What to Do If You Failed a Test

Convinced You Just Bombed That Important Exam? Learn What Your Options Are

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Worried that you failed a test either mid-semester or during finals week? Luckily, there are several options available for college students who think they failed a test. Acting quickly and knowing what to do are first on the list.

What to Do If You Failed a Test in College

1. Let your professor or TA know as soon as possible. If you're worried you're jumping the gun, what looks worse: failing a test and coming to talk to a professor before the scores come in, or talking to your professor after the exam only to learn you actually did okay?

Send an email or leave a voicemail as soon as you realize (or suspect) the test didn't go quite as you had hoped.

2. Explain any special circumstance -- but only if there were any. Were you suffering from a horrible head cold you thought you could work through? Did something with your family pop up? Did your computer crash during the exam? Let your professor or TA know that there were special circumstances -- but only if there were, and only if you think they really had an effect. You want to present a reason why you did poorly, not an excuse.

3. Schedule a time to talk with your professor or TA. It may be a visit during office hours or a talk on the phone, but talking one-on-one with your professor or TA is your best bet. Don't be afraid to be honest, either: You can just start off by saying that you don't think your score is going to reflect your understanding of the material and go from there.

Your professor may offer you another option to show that you do, in fact, understand what was covered in the exam -- or they may not. Their response is their own choice, but at least you've presented your concerns about your performance on the test itself.

4. Know your options if you do end up failing the exam. Your TA may not believe your reasons for doing badly, and your professor isn't going to give you another shot.

Fair enough -- this is college, after all. Know what your options are ahead of time, though, so that if you do get back a poor score on the test, you can know what you can do instead of simply panicking.