So you “bombed” your first test…

Let me set the scene for you: I have been a straight-A student since I was in kindergarten. In high school I took all AP and honors classes, while juggling numerous clubs and sports, and maintaining a social life. The hardest I ever studied was for my AP exams and that usually consisted of me spending the entire day before the test cramming at a coffee shop. Schoolwork has always come easily to me, so when I went to Bama Bound the summer before freshman year I didn’t think twice about signing up for Honors Biology. A few days before the first test I made some flashcards—because I was in college now and wanted to start preparing “early” for my exams, and when I took the test I felt fine about it. I felt fine at least until I calculated my grade a few days later. I had failed my first test of college—and I mean FAILED. I immediately panicked wondering what I could have possibly done wrong. I went to all the class meetings, I did all the homework and readings, and I even began to study a few days in advance! After a night of crying to my parents over Facetime and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream, I decided that all I could do was try harder next time.

Looking back on this a year later I have learned a lot about what it takes to make it in college and I realize that I made two key mistakes. My first problem was that I thought I could pass my test alone. In high school I was never big on group work, preferring instead to get things done by myself, and because I had never struggled in a class before, I wasn’t used to asking for help. Both of those attitudes had to change quickly for me to be successful in my college classes. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so one of the best things you can do is form a study group where everyone can help each other out. Another great resource is your professor’s office hours. With large class sizes,  it is easy to become just a number, but if you reach out to your professor they will be more willing to meet you halfway. Plus, you could meet a great mentor along the way!

My second mistake had a lot to do with scheduling. With my newfound freedom, I found it a lot easier to spend my days socializing and exploring Tuscaloosa with my new friends, rather than studying the biology of a cell. In college you don’t have the same strict school schedule to adhere to like in high school, so it is up to you to plan out your time wisely. I suggest buying an hourly planner and writing down everything in your day! If you block out a few hours a day to focus on school work you will be much more efficient than if you have to pull an all-nighter the day before your exam. There is plenty of time for school and fun in college, it’s just a matter of creating a schedule that balances them well.

At the end of the day a bad grade on your first test isn’t going to be the end of the world, but it should be a wakeup call that something has to change. So keep your head up, grab your study supplies, and hit the books! You can do this!

Roll Tide,

Carlyle Ascik

Contributor for Campus Life