How To Handle A Bad Mark | The Student Diaries #2

bad mark

Welcome to another episode of my Student Diaries!

My 1st Student Diaries was about my Experience and Tips with Clearing and I would definitely recommend checking it out as it was hard to write and I included a lot of important, personal advice that I learnt from the experience.

This next episode of the series is about handling a bad mark and hopefully I can make sure this applies to GCSE, A Level and University grades as although they may have different weightings in life, they are all stages where receiving a bad mark can often be sobering and hard to comprehend.

Everyone, at some point, gets a bad mark. It may be one that you don’t expect or it may be one that you totally knew was coming. There are points where things collide in life and you can’t give a piece of work your best efforts. So, my first piece of advice is to do with damage control before you actually submit a piece of work or take a test etc as this can provide you with a buffer or extra support that you may need and ensure you don’t get a mark that doesn’t represent the work you do.

In most places, there are ways of reducing the impact of this on your grades (such as mitigating circumstances, informing a teacher etc.) so always take advantage of these when necessary.

However, if you have already past this point and you have received a mark that was lower than expected, the following advice on this post is for you. I recently got my lowest mark I have ever received in Philosophy at university and I would be lying if I said it didn’t tear me apart. And it will. It will make you feel crap. You will probably cry, want some time alone and maybe some ice cream. But..

Limit your pity party.

The blunt hard truth of it all is that feeling sorry for yourself literally solves nothing. Although you definitely do need time to process and accept a bad mark, a week is just a no-go. Giving yourself a day or two max is almost always necessary to comprehend what happened. After that emotional outpouring that will likely happen, it’s time to be rational. If you got any feedback from the mark, read it over and over again to really take in what they believe didn’t work out for you. Basically…

Take action and make a plan

Clearly, something needed to improve. Often, a bad mark may be a complete anomaly but either way, the constructive criticism is important to take on board and focus on how you can improve. This advice is especially important if it isn’t the first bad mark you have received. Something is clearly happening that you need to work on and seeing your teachers, supervisors or lecturers to talk it through and make a plan of action to improve is vital.

Although, just making a plan won’t make a difference. You need to make sure you follow through with it. I think there are a few ways you can make sure you keep yourself on track to ensuring you get better marks in the future:

01 Get a study buddy! Revising with someone else is so motivating and it’s good to socialise too – remember to find a balance of work and fun that suits you.
02 See a teacher, supervisor or lecturer weekly or biweekly to keep them updated. Knowing you have to explain what you’re doing to improve is another motivator.
03 Book rooms in the library to go several times a week. Rather than just saying you’ll go when you feel like it, having a booking makes it seem more formal and I always feel like I’m then more likely to go.
04 See what extra work you can do. Extra essays, vocabulary tests, extra reading – it all helps
05 Get friends and family to read essays. Sometimes having an outsider’s perspective really helps

I hope that was useful for you guys! If you have any advice that you have heard or learnt about handling a bad mark, please feel free to leave it down below.




  1. April 26, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Great advice Ella! When I was younger, I was told a lot that I was really smart and I would do well. I won’t lie, it got to my head, and while I still studied hard, I thought it was automatic I would do well in everything. In my last year of high school, I started coasting, and I failed an assignment. I won’t lie, I cried (in class). That was a bit of a wake up call, because after doing damage control as you said, I still only got a passing grade. That was when I wrote off calculus as a terrible subject, kidding. I studied hard and passed that class with an above than average mark at least. I still do better in other subjects, but this whole episode taught me how to deal with failure. I’ve since failed or got a really bad mark in other classes, and in uni. But I can deal with it now (without tears). I move on, and see how I can make up for this in other areas or assignments, to bring up that final grade.

    • April 28, 2017 / 11:40 pm

      This was such an interesting comment to read, thank you so much for taking the time to write it out! I had the same really. I was always told I would go far and it makes you think you’re slightly invincible at points! It is sometimes good to fail as it’s a reality check to reflect on yourself more than anything, really. I totally agree that I have learnt to deal with failure better since. Thank you for commenting lovely xx

  2. April 26, 2017 / 10:17 pm

    Such good advice- a really well-thought out and helpful post that is practical rather than self-pitying…I was convinced for a whole term that one tutor had it in for me personally because of a bad mark….great post, which I have, of course, showed to my son! 🙂 xxx

    • April 28, 2017 / 11:37 pm

      Thank you so much, that means a lot to me 🙂 I have felt like that several times and picking yourself up can be incredibly hard at times but it only comes back to bite you if you don’t shrug it off and move on! Ah I’m so glad 🙂 Thank you xxx

  3. April 29, 2017 / 6:10 pm

    This was a great post! I always have my mom read over my essays, its super helpful, especially because of my terible spelling. Thanks for the tips!

    • May 1, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by! Mums have their uses don’t they, haha. My mum is a teaching assistant and I swear she uses it as marking practice haha. Hope it was helpful for you 🙂 xxx

  4. April 30, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    This is a really useful post which I’m sure I’ll refer back to when I next need to! I’ve had a few bad marks that have affected me and just wish I’d seen this before aha 🙂 xxx

    • May 1, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m glad it was useful for you! It always affects me badly but it is how you handle it in the long run which is the important part! Xxx

  5. May 12, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    Hey! I’m so so happy I’ve found your blog, I absolutely adore it and have just been binge reading haha!! I definitely agree with everything in this, with a bad mark it’s so much more smart to stop the pity party and do something about it! I can’t wait to read more hehe <3 xxx

    • May 12, 2017 / 11:43 pm

      Thank you so much for stopping by, you’re amazing!! Pity parties are miserably great for a little why but yeah, defo not the way to deal with things!! xxxx

  6. June 12, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    Hmmm. I was pretty much like Angela. Being told you’re smart and all. Until my straight A two-year record was broken (because the praise got into my head). I was devastated and cried for sure. But it made me realize that there’s such a thing as failure and that it felt horrible. So, I challenged myself not to let praise get to me again. I’d like to say I’ve never failed since then but that would be a flat lie because in order to succeed, failure is inevitable.

    Getting a study buddy is a great tip depending on your choice. Choosing someone who’s not serious/focused wont help your grades. Also, what I like doing is to pitch essays to myself (looking in to a mirror), an imaginary audience or my family. If it doesn’t sound right, something’s missing.

    • June 12, 2017 / 11:12 pm

      What fantastic ideas, I really appreciate you sharing them as they’re bound to help people going through the same dilemmas! xxx

  7. June 12, 2017 / 11:15 pm

    The pleasure is all mine

  8. July 6, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Just found this and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Yesterday I got the worst grade I’ve ever got in my end of year exams and it did make me feel crappy for a while but you’re so right, if anything it’s a good thing as it makes you work so much harder next time! xx

    • July 7, 2017 / 5:38 am

      I’m so glad it was useful to you! It is undeniably a horrible moment but you have to use it to your advantage otherwise it will just pull you down mentally. I’m so sorry you didn’t get a mark you were happy with – smash it next time!! Xx

  9. July 10, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. The best post! Honestly, the worst fellings are the ones you feel after getting a bad grade. Thank you for sharing your tips. So thoughtful ❤❤❤❤😗

    • July 11, 2017 / 1:27 pm

      No worries lovely! I am so glad you enjoyed it – makes all the work totally worth it! xxx

      • July 11, 2017 / 1:28 pm

        Yes so worth it. 👍👍👍

      • July 11, 2017 / 1:31 pm

        Thank you so so much for the follow. It means the word 🙈😍❤

          • July 11, 2017 / 1:34 pm

            🙈 oh thank you. I wish you a happy, productive and safe day 😗😗

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