The last few weeks, at least for me and my peers, have been the first round of exams. And I don’t mean one or two. I mean four to five in the last two weeks. As my professor said, “it’s our finals week practice.” But it is extremely stressful to have back to back exams. I argue, however, the worst part of all of these exams is coping with the grade.

I honestly had it easy with three exams in one week compared to my friends who had multiple exams on the same day. My new tactic I tried out for this round of exams was to remain calm. I studied as much as I could and made sure to space it all out since I had a healthy amount of time between each of them.

In the past, I have noticed that I study better alone. I always end up venting about what I don’t know or goof off in group study sessions. So far, studying alone has really improved my scores (but not my social life), and because of that, I tried it again for my three exams. Changing up my study habits was a gamble, but it made me feel equally confident before all three exams. The studying isn’t the hard part in my book as long as you have found you groove. The hard part is 1) keeping motivation after 2) not beating yourself up if the score was really bad.

I had one good score, one great score, and one terrible score and am currently going through the beating yourself up stage of the exam grief process. Of course, the first reaction for a great score is to celebrate, but I can almost argue that, for me, the celebration does not last as long or hit as hard as feeling so awful when you scored so bad.

I am a good student and the amount of failing test grades I have had and still end up with an A in a class is crazy. But in the moment that I see an F in UNM Learn, I really don’t care about the big picture. Maybe you don’t care as much about the test score or are a super great test taker (which I congratulate and wish I could do the same), but I think almost everyone is a little sad, feels a little dumb, or is a little ashamed of the grade. The bottom line: it gets better.

Some things I do when I get bad scores is email the professor and schedule a meeting to go over new test taking strategies for their class. In my experience, the professor responds better to this because you are already accepting the grade and not blaming them for your poor performance. Next advice: save the exam and rework it while it’s fresh in your brain so the final studying goes more smoothly.

Finally, don’t feel ashamed or discouraged about the grade. Accept it and make it your mission to do better next time (which is much easier said than done). This might be going to office hours every week just to show the professor you are trying, giving yourself more time to study, or changing up your perspective. Everyone I have talked to since coming to UNM has failed at least one exam. We always forget that teachers curve test grades, drop exams, or curve final grades. As long as you stay ahead of the mean, you’re looking at a pretty good grade overall.

I hope you are all in the clear for exams at least for a few weeks! Good luck decompressing and catching up on the little assignments I know I always procrastinate when big exams come around.

Anna