How to Bounce Back From a Poor Midterm Grade

portrait of Dr. Samantha Fecich
by Dr. Samantha Fecich

Published November 10, 2021

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How to Bounce Back From a Poor Midterm Grade

You didn't do as well on your college midterms as you'd hoped. Maybe the midterm exam content didn't exactly match what you studied. Maybe you didn't stick to your study schedule as well as you thought you did.

Either way, you're disappointed. You didn't perform as well as you expected.

However, with the right attitude, a bad grade can be a wake-up call to do better. You can bounce back from a poor midterm grade by taking advantage of a few strategies and tips.

What Are Midterms and Why Are They Important?

Midterm grades provide a snapshot of your academic performance in a particular course. This is all it is — an update of how you're doing in a class. It's a good indicator of your standing so far.

Remember that no matter the outcome of your midterm, you are much more than a grade on a test. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

At the same time, don't simply shove your midterm paper or exam in your folder and call it a day. Make this an opportunity to learn and take steps to bounce back from a poor grade.

4 Tips for Bouncing Back After a Disappointing Midterm

There are several ways to recover from a midterm grade that wasn't so great. Reflect on your grade, ask your professor for help, find others who can give you advice and support, and invest time in improving your study skills.

1. Reflect on Your Grade and the Exam

As far as the content is concerned, what did you do well? Think about the topics and concepts you understood.

On the flip side, what did you not know as well? Which areas need refinement and better understanding? What are you still confused about or not understanding? Are there any themes or areas that you are unsure about or still have questions about after reviewing the content of the exam or paper?

After reflecting on the midterm, examine your study habits and strategies. Ask yourself these questions:

2. Consult Your Professor

Your professor is there to help you! Send your professor an email or consult them during their office hours. Professors want you to succeed in their classes, so work with them on a plan that benefits you.

Professors can help you understand what to go over and how to study for an exam, as well as how to improve your assignments. They can cover specific questions on tests or assignments, review content, and help you get caught up.

When reaching out to your professor, be respectful. Also, take responsibility for things like assignments you haven't turned in, classes you missed, or being behind on assigned readings.

Make sure to include the following in your email to your professor:

Below is an example of an email to a professor discussing grades:

Dear Professor Smith,

My name is Allie, and I am in your 9 a.m. intro to economics class. I noticed that in your class, I'm earning a C+ [your letter grade]. This is not the grade I want to earn by the end of class. Therefore, my plan going forward is to [list the ways you are going to work to improve your grade]. Could we please meet to discuss any other opportunities for me to improve my grade? I am usually available [date and time].

Thank you for your help!

Allie Yamaguchi

3. Get Help From Others

Besides your professor, there are other people available to help you with a course. Don't be afraid to connect with them. Here are a few individuals to consider:

4. Improve Your Study Skills

If you need assistance refining your study skills, your academic advisor can help. Some study strategies you may want to consider include the following:

Your academic advisor can also tell you about any policies and information regarding withdrawing from a class. However, carefully consider the pros and cons before dropping a class. Your academic advisor should be included in that decision-making process.

Remember, midterm grades do not define you. They are merely an indicator of how you're doing in a particular class. You can always improve. Just be sure to ask for help when you need it.

Feature Image: Deepak Sethi / E+ / Getty Images