Get Schooled

How to Bounce Back From a Bad Grade

Last updated December 20, 2023

If you’re in college, you may have taken a class that challenged you and doesn't reflect your academic capabilities as a whole. You may have even received a disappointing grade on a paper, project, or exam. That is totally okay! College is supposed to be academically challenging, and it’s perfectly normal for students to take a class that puts them out of their comfort zone. However, there are some proactive steps you can take after receiving a bad grade to finish the class with confidence. Here are a few ways to bounce back from a bad grade in college!

Multiple students taking notes at a lecture hall - How to Bounce Back From a Bad Grade

Understand that failure is a part of learning

Understanding that everyone faces failure at some point is a fundamental part of bouncing back from a bad grade. It's important to recognize that setbacks don’t define your worth or capabilities. Failure can serve as a powerful stepping stone in the learning process, providing valuable insights and opportunities for growth. Embracing a growth mindset can allow you to view challenges as opportunities to develop resilience and improve your skills. By reframing failure as a natural part of the academic journey, you can ease some of the negative emotions that come with a bad grade.

Reflect on what led to the bad grade

Taking the time to process your feelings is an important part of overcoming a setback. It's perfectly normal to feel disappointed, frustrated, or even upset. Acknowledging and understanding these emotions is the first step towards moving forward intentionally. Reflection is key in this process—you should contemplate what might have gone wrong in your preparation or approach to the test or assignment. Developing a strategic plan for future assignments or tests, like targeted study habits and time management, ensures that you are better equipped to face academic challenges. Affirmations and positive self-talk are also powerful tools to remind us that we have the capability to overcome challenges and succeed academically!

Ask for help

If you find yourself struggling with material or concepts taught in class, a good first step is to stop by office hours. During office hours, you can ask your professor or TA about class concepts you’re struggling with, a grade you received, or what you can do to be successful in the class. Attending office hours will not only help you understand class material better, but it will show your professor that you are committed to succeeding in their class, which can go a long way!

Create a study group

By creating a study group, you and your classmates can help each other understand the course materials. Try quizzing each other, exchanging notes, taking practice tests together, and swapping flashcards. Having study group discussions on different topics also helps enhance your understanding of the class content. As a group, you can hold each other accountable and motivated for the next exam or project!

Head to the academic success center

Also known as the learning center or tutoring office, the academic success center is a place where college students can receive free tutoring and help in classes and subjects that are challenging them. Depending on the subject you’d like assistance with, you will either have to make an appointment to meet with a tutor or you’ll be able to stop by during drop-in hours. During your time at the learning center, you can ask questions, have concepts broken down for you, and learn about some study tips that can benefit you in every other class you take in college! The academic success center is an incredible resource for students, so we highly recommend utilizing yours to succeed!

Fully engage during class

Sitting in the T-Zone (the front or middle section of the classroom) can maximize your ability to fully focus your attention on your professor. Remove any distractions from your learning environment by putting away your phone, sitting by people that won’t distract you, and come to class prepared with a notebook and any other essential supplies. After class, review and clean up your notes to ensure you properly captured the lesson. By reviewing your notes immediately after class, you can better retain the information!

Schedule your study time

Setting a plan for each day can help you stay focused and achieve your goals. Start planning your study sessions in a journal or calendar and stick to them. If you know you have a busy day ahead of you, you can set an alarm to remind yourself to switch gears to studying at those times. By creating a consistent schedule, you’ll be able to study more of the class material compared to if you were to cram.

While receiving a disappointing grade can definitely be a setback, you can still succeed! Have any questions? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

Explore your goals

Succeed in College

Let Get Schooled help you achieve your goals

Sign UpLog In


How to Land Another Job After Being Fired

How to bounce back after being fired from your job.

What Teens Should Know About Good Debt & Bad Debt

Here's what teens should know about good and bad debt.

Made A Mistake At Work? Here's What To Do

You can recover from a bad decision and emerge stronger, smarter and more resilient. Here are some tips for when you make a mistake at work

Get Schooled helps young people get to college, find first jobs, and succeed in both.

About UsOur TeamBoard of DirectorsFAQ

Pursue Your Goal

©2024 Get Schooled