Bombed a Test? Use Failure to Understand What You Don’t Know

Bombed a Test? Use Failure to Understand What You Don’t Know


After bombing a test, you may have heard others say ‘Well, I’m just not good at taking exams.” Or you may have said this yourself throughout the years. Often, this is just anxiety speaking—and to ward that off, it is helpful to understand more about your educational experience and the culture of testing. Understanding what you are learning in class and then demonstrating your mastery of it is of course the crux of testing and passing or failing could ultimately make the difference in getting what you want out of life, at the time, which is probably graduating from a grade level, college, or even law school.

Failure Usually Stings at First, But Can Have a Silver Lining

No one likes failing and finding out that you have bombed a test can be one of the worst feelings imaginable—especially in an intense graduate atmosphere. But the most fruitful way to use such an experience is to focus on what went wrong, and forge ahead to turn the situation around and learn that information. But how to do so? If you paid attention in class and thought you understood, but still failed a test, why will it be different next time? Because you are going to switch things up!

Examine your study devices. Obviously, if you just are winging it through exams and hoping for the best, that will never cut it. But most students have a system in place for studying—and this may even be reinforced in study groups. Unfortunately, whatever you are doing may not be working anymore, or at least for the subject you are trying to tackle. If you are currently in law school, and especially in your first year, you may find yourself disappointed with more than one test score! The key is to find a better way of digesting and remembering information.

Examine & Modify Your Study Methods

In law school, you must start with the basics. There isn’t any way around the fact that you must show up and pay close attention in class, clearing your mind so that it is open to the information at hand, and eliminating distractions by putting away electronics. After that, you will be expected to perform enormous amounts of reading. If you don’t seem to be retaining this information for tests, examine how you are studying. Are you briefing all the cases you are reading about with the basic facts, and then making sure you are clear on everything you have read? Make outlines for class, review all the information you expect to go over, participate while you are there or involved online, and then review a lot. After that, review some more!

Old-Fashioned Study Techniques May Still Work Best for You

You may also want to employ a variety of different apps and even old-fashioned flashcards. Ask yourself whether these are the same modes of study you have been employing while still bombing out on tests, however—and if so, it is time to find other avenues. How are you taking notes? If you have been knocking them out on a tablet or other electronic device during class, try writing them out by hand from now on. This has been proven to be more effective for studying in many cases. You may want to speak to your professors if there are test questions you still cannot find the answers to later or need further guidance. Working in a study group can also lend enormous information and support too.

Think about your actual testing habits too. Even though it may be tempting to pull an all-nighter ahead of time, budget out enough study time to get a good night’s sleep. If you are hanging out with others to study, make sure they are as focused as you are! If you are studying with a group of distracted students who would rather chat or party, not only will you waste your time, you may end up being exhausted the next day. Eat a healthy meal before the test, make sure you have access to plenty of water, and try to relax. With the proper amount of studying and self-care beforehand, you should have much greater success.

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