What to do if you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped last year

University is defined heavily by your grades and can shape your future based on the numbers on your graduation certificate. It can be very upsetting to put a lot of effort in and still be rewarded with disappointing grades.

If you’re reading this we’re on the same boat here – I looked at my results sheet back in July and was relieved that I didn’t have to go back for the August resits but disappointed at the little numbers on the page. A rush of thoughts went through my mind from blaming the lecturers, ridiculous exam questions and unfair marking in my essays but really, I was trying my best not to blame myself. The first hurdle in succeeding rather than being discouraged is accepting what has happened, and working out how to avoid making the same mistakes this year!

So, the first piece of advice I took on was, looking over my old essay feedback – I wrote a list of things that kept popping up over and over again. I looked at the examiners reports and just put together a list of things I needed to work on. This is pretty much the only feedback we’re likely to get at university, so it’s time to take note of our shortcomings.

Then it was suggested to make use of the lecturer’s office hours – I remember as a fresher thinking ‘who would go to those’ but I found all the high achieving students make the most of it. They will sit for ages going over essay plans until they get those top grades. The same goes with seminars, majority of people who attend all seminars in the year will leave with a 2:1 or 1st. Even if I don’t understand things from readings or seminars, it is worth asking or even just firing off an email to relevant lecturers rather than ignoring the issue because you’re too embarrassed to ask.

I have also booked myself into workshops run by the study skills department, aimed specifically at essay writing and exam preparations. I didn’t know the university offered those courses but checking my emails properly surprised me by showing how much the university actually has to offer!

There are so many ways we can help ourselves to get the best grades, we just have to make use of all the resources available to us and not give up hope. Not doing as well as you wanted last year is no reason to bring your motivation down. Look at it as a chance to be proactive and learn from your mistakes!

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