Managing failure

Find support and resources if you have failed an exam or assessment.

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Failing an exam or assessment can come as a shock, or disappointment, and may even feel catastrophic at the time. It’s important to remember that failing at something does not make you a failure - and support is available from the University to help you when things haven’t gone to plan.

Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing, sometimes it can bring unexpected change into our lives. It can also be a useful experience, helping us to reflect, learn and move on from whatever setback has occurred.


Find support from the University

What happens if you fail an exam

Help is available if you don’t achieve the results you need. Read the notes that accompany your exam results to understand what steps you need to take. Remember to access the study skills support that is available, to help you to prepare for any resits that you need to do.

How to access your results

Resits and reassessments

Academic appeals

If you fail an exam or assessment, you may submit an academic appeal against the grade for any module, degree classification or examination result.

Feeling disappointed, shocked or sad that you have failed is not in itself a good reason to appeal. You can only appeal on certain grounds and so you should think carefully about whether you can demonstrate that you meet the grounds of appeal.

An appeal can take up your time and energy, and can be a distraction from you managing the failure and taking positive next steps.

Even where an appeal is successful, the most usual outcome is that your exam or assessment is set aside as ‘Not Assessed’ and you are given another opportunity to sit or resubmit it.

You can seek independent advice from the Student Advice Centre as to whether you have grounds for an appeal.

Academic appeals procedure


Preparing for resit exams/assessments

Support is available from 301 Academic Skills Centre if you need to resit an exam or other form of assessment.

Your previous experiences will provide you with a good starting point and core knowledge. You now know what to expect from the process and there are several steps that you can take to secure your success the second time around.

301 can help you to develop and refine your approach ahead of retaking the assessment: 

Revision

You are likely to already have a set of notes and other materials that you have used for revision ahead of your exam or assessment. 301 can provide guidance and support in how to approach your revision and revising for resits

You may also find it useful to view our resources on note taking and mind mapping. These include a range of approaches, tools and techniques you could apply to your revision. 

Managing your time is also an important aspect of good revision planning and you can visit 301’s time management resources to find out more. 

Exam technique

Have you received feedback on your assignment or exam? Can you use this feedback to develop your approach next time? You may find it helpful to make use of 301’s making the most of feedback resources. Using this feedback you may be able to identify areas for development in your approach to the exam or assessment. 

Find out more about exam technique and how to approach different types of online assessments via the Study Skills Online pages. 

Academic Skills & Wellbeing

Academic skills and wellbeing are closely related. A range of factors including physical health, social health and emotional health heavily influences performance of any kind, including academic.

Balancing your overall health and wellbeing and safeguarding regular time to do this will increase your resilience to stress and support your overall academic performance. Take a look at the guidance available on Academic Skills for Wellbeing.

301 Workshops and 1-1 appointments

301 also provides a range of workshops and 1-1 appointments covering study skills, maths and statistics. 

Study Skills Workshops

1-1 Study Skills Tutorials

Maths and Statistics Help (MASH) workshops

Maths and Statistics Help (MASH) 1-1 appointments

DDSS Specialist Mentoring Workshops

The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) has a programme of support and resources developed by specialist mentors, covering topics such as what to do when things go wrong, dealing with negative feedback, and managing perfectionism.

Please note that currently the workshops are only for students registered with DDSS, however all students can access the resources on the below webpages.

Taught Students Specialist Mentoring

PGR Group Specialist Mentoring

Mental health and wellbeing

You may find you need some additional help to explore your feelings about failing and to find better ways to manage it.  

Access mental health support


Hear from members of staff who have experienced failure

In the below videos, members of University staff share their experiences of failure and how they learned from it.

Dr Asha Akram, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology

"If I didn't experience failure or challenges in my academic career, I would never have reached the point in my career that I am today."

Andy Winter, Director of Student Support Services

"Knowing what it's like to fail and knowing how to make peace with that is, I think, such a valid skill for life."

Louise Knowles, Head of Mental Health & Psychological Therapy Services

"If you do experience failure while you're here at the university, know that there are support services out there to help support you, but more importantly, talk about it. Don't isolate yourself with that sense of failure."


Useful resources

You may also find these external resources helpful:

Students enjoying a workshop at 301

Book a Study Skills Workshop or 1:1 appointment

Would you like to explore a study skills topic in greater depth? Book on for a face-to-face or online workshop or 1:1 Study Skills appointment (current students only).