Okay. We’ve all been there.

Anxiously sitting in class as your teacher hands out marks to your latest assessment. Maybe you’re feeling confident. Maybe just praying for a pass.


You flip over the piece of paper and feel that hot sting of disappointment as you process a mark that you’re not happy with.


Knowing how to deal with upsetting marks can be hard, and everyone does different things to help. Here are a few things to try and keep in mind when you strap into the emotional roller coaster results can take you on.



Be sensitive to others


It doesn’t matter if you were the one who got the upsetting mark, or if it was someone else’s, you should bear in mind that the expectations people have for themselves are completely their own.



You should consider your audience before you begin complaining.

An achieved for someone can be as equally upsetting or pleasing, and complaining about a certain grade isn’t fair to others who may have worked really hard (and are pleased) with that same mark, or lower.


Of course you can complain (within reason) but you want to ensure that you won’t accidentally drag anyone else in that process.



Take a moment to process


Do your best to think about why it is you’re feeling the way you are and what about your grade was unsatisfactory. As much as we hate to admit it, we sometimes dig our own graves and if you know you didn’t put in quite as much work as you should’ve.



Taking a moment to think about your own actions can also be a super helpful way to think about what you should be doing for next time as well.



Resist the urge to throw it away


When confronted with perceived failure, we tend to want to throw the toys out of the cot and never return to whatever topic it may be.


While this may be okay in the moment, it is a huge mistake not to go back to your work to figure out why you received that grade. You will never be able to learn from your mistakes if you don’t take the time to analyse what happened.


One of the easiest ways to make your work better in the future is fixing the cumulation of small errors you make throughout the entire piece. These add up quickly, and what was a bunch of very minor errors turns into a reduced grade. These often go unaddressed because you don’t even know you’re making them.


This is an almost instantaneous way to ensure that an upsetting grade isn’t a repetitive event. It’s also a bit of an exercise in confronting yourself and your work in a critical manner-a difficult task even for the most self-reflective human.



Take accountability


An upsetting grade can really be a hit to the ego, especially if you had been feeling confident or had put a lot of work into the piece. Often, the first thing we look to do is fault others for what happened.



What this does is protect our egos and allow ourselves to push the blame to someone or something else. By this, we don’t have to consider the possibility that it was actually our own fault. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, check out this article which discusses self-enhancement and self-protection in more depth.


Sometimes, things do happen which are out of your control, but this shouldn’t be the first conclusion to jump to.



Wrap up


It’s okay to have bad grades from time to time, and everyone experiences it within some capacity at a point. Normalising mistakes is an important step in being able to tackle things head on and cope with events that may not work in your favour.


Keep going, one small thing won’t be the end of the world. There is no grade you can receive that will change the course of your entire schooling career.


All will be well.




  1. Alyssa

    i really needed this today 🙂

  2. Gemma

    Wow thanks, that’s made me feel so much better


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What is StudyTime?

StudyTime is an online platform dedicated to helping NZ kids make the most of high school.

We’re a combined team of tutors and students who deliver entertainment, advice and original resources to thousands of high school students every day.


2019 is gonna be a big one.


Here’s our top tips on making it through the year with your mental health in tact.



1. Get yourself a resource that works. 

One of the biggest struggles we’ve found with students in NCEA is that they have no sense of security or direction.

When you’re learning in an overcrowded classroom, with a subpar teacher, and not much self-determination – it can feel a bit like you’re flailing blindly through a curveball system with no sense of “control” over your grades.

Having an accurate, reliable and easy-to-read resource at the ready can make a world of difference to both your study habits and boost your reassurance that you’re on the right track.

Our walkthrough guides are designed specifically for NCEA students, to help them to get back this sense of control. They’re the perfect little textbook for anyone wanting better grades, or just a little more confidence and security in their studies.

They’re written and illustrated by students who’ve been through NCEA, who know what commonly trips students up in these subjects. They’re also small enough to carry with you on the go, so you can whip them out and learn more every time you get a spare minute.

