How to improve on bad grades

It’s widely believed that to achieve success, we must also fail. Failure allows us to make mistakes and engage with the mistakes and learn from them. This can be applied to University assessment grades similarly.

I myself have received what I would consider a bad grade, although a pass, it was not what I had wanted to get. The reaction to the bad grade could of went two ways. One, a total feeling of complete and utter dread which leaves me feeling bad for days dwelling on it or two or recognition of what went wrong and that it a stepping stone to understanding further.

My reaction was the latter.


The first thing I did was look over any feedback given to me on the assessment, which was on Blackboard. The feedback was able to steer me in the direction of where problems had surfaced and informed me of changes I could have made, all notes were there to guide me away from making the mistakes again.

Outline next any problems you think directly had an effect on your assessment. For example, struggling to cope with the deadline, lack of understanding, lack of resources or even just a lack of motivation. To have these ideas first in your head, you can already begin to make changes on them and apply them in the future.

The next step was to contact my personal tutor and outline I had issues with the topic and assessment and receive one to one guidance on my plan to change things around. The session was constructed in a conversational manner which places you at ease and will not cause any anxiety or grievance over the bad grade but rather a platform to improve.

My tutor, for example, suggested in my next assessment similar to this one I should have much more contact with my module leaders so it was assured I understood and could carry out the task efficiently. The most reassuring aspect for me from this session was that the tutor told me that coming to them was the best idea possible as it showed I wasn’t going to let the grade determine how I would do overall and provide help.

The next step you could take after this is trying again. Although resubmission in some cases may not be allowed, there’s no harm in taking time out of your day in trying to work on your skills. Even just practising writing intros or structuring your arguments in short bursts of time will be able to make differences. If a lecturer is happy to, they could possibly even go through any drafts you’ve made.

The final step I would outline is to not blame anybody for the bad grade. The steps to turning around a bad grade are here but it starts with accepting you didn’t do as well as you hoped and making the decision to not dwell but change.

Meet The Author

Alex Cessford

Hi I'm Alex! A first year Journalism student at Lincoln but originally from Newcastle. I've always loved reading and that's shaped also my love for writing and sharing my experiences.

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