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How to Rebound From Poor Results | Build Success From Failure

Everybody fails some time, the hard thing is not letting that wreak havoc on your future successes. In this article, we're going to discuss how to rebound from poor results so your failures will lead to future successes!

So, you’ve received a disappointing result and now you’re wondering what you did to deserve it, fearing that this is the benchmark for the rest of your high school career. It’s not ideal, but we’ve all been there at some point, so let’s talk about how we can get back from a failure.


How to rebound from poor results and turn failure into success

Before we begin though, let’s just remind ourselves that feeling disappointed is normal. It’s okay to sob and unload to your family, friends and your-unsuspecting-teacher-who-happened-to-ask-how-are-you. It shows that you care, you’re human, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to suppress your emotions. Sure, we are going to try to get you back on track as soon as possible, but be kind to yourself and don’t blame yourself for not springing back without a care in the world.

In this article, we’ll discuss:


Why poor results are not the end of the world

While it would be nice if everything worked out perfectly all the time, we just have to accept the reality that it probably won’t. School is hands down the best time to fail and make mistakes because you can easily fall back on the excuse that you are still work-in-progress as a child/young adult. Excuses aside, you also have a huge support network of teachers, counsellors, family and friends to help you navigate everything there is to student-life.

There are so many people who care about you and would be flattered if you confided in them for help.

Why we need to look positively at failure

Your results are not an indicator of your personal character, but rather there to let you know what works and what you could improve for next time.

It’s important to look at failure positively to learn from it and appreciate the constructive criticism it holds.

This can be hard to accept when you’ve poured all your love and dedication something that you’ve submitted and eagerly waited for the results, only to receive feedback that basically feels like a berating. You’ve probably heard people say that high school exams mean nothing and that you’ll never remember what you got in your Year 11 Maths test. It’s partly true in the fact that nothing monumental ever really came from one bad school exam result, but in saying that, some Maths tests are just never forgotten. And that’s okay because if that serves as a reminder to never get complacent for an exam, so be it!

In short, failure never feels good, but there are ways to learn from and come back better each failure. These are such strategies:


Forgive yourself

No, you can’t diagnose yourself with stupidity because you mistinterpreted the question or had a mindblank. That’s not productive. Take responsibility for your mistake, recognise you are an individual who is always learning, and forgive yourself. You owe yourself respect and understanding, and a constructive approach will help you develop and improve.


Remind yourself why you are trying

Considering that you have made it this far, there must be something motivating you to pursue academic success. Don’t lose focus of your end game and reconnect with the passion that drives you — whether it be a dream career, pure interest or a lifetyle.


Rest up to work successfully

Before you jump to critically self-reflect and depreciate yourself, take a day or two to switch off and regain composure. Often our immediate reactions to poor results can be quite intense and irrational, so you will need time to return to your normal self. It can be easy to neglect your health when dealing with such disappointment. So, you have to make a point to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, eat 3 meals a day, and keep up with your exercise regime.

Matrix student Nia smiling in front of yellow classroom as she rebounds from poor results

Looking after yourself is crucial, because your body will not respond to your external demands, if you haven’t already satisfied its basic needs.While Matrix student Nia Worthington admits she can be tempted to revert to bad habits during stressful time, she emphasises the importance of taking care of yourself to prevent a burn-out.

You can find more of Nia’s tips to stay healthy and organised here.

Make a realistic and practical plan to improve

Half of the battle is developing resilience, and you will gain that gradually over your life. At this present moment though, the best thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and set yourself up to not make the same ones.

If you want different results, you need to try a different method

So, with that in mind, let’s look at how to figure out that new approach!

How to rebound from poor results – Step-by-step

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how you can use your poor results to enact a new and improved study method:

  1. Reflect
  2. Identify actionable tasks to target your weaknesses
  3. Make time to complete these tasks
  4. Be proud of yourself

Step 1: Reflect

Focus on asking yourself logical questions to identify the root of this poor result.

Be honest with yourself — there’s no one else judging.

