How to Start at the Bottom and End Up Somewhere in the Middle

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Don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to divulge the biggest secret since Hannah Montana pulled off her wig: failing an exam and still pulling off an A (or maybe just a B) in any class you choose. This feat is accomplished through two major steps. The first step is easy: fail the exam. The second one is a bit more difficult: don’t fail anymore. If failure doesn’t come as naturally to you as it does to me for some reason, I think you may find that this is NOT the article for you.

Phase I: Failure

1. Sign up for a class that you could have placed out of with AP scores, but didn’t because, honestly, you’re no good at the subject. An example of such a course could perhaps be calculus.

2. Make sure the class is at 9 a.m. so that you will have ample opportunity to sleep in and miss material.

3. Another important factor is a language barrier. There are few things that make learning math more difficult than a professor who speaks primarily French.

4. Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to study for the exam. The best case scenario is that you show up to class unaware any exam is about to take place. But let’s not get your hopes up too high.

5. Take the exam. Convince yourself you did okay enough and that your expensive high school education did in fact prepare you to take a course you’ve already taken.

6. Fail the exam. (Anything below a 65 is ideal.)

Phase II: Comeback

1. Shake it off. The most important step in coming back from a failure is letting go of it. Put the exam away for a few days and forget it ever happened. Get ice cream with your friends and watch a movie like you would before the big F. Be sure not to let your self-esteem take a hit after the initial failure; this will be detrimental to your epic climb back to mediocrity.

2. Change your habits. Be sure that sometime after class, you take a few minutes to look over your notes (oh yeah, you have to start taking notes). Detailed notes are no good if left untouched in your book. Your focus will have to extend the 50-minute time period.

3. Do your homework. But don’t hand it in if you don’t understand what you did. Even if your homework comes from a session with a tutor (pro tip: the tutoring center is the bomb), don’t hand it in unless you are able to explain how you came to every answer. Even if the answers are wrong, if the work you are handing in is honest, you’ll be able to receive honest feedback, which will ultimately allow you perform well on your own during your next exam.

4. Meet with your professor. Professors love to get to know their students. Especially in math and science classes, where scales on exams and final grades are common, professors love to see effort from their students. An increase in effort almost always guarantees improvement in performance, but it never hurts to bring your extra effort to your professor’s attention.

5. Take out that old exam and figure out what went wrong. Identifying your mistakes on past tests and homework is a great way to anticipate material on final exams, a key determinant in your final grade.

6. The final step is to achieve (or at least get a B).

So, thank me later but I’ll say you’re welcome right now. Say goodbye to failure and hello to mediocrity.

Leah Lombardi is a sophomore studying English and Communications at Boston College. Her favorite fall trend is the tennis skort.

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