What Failing a College Test Taught Me

I always saw myself as a good student growing up. I never seemed to have an issue with staying on top of my work or getting good grades without studying much.

Unfortunately, that all changed during my first month in college.

It was a World History class – far from my best subject and one that I knew I needed to study more for.

But being the inexperienced college student that I was, I put studying on the back burner and found myself on test panicking because none of the questions made sense. Two days later, I was handed my test back with an F at the top, and in that moment, I felt like my entire educational career was all for nothing.

Of course, things obviously turned around afterward, but for the few days after, I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do this whole college thing.

Looking back, I realize that even though getting my first F felt completely humiliating, it actually taught me a lot. In fact, I’d argue that it helped me figure out how to be a productive college student and get a 4.0 GPA in grad school later on down the road.

So if you’re reading this and you’ve either gotten an F already or you have a feeling you might in the future, I hope these lessons I’ve learned will encourage you and show you that not all is lost!

If you're struggling to do well in #college and find yourself failing, don't get down on yourself! There are lots of lessons students can learn from this experience. Check out how this straight A student turned a failed test into a life lesson (as well as a 4.0 GPA later on).

It’s Up to Me to Take Action

As a high school student, I felt like my teachers did such a great job of preparing me for tests and upcoming assignments. Even though I was always on top of my assignments, it was nice to have that extra set of eyes making sure I was on track and putting forth my best potential.

Little did I realize how spoiled I was at that time.

Sure, my college professors were nice and clearly had a passion for what they taught, but they definitely weren’t there to babysit me or make sure that I was studying everything that was going to be on the test.

In fact, they barely gave me any clues about what was actually going to be tested.

Rather than being proactive and talking to my professor after class about what I could expect, I just walked out and decided that skimming the textbook would be enough.

After I got an F on my test, I realized that if I truly wanted college to work out for me, if I really wanted to be successful there, then I was going to have to be the one to take action.

It was up to my professors to give me extra guidance – I needed to either ask for it or get a better grip on what the best study skills were for me so that I could perform better.

Looking back, I see that my test prep process changed completely after my first semester in college. Not only did I become more proactive with my studying, but I also worked harder to develop relationships with my professors and really understand what was expected of me during testing.

It was a wake up call that I needed – one that literally lit a fire under my booty and got me to be the successful college student that I became later on.

My Grades Don’t Define Me

Doing well in school was always something I took pride in. I was student of the month several times, consistently made honor roll, and a spelling bee champion.

I was not a person that failed.

Yet there I was, sitting with an F facing me straight on and nothing I could do to take it back. That was a mark that was going to define me forever – or so I thought.

As time went on, I realized that although I worked hard to get good grades, they really didn’t have to define who I was. Did getting an F on a test make me any less smart? No. It just showed me that yes, there is still work to be done, but one little hiccup doesn’t wipe out all of the accomplishments I had made up to that point.

I think it’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own expectations and we are so quick to let little details, especially the negative ones, make a much bigger impact on us than they need to.

What Getting My First F on a College Test Taught Me - failing a test in college or an entire class can be tough, but there are lots of lessons students can learn from this experience! Check out how this straight A student turned a failed test into a life lesson

I’m My Own Worst Critic

During my six and half years of college and graduate school, I figured out how ridiculously critical of myself I am.

As I mentioned above, I felt like so many little things defined me – Getting good grades defined me for so long.

But when I got that F, I didn’t feel like I could define myself as a great student anymore. All my years of getting A’s and being successful didn’t matter in that moment because I had failed – I was a failure.

How sad is that?

Over the years, I’ve began to learn that I will probably always be my own worst critic, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t give myself grace for my shortcomings.

I’m human. I can’t always have my crap together.

It had nothing to do with my capabilities and more to do with my preparationClick To Tweet

Clearly in the moment when I got this F, I wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t do the right things to prepare, but that’s just because I didn’t know HOW to yet. It had nothing to do with my capabilities and more to do with my preparation.

Friend, please don’t get those two things confused like I did at first!

There’s Always Room to Improve

If nothing else, getting an F on a college test taught me that I always have room to be better.

Who knows, I may have never started Chase the Write Dream if I hadn’t failed that test. I may have never been able to create a course on managing your time as a college student better or write posts that now reach tens of thousands of people every month. I may have never gotten a 4.0 in grad school or pushed myself to learn new things even after graduating.

So you see, failing that test was actually a wake up call to bigger things in the future. It paved the way for me to do so much more than I ever thought imaginable.

It made me realize again how important it is to constantly work on improving yourself and feeding your mind.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to stay stagnant. I want to push myself to do bigger and better things.

So if getting an F in college was what it took to ignite my inner flame, then good – I accept that wholeheartedly and would do it all ten times over because today, in this moment, I’m living bigger dreams than I ever imagined for myself.

This is Just the Beginning…

If you’re sitting there fretting over your grades, I hope that these words resonate with you and motivate you to start taking action. Remember, you are capable!

Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments below. Let’s support each other through our struggles!

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  • Carrie
    December 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Tori, what’s the font name that you have in the photo? The brush script is beautiful!

    *Great article, too!* I could’ve used this info back in college! haha!

    • Tori
      December 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      I believe it is Hello Lucky!

  • Lucie
    December 17, 2016 at 9:54 am

    What a nice and true post. I have to agree with you. Mostly with the statement “Grades don’t define me”. I am a perfectionist (at least I think) and I can’t imagine passing any of my exams. Now, I passed almost whole my exams and my life is not richer and I am not smarter haha. 🙂 So, I need to understand this. Thanks for sharing.

    Lucie xx http://www.inbluebox.com

    • Tori
      December 17, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Lucie! I’m a perfectionist myself and it was a tough pill to swallow, but such a great lesson to learn. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kelsey
    April 15, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    I think this is a good article because a lot of college students do not realize that they are going to fail and exam atleast once in their college career. I wrote a post explaining that they can come back from it. My blog is: https://survivingcollegeisabreeze.blogspot.com/