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How to handle a disappointing mark

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We’ve all been there. Your marks are released, and you’re excited as you open up the assessment. Then there’s this sinking feeling as you see a score far below what you had hoped for.

Here’s five tips on what to do when you receive a disappointing mark.

1. Take some time to think

Don’t immediately rush to conclusions. Take the time to read through the marking rubric and your tutor’s comments. Reflect on their feedback and consider where you have lost marks and why. After that, put the assessment aside for a few days. Coming back to it with a fresh mind will help you separate your disappointment from the advice and suggestions your tutor may have to offer.

2. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture

Right now, you might feel frustrated, confused or discouraged, but that feeling won’t last forever. This assessment is one of many you will do throughout your studies. Though this mark may affect your grade for that particular unit, it won’t affect your grades for the rest of your units. It may help to consider whether this mark will matter in three days, three weeks, three months or three years.

3. Seek feedback from your tutor

Though it might make you nervous, having a chat with your tutor about your assessment is key to understanding where you went wrong and how you can improve for next time. Make sure you ask your tutor questions if you are confused, and take notes so that you can remember their advice in the future. If needed, your tutor will point you in the right direction of resources to further aid your learning and revision of a particular topic.

4. Reflect on where you could improve

Once you’ve spoken to your tutor, write up a list of reasons why you received that mark. This will help you visualise where you went wrong and help you figure out where to go next. Use this list to decide what topics you need to revise as well as what you should keep in mind when completing your next assessment.

5. If you think your mark is undeserved, you can appeal it

We’re all human. Sometimes tutors make mistakes and miss something in your assessment that would warrant a higher mark. If you feel that your tutor has marked you unfairly or failed to take into account your circumstances, you can always apply for an appeal against your assessment result.

For academic advice and support, reach out to the Guild’s advocacy team Student Assist, who will explain your rights and advise you on how best to resolve the issue.

Receiving a disappointing mark is always tough. If you need a break to clear your head, make sure you take one. Then you can come back feeling refreshed and use this disappointing mark as motivation to strive towards the mark you had hoped for.

Written by creative writing and professional writing student, Abbey Carson.

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