‘Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.’ ~ Henry Ford ~

Well, the bad news is you failed your exam.  The good news is, it’s not the end of the world.  It is tough to accept you studied until your eyes went dry and almost fell out of your head, you stayed up late with an urn of coffee to go over every fact and figure and you just didn’t make it… this time!  It isn’t ideal, but you have an option to re-sit your exam.

Keep in mind, normally there are two different kinds of re-sit. The first is when there are extenuating circumstances to either not sitting or not performing well in an exam.  Keep in mind you will need documentary evidence to show this is the case. The other kind is where you have failed, whether it was a bad day or where you didn’t prep enough in advance! That in mind, it is very important to keep your spirits up.

Right now, it is important to examine the reason for the failing grade. There are most likely many reasons and not just a single one. Maybe you had too many late nights, or took a few too many extra shifts at work or there were other extra-curricular activities that took you away from this exam.  Whatever the reason, you need to take the responsibility and ask yourself if there are any regrets. Hopefully not and now is the time to move on. The truth is, even if you regret whatever it was taking you away from your studies, you cannot change it now.  It is difficult to acknowledge the fact things could have gone in a different direction, but acceptance will allow youto move on and get ready for the re-sit. The re-sit isn’t going to happen immediately; so, it is time to make aplan and get ready for exam 2.0.

Now, here is some more good news.  Although you won’t be taking on the same exam, you should already be familiar with the format. It will be similar but don’t expect the questions to be the same. This is an advantage though. There will be questions you didn’t understand the first time and ones you had a good grasp of; this means you can really focus your studying.

This of course, does not take away the pressure of having to do the exam, but it should be less pressure than the first sitting. There is one thing you have now, you did not have the first time around – your exam paper. Once you get through the sheer frustration of looking over a paper you failed, remember, not only do you have the paper, you have the answers, and the examiners comments. You can go over the reasons you did not get the marks in the first place as well as the valuable resource of running through the exam again. It may be useful to get a number of past year exams just to prepare and test yourself.

This brings us to the main problem when completing a re-sit: maintaining your enthusiasm and keeping yourself motivated. The thing is, you probably won’t be the only person re-sitting this exam. Study groups are not for everyone but ask around to see if anyone else is doing the re-sit and help each other. It may be helpful though and it may put your mind at ease to know other people are going through the same thing.

Back to the studying, when you are preparing your study plan, keep in mind you need to pass!  There is not point trying to go over the whole year’s work again; you don’t have the time and you must have previous knowledge. Knowing 70% to 80% thoroughly would be far more advantageous then trying to cram 100% in – that’s perfectionism! If you have done a couple of previous year exam papers and there is an area that is really not sinking in, focus more in-depth on the areas you were never comfortable with in the first place.

Everything that makes for good exam preparation during a regular exam, works here as well, so keep the focus going. Remember to take the right number of breaks and don’t burn yourself out. At this point it can be easier to do this. Although it may not always be evident, there is the disappointment and dent to your confidence from failing the exam in the first place. Don’t forget, everything is a learning experience and although you have heard it before, it really is not the end of the world.

I don’t know if I can really emphasise this enough, you can’t let yourself get too stressed over the re sit. Easier said than done right?  True, but one thing some people forget to realise is they can take the increased pressure of failing the exam and the pressure of studying combined and you can be worse off then you were the first time. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow yourself a little stress to keep yourself going, it is important to keep a proper balance.

Let’s consider the five ways towellbeing: [https://www.mindkit.org.uk/5-ways-to-wellbeing/]

1.     Connect
2.     Be Active
3.     Keep learning
4.     Help others
5.     Taking notice

Because we sometimes forget this during exam time and when we are preparing for a re sit, we can further drift away from them and leave us open to ill health.

Connect: You may have to prepare, but don’t shut yourself away from the world.  Take time to just be out with people.  Even if you have started a study group to help you (and them) study for the re sit, take time out to just socialise. It can be easy to become isolated when you are studying and you can neglect your health.

Be active: Not as difficult as you may sound. You don’t have to go to the gym for a 4-hour workout, just get outside and go for a walk. The problem with not staying active is it lowers your interest, you don’t want to exercise and then your general motivation becomes lower. You will also lose your motivation to study too – it can be a domino effect.

Keep learning:  You may be thinking to yourself (or even yelling at the computer right now NO!) ‘What do you think I’m doing?!’ Sorry, when I say keep learning, I mean something new, something you don’t even know you’d be interested in.  Why not take 20 minutes a day going onto Ted Talks and pick a subject you may never have thought of before. I do recommend sticking to the 20 minutes though, Ted Talks can be addictive and should really come with a health warning of its own!

Help others: We sometimes forget just how easy it can be to help others. It can be just saying thank you to the local shop keeper when they provide a service, dropping into a sick friend with a bowl of soup or just holding the door for a stranger. It can be a sense of wellbeing and you are helping someone at the same time. We have a tendency to minimise the affect helping other has on us but it is very much a win/win experience because we are giving back to our own mental health. Even helping another student who needs to re sit the exam is helping others and they just might have something that will help you out with the re sit.

Taking notice: We sometime just need to take stock in ourselves. We often neglect what we have to be happy about. This can be especially true when we are studying for a re sit. This one event can crush us, but when the dust settles, and we can look at the big picture we can see there are many aspects to our lives; we are not one dimensional being and there is more to us then the exam we just failed. When we pass the re sit, it will soon be forgotten, and we can accept the next challenge. We have our loved ones, our family and everything that makes us, us. When we say we are more than the sum of our parts, it is true.

Now, it is time to write up your action plan for this re sit. It isn’t the end of the world and I know you will come out brilliantly at the other end.

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