Here are some examples that you might find relevant:

  • Did you get sufficient sleep the night before?
  • Did you do enough practice past papers?
  • Are you taking more units than you can handle?
  • Could you have utilised your teachers more to strengthen your understanding?
  • Were you too anxious to focus?
  • Do you have an efficient study routine in place?

Matrix student Sherryn smiling in front of red classroom as she rebounds from poor results

Sherryn’s story

Matrix Alumnus Sherryn Hu found it effective to regularly self-reflect and identify improvements she could make to her study routine. This involved answering questions such as:

  • What am I doing well?
  • What needs to improve?
  • What are some key topic areas that need revision?
  • Do I need to make changes to my study habits for this subject?
How to rebound from failure by reflecting on Chemistry performance

Sherryn’s reflection for Chemistry to improve her results in the lead up to her Trial exam

You can find Sherryn’s full self-reflection process here.

Remember, results are an indication of your performance for a given assessment, not a measure of your self-worth. There’s no reason to doubt that you can do better next time.


Step 2: Identify actionable tasks to target your weaknesses

Depending on what you identified your downfall to be, your actionable tasks will be vastly different. Here are some examples:

Insufficient sleepEstablish a strict regular bedtime and wake-up time with an app or alarms. Minimise naps if that’s what is throwing off your sleep schedule.
Not enough practice under timed conditionsStart practising with past papers early and progressively; i.e. only complete a couple of questions at a time and/or do questions open book without timed conditions, then open book with timed conditions and finally closed book with timed conditions.
Workload is unrealisticDo Matrix holiday courses to lessen your workload during the term. If this isn’t sufficient, you may need to consider taking less subjects or compromising with extracurricular commitments.
Long responses do not sufficiently address the questionDraft practise responses to past papers and get feedback by booking a Matrix workshop or asking your Matrix teacher.
Anxiety lowering concentrationReach out to a trusted adult or your school counsellor. They have a lot of experience with dealing these sort of issues, so they can offer support. Matrix student Ayushma Budhathoki also shares some helpful strategies for overcoming anxiety and self-doubt here.
ProcrastinationImplement a study rhythm. This article explains exactly why you need a weekly rhythm and how you can get one.

While you are aiming to target your weaknesses, make sure you are still identifying actionable tasks that you can do to maintain your subject strengths.

Step 3: Make time to complete these tasks

Most of these tasks will need to be completed on a weekly basis at least to be effective. You are committed to improving from your past results, so make sure to integrate this into your study routine. Prioritising tasks can get difficult at the best of times, but this article ‘How to Create a Study Plan that Works’ breaks that down into simple steps.

1 = The task is important and urgent and therefore it must be completed now.

2 = The task is important but not urgent and therefore it must be scheduled to be completed soon.

3 = The task is not important but urgent and therefore it can be done later as it has little impact to your academic goals.

4 = The task is not important and not urgent and therefore it can be ignored until its importance and urgency changes. These are considered time-wasting activities.

In summary, students should be spending most of their time completing tasks that fall into square (1) and (2). At the same time though, this is just a guide. If there’s someone desperately waiting on your email reply and it would literally take you thirty seconds to respond, do the logical thing. And also, for that matter, your assignment due in two weeks isn’t an excuse to not change the toilet roll.

Step 4: Be proud of yourself

Experiencing failure in any form is never easy, no matter how old you get! The fact that you are using your poor exam results as a learning experience, and taking steps to do better next time, is a strong display of resilience and determination. With that attitude, you can be sure to succeed.

Making changes to your study routine is the first step to a result you can be proud of, so know that you are on the right track already.

If you are ever unsure or need extra help, don’t be afraid to ask your school and Matrix teachers for help.

All the best!


Start next term the right way with Matrix Holiday Courses

Use the holidays to get ahead by learning a whole module in 5 days (Year 11) or 9 days (Year 12) with Matrix Holiday Courses. Book a free trial lesson.

Written by Amanda Shi

Amanda Shi is a graduate of James Ruse High School and is a digital marketing intern with Matrix Education. She hopes to be studying Dentistry at the University of Sydney in 2021.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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