5 Ways to Rebuild Confidence After Failing

Marisa Rosen
Published on
May 21, 2021

Whether it’s as monumental as a class or a one-time deal like an exam, failure can get the best of us if not handled correctly. It’s discouraging to see failure printed out on a report card and staining a transcript, but there’s no reason that should stop you from moving past your failure and making the most of the situation.

Throughout my high school and college career I have had my fair share of failure. So much so that I almost considered dropping an AP Class my Junior year of High school and almost changed my major my sophomore year of college.

Pushing through and utilizing my resources however, led me to a better place where I am more confident in myself to succeed and celebrate my successes rather than dwell on failure.

1. Don't Panic.

Completely bombing an exam is a huge blow to self-esteem. Not to mention it can create unnecessary anxiety on where you stand in the class. Maybe you feel like this exam was the end of your grade and without it, you’re doomed for the semester and next thing you know you have to retake the class. This isn’t always the case! There is strength in stepping back and taking a deep breath and finding your footing after a huge blow, like an exam failure.

2. Assess your mistakes and learn from them.

When you get your exam back, the first thing you should do is look over what answers you got wrong. If you are a college student, seeing your professor during their office hours can give you a better grasp of course material and they will help you step by step on problems you missed. Keep this habit too.

Before exams, make sure to keep up on the course by clarifying what you don’t understand now so by the time the next exam creeps up, you have the subject matter down. If you are in high school, there are no set office hours however don’t hesitate to reach out for help from your teachers. They are there to ensure success.

Take the time you need to revisit material you didn’t understand and make special notes by these concepts to avoid repeating past mistakes.

3. Set realistic goals for yourself.

While positive talk and a “can-do” attitude are important, don’t set goals expecting too much of yourself. You are successful, you are a good student, but there is no dying need to be perfect. You can be, but for now, focus on getting yourself back on track.

If you fail one exam, aim for a passing grade for the next one. After getting that passing grade, shoot for a score that is above and beyond. Building your expectations from the ground up in small steps can build the confidence you need in order to keep pushing forward without diminishing your confidence further if you don’t meet those high goals.

Think this way: If after an F grade, you aim for an A without knowing the material and your next grade is a C, that is a big improvement that goes unrecognized because an impossible standard was set.

4. Take initiative.

Okay. You’ve assessed your mistakes, you’ve set some goals. Now don’t fall back on them and do nothing. Gradual change takes time and effort. If one of the things you did wrong before this huge test was not study, the obvious answer is to study this time around.

Don’t get caught up in the failure and let it be an excuse to do nothing. Motivation is hard to come by but by reaching out to others for help either a teacher to tell you what to study or a friend for some moral support you will be able to find it and all the extra work will be worth it once you are on the right track again.

5. Know That Everyone Is on the Same Boat.

88% of high school students desire to go to college but have a fear of failure. In the United States, there is a lot of pressure already put on high school students to do well. The SAT’s, ACT’s, the astronomical expectations of Florida’s Bright Futures program and more all play roles in what we consider ourselves personally good.

In high school and in college I have learned that I’m not the only one struggling even if it may seem like it. You are most definitely not the only one who mucks up an exam or needs to retake a class. Outside factors play into the student’s capacity to handle classes.

Right now, we are living through a tumultuous time with handling a global pandemic that caused students to put their life on hold in the middle of the spring semester. Even without this ongoing event, personal issues someone could be going through will most definitely affect performance.

There are resources to use and people willing to help you and give you tools you need in order to pick yourself up and begin a new day.

Find more free resources here!


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