Got a Bad Grade in Nursing School? Do These 3 Things.

If you have received a bad grade from an assignment or exam, your first reaction may be panic, distress, or even tears. I have been there before! I KNOW that feeling all too well, and I’m here to tell you it DOES get better. I’m also here to get you through this roller coaster journey of nursing school. After having a moment to let go of those emotions, the next thought might be, “what now?” “What are the steps I am going to implement to ensure this does NOT happen again?” No worries, I’ve got you! 

  1. Reach out to the Professor (s) via email and ask for an office hour/Zoom call if appropriate. Your Professor (s) are most likely the faculty writing the exam questions and inputting your grade. Building a relationship with your Professor (s) can only be beneficial, as you demonstrate your diligence and willingness to improve your current situation. I often see students flooding nursing student forum pages asking others for their study guides on an exam they just failed. Discussing your shortcomings and study strategies with your Professor(s) is more likely to ensure success than asking people from other programs/with other Professor(s) for their notes. Even if you do not have the most “welcoming” perception of this Professor or have ill feelings towards this Professor- STILL reach out to them. Use this opportunity to set pride aside and realize you must contact the Professor (s) for help on the material they taught for their exam.  
  1. After reviewing your exam and identifying incorrect answers, go back into your notes, and find the material. Did you just not review the PowerPoints enough? (Four pass-throughs of the information is my magic number). Was the Professor often referencing reading material that you did not have down on your notes? Identify where in the textbook, the Professor pulled that information from and add that into your notes. If you’re seeing a pattern of the Professor pulling questions from the “nursing interventions” of disease processes- this is probably something to make a better note of when studying. Also, writing a list of topics from the material you missed can help you see a recurring theme. For example, if most of your missed questions were from the Nephrology lecture, you can direct your questions to that lecturer. 
  1. Utilize your classmates. Make sure to have a good rapport with your classmates. It is always great to have contact information from multiple people within your cohort, whether it is to grab a coffee, study together, or ask for advice. Recognize those students/friends that performed well. Ask those friends how they found success. What were their study strategies? I used to be very prideful, wanting to be perceived by others that I was always doing well in classes and all assignments. However, once I humbled myself and reached out to classmates, I gained more knowledge and in a quicker time rather than holding on to my pride. Remember, most of your friends are willing to help you. More people within your cohort wish success for others than people who have ill wishes for others.

All in all, take everything with a grain of salt. Find your balance. Consider the timeline you have available. Do you have two weeks to retest, two months, or two days? First and foremost, strategize YOUR study plan and set goals for what you wish to attain before a particular hour or before the end of the day. The essential thing to realize after receiving an unsatisfactory grade is the need to pivot. Above were some steps listed that can help strategize an overall game plan to achieve success the next time!

Lastly, remember an exam score or assignment outcome does NOT determine your worth or predict the type of nurse you will be. Your perseverance and ability to overcome adversity is what builds character and a great nurse. 

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