Post #17 Failing An Exam Is More Common Than you Think
Many engineering students may fail an engineering exam. If you are not used to failing, it can be a jolting shock. You then decide to make it mean something negative about you. “Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought …this is devastating…I didn’t work hard enough”, etc. And the negative thoughts keep rolling in. I am here to tell you it is not as devastating as it feels when you fail an engineering exam. Read on for ideas on what to do next.
As a busy engineering student, there is not much time for a self-defeating attitude. Do not beat yourself up, do not doubt yourself and don’t feed yourself lies about how you’re not that smart. Instead, learn to accept the fact that it happened. You can turn what your idea of ‘failure’ is into something positive – and that belief will apply to you for the rest of your life!
What to Do
Here are some ways to use this as a learning experience. And, since you’re human after all, it is OK to grieve or allow yourself some time to be devastated. Be aware and allow the feelings (you don’t need to suppress or ignore them). Then, tell yourself it’s time to act:
- Understand WHY you failed – your method of preparation did not work so what needs to change? Did you truly understand the answers to each homework problem or did you just half-ass them? Did you read and understand all assigned materials? Were you consistently meeting with study groups? Does your professor know you by name…for good reason (see Post #15)?
- You must meet with your professor. This is non-negotiable. After writing down your answers to #1, put personalities aside, talk to your professor and communicate your thoughts. Of course, you may feel intimidation or embarrassment. Discussing your faults with your professor shows initiative. It is proof that you care and that you are the kind of person who learns from your mistakes. Your professor may share invaluable tips, advice or resources for future reference. Also, your professor wants you to succeed. It is important to create face-to-face time, discuss your status and build a sturdy relationship.
- Review every homework problem that led up to the exam and understand why the answer is what it is. If you don’t understand then ask somebody to explain. Sometimes, engineering concepts and theories will take several tries prior to your grasping them. Ask your peers to walk you through their thought process as they solve problems. Here is a tip for the rest of your life: try to understand the mindset of those who are successful.
In conclusion, failing is an opportunity for learning. You have control over your ability to learn from your failures. Everybody makes mistakes, especially engineering students. If you fail an engineering exam, it is indicator for you to change what is not working. It means you need to try a new approach or a new strategy. Don’t make it mean anything more.