Failed an exam?


Maybe you saw it coming, maybe you didnít.Either way, you need a course of treatment.Fortunately much of the treatment can be self-administered so there may be no need to spend hundreds on recovery.However, failure does have a cost in terms of time, inconvenience, lost opportunities to indulge in activities you may have wanted to and, unless you have a very thick skin, some loss of self-esteem.Itís definitely an experience to learn from and one that you donít want to repeat.


This page is no substitute for professional advice.It is written purely on the strength that weíve seen a good many students who have recovered from exam failure and gone on to do well, not from listening to us but by implementing the strategies here.


Here is what your predecessors have done.


        Indulge in a bit of serious analysis before you recover from the news of the failure.Why did I fail?Attempted a course that was too ambitious?Lost interest in the subject?Lack of application?Too many missed lectures?Serious money problems?Work get in the way?Health related problems not fully under control?Too fond of drink?Too much interference in my life from others?Did I catch the disease from Ďfriendsí who didnít seem to have much work to do or didnít care?There is a big range of factors that can contribute to failure and a fair chance that more than one influence has been at work.

        Try to overcome the natural temptation to think that you have been a victim of circumstances.Write down the contributing causes to your failure and, alongside, suggestions as to what you can do about the tackling each problem.If youíve a job that has prevented you attending some classes, give it up and look for another one.If you have motivation problems, think where you want to be in a few years time.Out of work with no degree isnít a target worth aiming at.†† Aim higher.It may be tougher than you expect from where you are now, but it will be worth it.If youíve money problems, get advice.

        ĎGet adviceí is good advice generally.Talk to your lecturers and find out, if you donít already know, what are your academic weak points.Talk with your Adviser of Studies Ė you may be better to take another course, for example, than resit one that hasnít engaged your attention.Visit the Student Learning Services (look them up in the University web pages if you donít know where they are), discuss serious problems with the SA (Studentsí Association) specialist or visit the Counselling Service.Everyone is there to help, not to criticise.

        Consider looking for someone to tutor you, like a final year student or postgrad who can empathise with your difficulties.

        Start your programme of revision not long after you have heard your results.If you failed in the January diet, donít wait until after the April exams to start your revision.By then people who can help you, friends and staff, are taking their summer holidays or are otherwise engaged.Leaving revision to a couple of weeks before the resit exam is a recipe for a repeat failure.

        Make sure you have the full set of notes for the course, the course textbook, all the tutorial examples and any example solutions available.The key to passing in the August resit is to have an organised program of revision, backed up by suitable material, that you run with for a decent length of time.

        Checkout the status of the continuously assessed work associated with the total assessment.The status should be described in the course introductory document.In physics we carry forward your continuously assessed mark.There is no opportunity to take labs you have missed or do team-work you have missed but there might be an opportunity to submit personal exercises you failed to hand in before, or repeat ones you did very poorly.Discuss this with the course co-ordinator.Do this early on, not close to the resit time, which will almost certainly be too late to do anything useful.

        Finally, read over our hints for passing exams.Maybe you missed this page earlier or didnít really follow its advice.Nowís the time to prove that you should never have failed in the first place.Oh, yes, don Ďt forget to enrol for the resit with the Registry well in advance.If no-one is enrolled for a resit a month before the due date, one wonít be on offer.


Alternatively, you can ignore all the above and join the group who think they have learnt such a lot from their failures that they should have another one.