Skip to main content

At the end of the first day of the Battle of Shiloh Tennessee in 1862, the forces under General Ulysses Grant were demoralized and defeated. Late that night Grant’s second-in-command, William T. Sherman found Grant under a tree in the pouring rain. ‘Well, Grant,’ said Sherman, ‘we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?’ ‘Yes,’ Grant replied, ‘lick ’em tomorrow, though.’

The next day, they did. Reinforcements arrived, and Grant’s army succeeded in pushing back the Confederates to win the battle. General Grant’s resilience made it possible for him to push for victory after a calamitous setback and failure.

What is Resilience?

picture of a woman in distress who needs to find her resilienceResilience is the inner quality that enables you to pick yourself up after a failure or setback and move forward toward a success. Instead of giving up, a resilient person takes time to reflect and honestly analyze the why behind the failure or setback.  He or she corrects their errors, formulates a new plan, and moves forward toward the goal.

Resilience helps students come back after failing a test. While performing poorly on an exam can be upsetting, remember, you will usually  have many opportunities to “show what you know”. What is most important is that you move forward, and perform better the next time.

What Does a Resilient Student Do After Failing?

So what should you actually do after failing a test? The actual process is quite straightforward, although every student will execute it differently. Very simply, you should reflect, analyze, make changes, and execute.

Reflect. Begin with reflecting back over your preparation, and your expectations before you took the test. How well did you manage your time? What study strategies did you use to prepare? Did you learn as much as you could about the test? What were your expectations going into the test? Did your expectations match reality?

Analyze. It’s not enough to find the right answers to the test questions you missed. Instead, do a careful review of your exam and analyze each item to determine why you missed it. Did you not know the information? Did you misread the question, rush through it, or forget to come back to it? Did you panic and shut down? Were you sick or hungry? All of these are reasons for poor performance, and it’s important to know why you missed a question so you know what to change for the next test.

Make changes. Once you know why you missed an item you can make changes in the way you prepared (studied) or in how you took the test. For example, if you didn’t know the information, you can make sure that it’s in your notes and you tested yourself on it before the exam. If you misread the question, you can read it more deliberately, and read each response before you select one. Figure out what you need to do, and then plan how you will do it.

Execute. Now, follow through and do the things you need to do to be more successful. Your planned changes are worthless if you don’t actually put them into practice.

Developing your resilience will serve you well during your academic and professional careers. If you want help coming back from failing a test, complete the Academic Coaching Request to schedule an appointment with a Learning Specialist in the Student Success Center. We will be happy to help you make positive changes in your study and test-taking habits and become more academically successful.