How to deal with a bad score?

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

huge TOEFL envelope arrives in your mailbox. You rip open the seal, hands shaking and heart racing. There’s your score but you stop breathing:

I got a bad score?!

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From a college entrance exam to a high school test, we’ve all received frustratingly bad marks. It’s easy to let the mark prompt rash actions or lower self-esteem. So as the master of bad marks, I have discovered the best three solutions and the worst three solutions to deal with a bad mark.

Top 3 Solutions

RUSH HOUR, Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, 1998, (c)New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection

RUSH HOUR, Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, 1998, (c)New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection


Reach out to a friend and confide in them. Chances are you will feel better letting out your emotions than withholding it. Once, I received a terrible mark and almost went to accuse the teacher on a personal level. Thanks to the words of wisdom from my friends though, it snapped me out of my anger and motivated me to work harder to prove I am better that mark.

With friends as your best support network, your thoughts on that bad mark will drift away. Perhaps you need a new swimsuit for summer or your gals want to try out fine dining. Whether it be arcade or movies, engaging with your pals is a reassurance that you have a whole group supporting you and chances are definitely that friends can relate. You might even find friends sharing funny stories on their stupid test mistakes.

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Stop sulking in bed and grab a punching bag to let out that steam. If you aren’t a gymmie, play your favourite sport or do something fun like trampolining at Sky Zone Alexandria. Exercise can be as intense as rock climbing or simple like walking your dog. If you feel restless in bed from the thought of that bad mark, what exercise does is that the endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—improve sleep, which in turn relieves stress. Hence, if construction kept you up all night before the day of the exam, throw a good punch and get a good nights sleep after.

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A must to do after receiving that bad mark is to reflect and improve. Why did you receive this low mark? Was procrastination at its finest or was your study approach inefficient? If possible, find out the correct answer sheet, even better with explanations, and pinpoint where the mistakes were. This way on the next time round, your new study methods and exam habits can improve you chances of a high distinction.

Worst 3 Solutions

giphy (10)Long hours in front of the screen

As much as we would love to binge watch the Harry Potter series or Orange is the New Black, excessively watching movies, playing video games or surfing the Internet are temporary fixes with risk factors in the long run, such as Internet addiction disorder (IAD).

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Take drugs, pills or alcohol

Sure we could all do a chill night at the bar during Happy Hour with friends but it’s easy to lose sight of how many shots you’ve taken. As if a bad mark is not good enough, you might find yourself dealing with drugs or pills to ease the pain away. The more you look to drugs, pills or alcohol as your solution to deal with a bad score, the more attached you will get and end up causing more harm to you.

giphy (17)Lash your anger out on others

When something bad happens, it can become responsive to lash out on other people. While your roommate might have played the music too loudly during your study hours, the test was still taken by you after all. Do not let the anger bubbling inside translate into irrational actions such as writing a hate letter to the board or engaging in physical violence on others. Keep calm and carry on.

At the end of the day, a bad score is not the end of the world.

Mistakes are there for us to learn from on wrongdoings and work on our improvements. Don’t seclude yourself because of that one bad mark; there are plenty of chances in the future to improve. Move forward with a clear idea of what you need to do next.

Photo: Thuy Le

Last modified: April 22, 2016

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