5 Ways to Bounce Back from Midterms

Midterm period is often the first time a freshman really understands the divide between high school and college and for some, it can be a pretty hard lesson. But while a bad grade isn't the end of the world, it should be treated as a wakeup call.


1. Differentiate Between Anxiety and Ill-Preparedness College exams can be built up as behemoths, hours-long periods of suffering and torture designed to weed out everyone but the brilliant and superhuman. But they're not actually like that. However, a great number of students fall prey to high levels of stress and anxiety during midterm period, letting the emotions take over and wreak havoc on their performance. One way to test if this happened to you is to redo the midterm somewhere comfortable, like your dorm room or a coffee shop, and mark yourself using your teacher's feedback. If you did much better, then you just suffered from performance anxiety on your midterm and only have to find ways to relax. But if not, continue on to tip 2.


2. Meet with Your Prof Your teachers aren't the evildoers you may think they are for giving you a failing grade on your midterm. Instead, look at it from their point of view: if you got a 34%, that means that they were only 34% successful at teaching you the material and for whatever reason, didn't get the job done. Make an appointment to see them during office hours, or get help from your TA, because they want you to succeed. If nothing else, they want the satisfaction of knowing they have the ability to teach.


3. Assess Your Future Getting a lousy grade on a midterm usually means one of three things: your nerves got the better of you, you didn't prepare well enough, or you're in over your head. If the third option applies to you, then you have to sit down and think hard about things. Sometimes, the course just isn't a fit for you or the timing can be wrong. In that case, and if you know that you won't be pulling straight A's for the rest of the semester, dropping it can be the right move.


4. Change Your Game Plan Whatever you were doing up until this point wasn't working because, as Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." It's time for a change, and it's up to you to figure out what that is. It could be something as simple as just showing up to each and every class, or something as complex as learning how to take good notes and the best ways to study.


5. Put it All Behind You The midterm's done. It's over. There's no going back in time, so stop dwelling on it because that won't solve anything or give you a higher grade. Instead, resolve to let the grade be a one-off and funnel your energy into studying, not moping and worrying. Hilary Clinton failed the bar exam the first time she took it, and eventually became the U.S. Secretary of State. Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California three times. And Winston Churchill not only failed the sixth grade, but he also failed every election for public office he ever ran for…and then became the British Prime Minister at age 62. A bad midterm grade might seem like the end of the world at the time, but it's a mere blip on the radar of your whole life.