On No .. I Think I Failed!

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You seemed so confident going into the exam and I thought you really knew your stuff. What gives you the impression you failed?

Hey everybody. Andre, back in the Coach’s Hangout. This is probably the only time you are ever getting hear me say this, like ever! “If you have not written your exam yet, stop watching this video.”

Now I know that comment is like a wet paint sign, where it takes everything within you not to check, but try. Right now your job is to study smart, work hard, even over-prepare and go into the exam feeling confident. I want you to shoot for the stars and never have to watch this video. This video is for those of you that have written your exam, are waiting for your result, and think it went so badly that you failed. What I have to say may give you a little hope and a little less stress during your waiting period.

In this blog post and video, I want to talk about why your mark may surprise you in a positive way; and even if you do happen to fail, how to deal with it effectively. Now I’ve been a study coach for over 20 years across various industries and this applies to pretty much any multiple-choice exam you can take. I want to reenact a Zoom or phone call I have had with countless students over the years. It goes something like this.

“Hey, Coach Andre. Sorry to request an urgency request on a Saturday but I wrote my exam and I think I failed. No way. Who am I kidding? I definitely failed!”

Really? You seemed so confident going into the exam and I thought you really knew your stuff. What gives you the impression you failed? How many questions do you think you got right?

“Well, I tried to keep track through the exam and I’m only confident I got about 40% right. Not even half and nowhere near the required 60%.”

Okay. So let’s think through the math. We’ll put 40 questions in the correct column. What about the other 60? Could you narrow down the answers at all?

“Of course. Most of those questions I could narrow it down to about two answer choices.”

Okay. So if you accurately narrow questions down to two possible answers, it then becomes like a true/false question and statistically you should get half right. Did you do that? Did you then randomly guess?

“Of course not. There was usually something pulling me towards the answer I selected.”

Okay. So we already got 40 in the correct column. And if you get half and possibly more of the other 60 questions right that’s another 30 plus marks. And 40 plus 30 equals 70. For most multiple choice exams, Marina, that’s a solid pass.

“Well thanks, Coach Andre. I never thought of it that way and I feel a lot better now.”

You’re welcome. Look, you worked really hard. Reward yourself with a mental break from studying. Whatever the result, we’ll go from there. Trust me, you got this.

While that was a mock Zoom call, it is true that students tend to be hard on themselves. When they make comments like they’re only confident about X number of questions, that is only their perception after a stressful experience. Let’s face it, very few people enjoy writing exams. Students are more likely to remember concepts that they really struggled with because that is where they spend a lot of time. They tend to forget all the questions they answered confidently, often in a matter of seconds. This can get the student’s mind spiraling to the point that they think a failing result is definitely in their future. And a lot of times they are pleasantly surprised.

Look, I know it’s easier said than done, but if you’re waiting for an exam result, try putting it out of your mind and reward yourself with a mental break. Now, if you did happen to fail, but came reasonably close, book your exam for two to three weeks away. Do not make the mistake of taking a little break, which often turns into six months or more and when you finally get back to studying, or should I say, if you get back to studying, you’ll have forgotten a ton of material and it’s as though you are starting all over again.

Thanks for dropping by the Coach’s Hangout. Let me know what you think about this video in the comment section below. And if you like this video, please like and subscribe. All this helps with algorithms and is greatly appreciated. Good luck on your pending and future exam results. And remember, if you always shoot for the stars, you’ll never shoot yourself in the foot.