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As the school year is starting to ramp up, it might feel a little soon to start thinking about midterms. For many students, midterm assignments are some of the most heavily weighted grades of the semester. So, these grades can essentially “make or break” a student’s grade. While midterm grades are important, it is crucial to maintain perspective to make sure that you can overcome midterm grade disappointment. 

So what happens when you take a test and bomb it? How do you overcome it and move forward to studying for your finals? It’s easy to begin to believe that you are less-than when a test score is lower than you had hoped. 

As a student, you have a toolbox that you put in tools to succeed in school. These tools include study skills, note-taking techniques, and the best music to study too. These are important tools! But they aren’t the only ones you need. You must also include tools to help you cope with midterm grade disappointment. This post has all the best tips and tricks to put into your toolbox to help overcome disappointment!


What are Midterms?

Midterms are quite literally an assessment that happens in the middle of a term (usually a semester). These assessments are often a test, but could also be an essay or a project. Midterms are high-point, heavily weighted grades that are meant to close the chapter of the first half of a term. 

They usually cover the content taught over multiple units and will challenge a student to apply their learning to demonstrate understanding. 

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Midterms begin in middle school and continue into college (and beyond). This is because many teachers believe that they are a valid measurement of student understanding.

Many teachers believe that midterms encourage  
  since a student must study a large amount of content to prepare. To do this, students may create flashcards, study with friends, and work through a study guide.


Are Midterms a Good Measurement?

One of the risks with midterms, however, is that many students don’t have great study skills, so they can’t adequately prepare for a midterm. This is what is occurring when a student crams for their tests the week before.

Another problem with the midterm season is that students are preparing for more than one assessment (they could be studying for four to five at a single time!). This creates a heavy stress load for a student, and often they will have a hard time retaining the information in a way that will make it accessible during testing.

Nevertheless, students are still expected to take midterms, and some times they will fail despite their studying efforts, so let’s review some of the best tips for overcoming midterm grade disappointment. 


Tips for Overcoming Midterm Grade Disappointment

When you earn an unsatisfactory grade, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of being angry and sad about it. But, since the grade is posted, there is not much you can do to change it, so it’s crucial to cope with the disappointment productively before moving on.

Much like the stages of grief, you will find that your disappointment ebbs and flows. Some moments will feel easier than others.

Here are the most useful tips for overcoming midterm grade disappointment.


Be Mad

Allow yourself to feel angry, sad, frustrated, and confused. Suppressing those feelings will be less productive (and you will see them pop up in other parts of your life).

Disappointment is a real feeling. It’s okay to validate those feelings. When you get a disappointing midterm grade, it’s easy to feel like you have to put on a happy face and move forward. 

After investing the time and energy into studying for the exam, it’s natural to be sad if the grade isn’t what you had hope. Allow yourself the space to be sad before moving on.


Avoid If-Then Thinking

“If I would’ve have studied more, then I would have gotten a better grade.”

“If I were a better student, then I would be like more by my friends.”

“If I had just gone to bed earlier that night, then I would’ve gotten the A.”

If-then statements have a place in science and math, but not in reconciling a disappointing midterm grade. 

Are the statements above accurate? Maybe, but probably not. The fact is, each day presents a series of different outcomes, and most of it is out of our control. Let’s say you got a good night’s sleep, but then driving to school, you got a ticket. If this happened, then you would have a different thought, “If I wouldn’t have gotten a ticket, then I would’ve been less stressed.”

See how there is always a hypothetical?

This type of thinking isn’t productive and should be avoided. In actuality, your worth isn’t determined by a number on a test anyway. When you get a disappointing midterm grade, remember: you are a good person, good friend, smart, hardworking, and this one crappy test grade is a chance to learn and grow, but not break you. 


Look at Options

When you experience midterm grade disappointment, you must first cope with the news, and next, you should look at your options.

The first is talking with your teacher about any opportunities to raise the grade. For younger students, this might include extra credit, retaking the test, or test corrections.

For college students, this will be planning on how to come back from the score by outperforming the score on future tests and assignments. 

