesn´t have to be a secret! Yeah, something went wrong, big deal. If it becomes some sort of state-level secret for you, it can end up feeling even more like an embarrassment. You don´t have to scream it off the roof tops, I certainly don´t intent to, but if my classmates ask how it went, I´m going to be honest – it went like shit! I guarantee you that you will meet both solidarity, sympathy, and probably one or two will say “Man, I thought I was the only one!” Just like bitching about the teachers, this can be a bonding experience!
- Everybody fails! Now, I have absolutely no statistic to back this up (how academic of me), but after several years of monkeying around in the dusty world of academia, I can tell you that I have met plenty of people who have become closely acquainted with the good ol´ “F”. Failing an exam only makes it all the more impressive when you pass one, because subjects at university levels ARE hard and ARE challenging. Suddenly I have so much more respect for the masters of my field, because they made it through a year and a half of clause trees and that´s not some easy task.
- Write your theory at home! Did you run out of time? Well, if you are allowed to bring notes and other aids, I would suggest writing most of your theory sections from home, ready to type into the word document. I made the mistake of only bringing notes, which meant that I had to tie it all together at the exam. When you are pressed for time, this becomes a major stress factor. Don´t do what I did!
Finally, repeat this to yourself as many times as needed: You´re not a failure, you´re not a disappointment – you are not your grade.