Diagnosing the reasons behind your failure

The Learning and Wellbeing Team

Failing a test is very common at college and university. If you ask a first year class at university, about 33% will say that they have failed a quiz or a test. On some mid-term exams, in difficult courses, like calculus and chemistry, the failure rate on the first mid-term can be as high as 50%. That’s brutal. 

The Failure Assessment Checklist asks you to answer a series of questions about what you did and didn’t do prior to the exams. There are some many factors that can contribute to doing badly on a test. The questionnaire will help you identify what you did and didn’t do. These include:

  1. Poor time management and preparation.
  2. Ineffective study skills.
  3. Procrastination.
  4. Lack of perseverance.
  5. Distractions.
  6. Studying the wrong material.
  7. Mental health.
  8. Lack of interest.
Needless to say there is a lot that can contribute to a poor grade, but it is important to consider all of the possibilities, as you start working on a solution. 


It is important to keep in mind that a failure or setback is a common experience at college and university. Most students will experience a significant setback or failure while at school. What matters most is not that you failed but what you do next.  

What do I do next?

After you have reviewed your results and decided what skills to work on improving, you need to start working on a plan to get things back on track. We have summarized a number of important steps you can take when dealing with a failure or setback, that starts with limiting the pity-party or sorry-time to just 24 hours. 

Failing is always crappy and can be devastating, but you will need to keep going. Click on the link below to get started on dealing with a setback. 

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