How to Cope with Failing an Exam: 20+ Helpful Tips


Failure happens to the best of us, and coping with failure can be really hard to do. Failing an exam can knock down your confidence, leaving you feeling embarrassed, angry and depressed. It is natural to feel distraught, especially when you have given it your all.

What you need to remember is that failing an exam doesn’t make you any less intelligent or less capable of achieving success in life than those who got better results. It is not the end of the world.

intro how to cope with exam failure
Things you can do to cope with an exam failure

In fact, even the people who history best remembers had to face some setbacks before they tasted success. It’s proof that failure is a natural part of life and learning.

Here are some tips to help you cope with failing an exam quickly and effectively.

  1. You are not alone. Know that everyone has gone through failures. Some may have had worse experiences than you. Accepting your failure will help you grow from it.

    remember that you are not alone to cope with exam failure
    Everyone goes through failure at some point of time
  2. Deal with your emotions. Feel your emotions to cope with failing an exam. Take time to recognize and work through them. If you try to move past your emotions without fully understanding them or try to suppress negative feelings, it will have an adverse effect on your health.
  3. Take responsibility for your failure. When you face failure, your initial reaction might be to blame others or some external factor for your setback. It’s important to understand that while others may have had an impact on the result, your failure is never the sole responsibility of someone else. Until you take personal responsibility for your failure, you will never be able to move forward successfully.
  4. Don’t take it personally. Separate the failure from who you are. Just because you flunked an exam doesn’t mean you are a failure. When you start taking your failure personally, it hurts your self-esteem and self-confidence. Do not let your failure define you.
  5. Tell yourself this is temporary. Remember that failure is fleeting. It is just a stepping stone to success. Remind yourself that this is temporary. Offer hope by telling yourself that you can overcome challenges and achieve success.
  6. Prevent yourself from slipping into depression. It’s natural to feel depressed over a setback, but it should not last for a long time. If you find you’re not eating or sleeping properly, you’re losing or gaining weight, or feeling low all the time, seek help from your doctor.

    avoid depression to cope with exam failure
    Seek help if you are feeling depressed
  7. Identify negative thoughts. When you fail at something, you might have a tendency to beat yourself up and get into negative self-labelling. Try to identify such negative thoughts like ‘I am a loser,’ ‘I don’t think I will be able to come back from this.’ Negative thought patterns can stop you from moving forward.

    Identify negative thoughts to cope with exam failure
    Identify negative thoughts that are stopping you from moving forward
  8. Use positive affirmations. When you notice negative thoughts arising, start questioning them. Ask yourself, ‘Is it true? Does this failure make me a loser?’ Use positive affirmations to help you get past the negative thoughts. Write down positive messages like, ‘This failure brings me closer to success, as I have gained knowledge from this experience,’ or ‘I know I am capable of getting over it.’ Put your notes somewhere easily visible. You can also say the positive affirmations aloud to yourself.
  9. Learn from your failure. Judging yourself harshly won’t help you score better on your next test. When failure occurs, the wisest thing to do is to dissect it and determine the causes. Look at it analytically to cope with failing an exam. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better result? What could you learn from this so that it doesn’t happen again? Learn from your mistakes and move on.
  10. Stop dwelling on it. Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome. On the contrary, it will drive you to slip into an emotional doom and stop you from moving forward. You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. Taking a step forward will help you quickly leave behind the debilitating thoughts and move on with your life.
  11. Let go of what you cannot control. You need to understand that there are certain things that are not in your control. Find the courage to let go of them.
  12. Release the need for approval from others. Often, people fear failure because they are afraid of being judged and losing others’ respect. Be realistic. Don’t let the expectations of people around you bear down on you. Do not give power to other people’s opinions. Pressure to perform can cause unnecessary stress and affect your results. It can damage your self-esteem and confidence, undermining your ability to succeed.
  13. Shift your perspective. It is usually ingrained beliefs and a person’s upbringing that makes you develop a negative attitude about failure. Instead, change your perspective. Look at failure as a stepping stone on the road to success.
  14. Look at inspirational role models. Everyone faces failure at some point in life. When you look at successful people, you just see their success. You don’t usually know the struggles and hardships they might have gone through or the setbacks they faced in the process. Remember, you are not the only person struggling in life. Take inspiration from people who have used failure as a stepping stone to success.
  15. Weigh your options. After your stint with failure, take a step back and weigh your options. Check if there is a possibility that you could retake the exam. If not, use your time preparing yourself for the next test, instead of worrying about the last one. Also, work on other areas that will help you bring your grades up. Explore all the options available to you before making an adverse decision.
  16. Review your study methods. Bad or undesired results means it may be time to take a serious look at your studying techniques. Change your study pattern and concentrate more on areas where you are weak. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or anyone else.
  17. Write a journal. Keep a journal. Write down or reflect on everything that happened – what caused it, what you did wrong, and what you can do about it or could have done instead. The next time you encounter a similar problem, you can refer to your journal. Refrain from blaming or judging yourself, just state the facts.
  18. Talk it out. When you suffer a setback, you might regress into a shell and bottle up all your emotions. Instead, talk it out with your family and friends to cope with failing an exam. They maybe able to lend you a helping hand and show you where you went wrong. Their support will help you get through tough times. You can also find support from students in the same situation through online communities and forums. Remember that failing is not the end of the world. It is one of the many hurdles in your life that you will have to learn to surpass. Don’t let failure stop you from achieving your dreams.
  19. Meditate. Meditation will help you focus on the present and clear your mind. It helps you focus on the positive aspects of your life.
  20. Enjoy simple pleasures. One way to relax and de-stress is to indulge in simple pleasures like taking a walk amidst nature in the early morning, watching the sunrise and sunset, or enjoying reading a book on the beach. These simple things will make you realize that life has got a lot to offer and failure is not the end of the world.
  21. Have fun. Taking a break from the wallowing and all the negative thinking will help you reset your mind and focus on what’s important in life. Hang out with friends who make you feel happy. Be around positive people who are supportive and helpful. Take a trip to a retreat or get out of town with your family. A change in environment will help divert your mind.
  22. Try your hand at something creative. Enroll in a hobby class or learn a new skill. It will help you divert your mind, and learning something new will make you feel confident and boost your self-esteem.

    do something creative to cope with exam failure
    Keep yourself busy by doing something creative
  23. Bounce back. Once you have made peace with your failure and weighed your options, your next step should be to get back into the real world. Focus on the future and think about ways to get it right the next time.
  24. Be thankful. Even during difficult times, treat others with respect. When you respect others, you will end up feeling respected. Thank your family, friends and mentors for their help and support. Your result does not lessen their efforts.
  25. Share your journey with others. Although it may not happen right away, gradually try sharing your story of failure with others. When you find an opportunity, inspire people and give them hope and strength with your story to cope with failing an exam.
  26. Stay ambitious. Don’t give up your hopes and dreams. Over time, your failure will become a distant memory. Some important life lessons are learned the hard way.
    stay ambitious to cope with exam failure
    Keep your spirit high and ambition strong

    Have courage and find strength from overcoming your failure and moving on.


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