Can you make a comeback after bad midterms, half yearlies, assignments?

The answer is yes! Personally, there have been so many times in my life where I’ve gotten scores that I’ve been disappointed with- including failing one of my year 12 Maths Methods assessments. There’s no reason why you cannot drastically improve your scores after doing poorly in other assessments. This applies to school and university alike.

So the real question is: how?

What to do when you get a bad score

If you get a bad score, it’s fine to be disappointed and feel upset about it. No one feels good about doing poorly. What’s most important is what you do with that score. You can either let it get the best of you and give up on what you’re doing, or let it be a tool to help you do better next time.


Take some deep breaths. For me, my first instinct to a bad score is to catastrophise it (blow it out of proportion). Sometimes I tell myself that this is the end and I’ll never be able to recover my grades. Try and put this score in the context of your whole life and the whole subject. At the end of the day, a failed test, or even a failed subject, is not the end of the world. There’s always opportunities to make up marks elsewhere or take the subject again.

Read it

It can be very tempting to just through that test in the trash- but don’t! Getting any assessment back is super valuable because you can see what you did wrong. You want to figure out why you did badly on this assessment and work on it for next time. Sometimes teachers will write comments and give explicit feedback, but otherwise, you should definitely ask them for it.

Understand it

The next part is understanding where you went wrong. Reading and seeing your answers/the correct answers is one thing, but you really need to get a hold of what went wrong and be able to answer the question correctly next time. If it’s something like maths, for example, you’re going to want to know exactly how you got the wrong answer and how you get the right one!

Don’t see your score as it is but in conjunction with everything around it. Consider how well everyone else did and scaling. Say you got 20/60 but the average was 15/60, you’ve actually done quite well as everyone else also found it very challenging.

Make a plan

Something I like to do is make a plan and set goals for my next assessments. Goals need to be challenging, yet achievable. I find out how much my assessment is worth and put it in the context of my entire grade. I do the maths to help me find out what scores I should be aiming for in my next assessments in order to reach my goals. This helps me put into perspective how hard I should be working and how I should be prioritising.

Assessments are usually not worth as much as final exams and can be a relatively small percentage. But don’t worry, I’ve scored badly on 40% assessments and got a final score I was really happy with, so even if it’s worth ‘a lot’, don’t worry!

Adding the math here may be a little unnecessary but if you want to know how I work it out, leave me a comment!

Work on it

It’s a good idea to create a list of topics that you seem to particularly be struggling with. It could even be things like time management during tests, as opposed to topics on the subject. The great thing about getting your results back is that you know exactly where your weaknesses are and are able to target them specifically.

You might want to ask your teacher, lecturer, tutor or homeroom teacher how you can best improve. They may be the ones marking your assessments so they’re the best people to ask!

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation to alleviate stress is to work hard at your studies until you feel confident in the content and reassured that you’ll be able to do your best. Doing the best that we can is really all that we can do. I feel like then, even if it doesn’t go well, I can say that I put in 100% and there was nothing more I could do.


Although it’s disheartening to receive a bad score during the year, it’s not the end of the world. I hope that this post has reassured you that it’s possible and achievable to come back after a not-so-good score. Don’t dwell on it too much, but use it to motivate you to work harder and do better next time.

Work hard and do your best! Good luck.