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Bounce Back From a Bad Paper Grade

Nothing’s more frustrating than getting a bad grade on a paper, especially if you thought you nailed it until you saw the offending mark.

But if you get a bad grade on a paper, there’s no need to write off the class itself—you can get your overall grade back up with a better performance on the next assignment. Try the tips here to help you bounce back from that bad grade!



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1. Don’t Panic

Remember: One bad grade doesn’t define you. It can be difficult to keep a level head after you receive an unfortunate mark, but it’s important to try your best. Take a minute to be upset, and feel free to vent to a friend or family member. However, make sure to take time to cool down so you don’t end up blowing up at your professor.

Try to use that frustration as motivation to do better. Below are a few strategies you can use.

2. Read Over the Comments

If your professor or teaching assistant left detailed comments on your paper, don’t ignore them. Read through all of the suggestions carefully so you can get an idea of what needs to be improved. Use those remarks to inform your future writing, and analyze whether there’s a common theme among all of your mistakes.

2. Talk to Your Professor

Getting a bad mark on a paper can be frustrating, but you shouldn’t take out those frustrations on your teacher. Take the time to talk to your professor and discuss what you did right, what you did wrong, and how you can improve. For subsequent essays, you could meet with your professor or a teaching assistant in advance to come up with a game plan. If you’re intimidated to speak with your professor, see if your college has a writing center. A writing center’s main purpose is to effectively help you work on your writing and papers.

3. Reflect Upon the Situation

Think back to when you initially wrote the paper, and figure out what went wrong. Did you spend an adequate amount of time on the essay? Did you try writing your paper with the TV blaring? Reflect upon how you ended up writing the essay you wrote, and try to figure out what you can do to improve the writing process.

4. Get Some Perspective

For a student who did especially well in high school, a C+ on a research paper might seem like a unsurmountable disappointment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a C is average. Ask your professor if there’s a curve for the class.

5. Have a Friend Read Over the Next Paper

While you should trust your own instincts when it comes to paper writing, it’s also helpful to have a pal in your class read over your paper before giving it to your professor for review. If you have a friend who did well on the paper you bombed, ask them if you can read over what they wrote to get a better sense of what your professor is looking for.

6. Pay Mind to Spelling and Grammar

Although spelling and grammar may seem relatively unimportant, they can make a big difference when it comes to your final paper grade. For your next paper, make sure to carefully comb through the essay, and make sure to at least run it through spell check before sending it off.


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