Discuss your feelings with your teacher. They may have valuable advice to help you prepare for your next exam. Plus, it’s helpful to talk with your teacher to let them know that you are invested in your education, and a low grade matters to you.

For higher-level courses, this might also include assessing if you have picked a major that fits with your personality. Do you love art and history? Are you more logical and scientific? Your major should be something you’re passionate about that you want to do well in.

If it’s not, maybe it’s time to look at changing your major or taking a short break to figure out your next steps.


Step Back

Next, you must give yourself permission to step back and take some time for self-care. Remember, I mentioned that midterm season usually means that you have more than one test at a time? Midterm testing season is stressful! You have most likely just poured every last ounce of yourself into your tests, and deserve a little break. 

Take a weekend and do something that makes you relax. This could include catching up with friends, reading a book (that doesn’t have to do with school!), visiting family, cooking a good meal, or even going for a long run. 

How do you unwind? Take a day or two and refill your tank. This will help clear your mind and overcome the burn out that you’re most likely feeling after a disappointing midterm grade.


Dive In

The final step in overcoming midterm grade disappointment is to dive back into your work. You have taken the time to cope, in order to move forward, you have to resolve that it’s time to move forward. 

Dive back into your schoolwork, talk with your professors, and move forward. Remember, disappointing midterm grades do not define you. They suck, but they most likely will not change the course of your life.

Take the time to be mad, take care of yourself, and move forward, better than before.


Preparing for the Future

You’ve taken the midterm, gotten the grade back, and wish that you could have scored better. Look, it happens. Students every year, invest their time and energy into their assessments and come out of them with a failing grade. The comforting news is that if you have failed your midterms, you’re in good company. My celebrities have also experienced failure, including:

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from the USC School of Cinematic Arts twice.
  • Albert Einstein’s teachers believed he was mentally disabled.
  • Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

People experience failure each day, and how we cope with it is more defining than the grade itself.


Create a Game Plan to Avoid Midterm Grade Disappointment in the Future

If you are ready to move forward from your midterm grade disappointment, here are a few tips to prepare for your final exam and beyond:

  • Begin studying for the exam sooner than you think. You could even begin creating flashcards as soon as you take your first test. Pull out important information, and review those flashcards a couple of times a week. Once your teacher provides a study guide, you can adjust your studying to accommodate the resource. This way, you won’t have as much content to review since you’ve already been preparing.
  • Form a study group. If you choose to go this route, make sure to find a group that has similar goals as you to avoid a group that wants to socialize.
  • Meet with your teacher before the exam. During this meeting, bring any concerns you have up. You should also talk about what study methods you can use to effectively prepare.
  • Invest in a resource that will help you get confident in the content. ArgoPrep has an entire library filled with workbooks that will help you learn the material and score higher on assessments.

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Midterm Grade Disappointment is Real

Disappointing midterm grades are a great unifier. Everybody has experienced before, and you are in good company with some of history’s brightest thinkers. Even though misery loves company, knowing the failures of other people doesn’t make your disappointment sting any less, does it? 

When you receive a disappointing midterm grade, take time to take care of yourself. Avoid if-then thinking, talk with your teachers, and then take a short break. Once you have taken a couple of days to recharge, dive back into your work with a stronger resolve.

Of course, it’s key that you also plan for the future. Now that you have felt the disappointment create a game plan to be better next time. Communicate clearly with your professors and look towards the future. 

Consider adding a supplemental resource like ArgoPrep to increase your comprehension.

It’s natural to experience midterm grade disappointment, but make sure that you have the skills to move forward and overcome it! What are your best strategies for overcoming midterm grade disappointment? Let us know in the comments below!


Final Note About Midterm Grade Disappointment

Students invest a lot of time, energy, and money into their education. Midterm grade disappointment can often feel like too heavy of a burden to bear. If you find that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or even suicide because of your grades, seek out professional help. 

All colleges have a counseling service available to students, use the resource! You can also talk with friends, family members, or other trusted adults. 

If you have an immediate need, please reach out to the  

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