June 4, 2018
It’s happened to most of us at some point – feeling bad after an exam that could have gone so much better. But you’d be surprised just how wrong your gut feeling might be. There’s no telling how you’ve done until results day and here’s how to deal with the immediate feelings.

1. Unwind and Relax

After sitting a bad exam, it’s fair to say that you will be very stressed and agitated. It’s important to distract yourself.

Play a game, play your favourite sport, take a few quizzes, whatever it takes. Distract yourself from this exam and unwind.

You deserve some form of fun to get over this mood. Drowning yourself in revision for the next exam straight after sitting a bad one is not good for you.

It is advised that you unwind first and then start prep so as to not burn out.

We have some fun quizzes that can help you unwind here.

2. Compose Your Thoughts

There’s nothing worse than letting one bad exam impact your mental health. You’ve worked too hard to allow this bad exam throw you.

Take some time to compose your thoughts and understand where you might have gone wrong.

It’s very easy for our mental health to take a dip during exam season – learn how best to look after it with our blog post here.

3. Get Refocused

I can’t stress this enough. You need to bounce back after a bad exam, especially if you have another one coming up.

Think of the bad exam as a learning experience. What was the main issue you had?

  • Was it a gap in your knowledge?
  • Was it your exam technique?
  • Was it the timing?

Once you know why it was a bad exam, you can use this to prepare for your next exam. View it as a learning curve.


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4. Remember Why You Sat through that Bad Exam

Whether it’s A2 Maths or EU Law, you sat through that exam to bring you one step closer to your dreams. You haven’t been devoting your time to preparation for nothing.

After you walk out of a bad exam, remind yourself of where you want to be. Do you want to be a budding human rights advocate? Do you want your own office at a City firm?

You’re here because you want to be a solicitor or barrister. All legal professionals have gone through the same trials and tribulations so you’re not alone.

After sitting a bad exam, remind yourself of why you sat in that exam room. It’s easy to lose sight of your dreams and think it’s all over. In reality, it’s not.

5. Talk to Someone

Don’t bottle up how you feel; you’ll only work yourself up more.

I definitely heard this being said whilst at school. And it’s true. You may think that only you had a bad exam but chances are you’re not alone.

Talk to friends and see if they felt the same. Talk to your parents and let them know how you’re feeling. Most importantly, talk to your teachers and ask for help if it’s relevant.

Sometimes we think we are ready for an exam but this is not always the case. It might take a bad exam to put this into perspective.

By talking to a teacher, you might just be reassured that you did better than you thought. Alternatively, you might know what the next steps to take are.

6. Were There Extenuating Circumstances?

After sitting a bad exam ask yourself this:

Was there something that had an impact on my performance?

If so, you need to let someone know straight afterwards.

Exam boards typically have deadlines to take extenuating circumstance requests in. If you require the statement of a medical professional or authority, get this sorted.

Just because you’ve had a bad exam, it doesn’t always mean it’s your fault. Here are examples of extenuating circumstances:

  • A health-related issue, whether physical or mental;
  • Emergency surgery before your exam;
  • The death of a close family member;
  • Significant disturbance during the exam.

So, if you’ve just sat a bad exam and you think there might be an external reason for it, speak up straight after.


I hope you’ve found this insightful and reassuring. It’s important to know that anyone can have a bad exam. How you deal with it will determine your future, not that exam.

Want more advice for sitting exams? Read these next:


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