Check out more about them here, or browse for your subjects here.

2. Know what your teachers want from you.



“Answer the question” is a teacher demand familiar to most students, but we somehow still manage to muck it up.


We all know the feeling of spending hours slaving away at an assignment only to receive a low-achieved for our blood, sweat and tears. It sucks.


The simplest way to avoid excessive work + poor grades is to make sure we know exactly what the teacher wants from us with every assignment, test or question they ask.


When you get an assignment, don’t glance over it and then stuff it into your MacPac only to be retrieved a couple days before the deadline.


Instead, as soon as you get your assignment, read it thoroughly. Be 100% confident you understand the question, as well as the intended answer. This doesn’t mean you have to be uncreative or uncritical in your response. It just means you won’t waste your time slaving over a project that ultimately does not give the teacher the information they’re looking for.



If the question is lengthy and tricky to understand (as it often is with NCEA) make a time to sit down with your teacher and break it down. If you don’t have this option – message us on Instagram and we’ll help you work through it.


If you know exactly what the teacher wants from you, you’ll not only get better grades, you’ll save yourself wasted study time.



3. Don’t take it TOO seriously (but just seriously enough). 



However flawed it is, NCEA is just a formal system that’s there to help you get the skills you’ll need to become a functioning member of society.


Credits are just numbers. Endorsements don’t really matter. You won’t remember your grades in 5 years time.


Taking this time of your life too seriously has ugly consequences. You could become a know-it-all, or a chronic perfectionist, or a wet blanket. None of these attributes are particularly attractive. What’s more, when you take NCEA too seriously, you often end up suffering a lot more than you need to.



Instead of agonising over the fact that Becky got 4 more Excellence credits than you – a better approach is to shrug and laugh at your own endearing flaws. Look at some of our memes, submit a funny story to our instagram, laugh at yourself on your private gram.


Whatever it is, purge your negative self-talk with a healthy dose of humour – and then move on. 


Of course, this doesn’t mean you should not try at all. It just means that NCEA is as hard as you make it. Try your best. Show up everyday. Study in small bursts. Take a break if you need to. Search for some meaning in your studies.


Remember how this system is here to help you – not hurt you.


Laugh with ya mates. Curse your teacher’s name. Just don’t act like missing out on those 4 Excellence credits is essentially a death wish. It’s simply not.



4. Study smart, not hard. 


StudyTime will drive this point home until the cows come home. Until you kids learn how to master this point, we’ll keep it in our articles.



Are you guilty of spend hours and hours highlighting your textbooks, or making your notes Pinterest-level pretty? Do you put off all your revision until the day before your deadline, leaving only time for stress-crying, panic and all-nighters? Do you rarely revise material after class, only to have it gone from your mind by the time it comes up in an assignment or external?


Most of us are guilty of these tendencies. This is because school has ingrained in us a dangerous myth: that studying is a horrible and hard thing to do. This myth makes us believe that if study isn’t difficult, boring or long-lasting – it must not be real study.


Of course, this isn’t true. Believe it or not, study can be super fun actually – or at least non-painful. That is, if it’s effective study: you’re learning in the quickest, easiest and most efficient way possible.


The three key ingredients to effective study are:

  • Consistency (study in short, consistent, frequent bursts rather than long blocks at a time)
  • Focus (remove distractions, and train yourself to focus on one task at a time, instead of the entire mountain of work you have to do)
  • Activity (don’t passively highlight notes – instead, test yourself, read your content aloud, make summary sheets of your material, or do practice papers)



If you follow these rules, you’ll have a much more efficient study routine, and even more time for other fun stuff like socialising or sport. This will get you better grades, save you unnecessary stress, and remove the guilt of procrastinating things for so long.




  1. Alyssa

    i really needed this today 🙂

  2. Gemma

    Wow thanks, that’s made me feel so much better


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is StudyTime?

StudyTime is an online platform dedicated to helping NZ kids make the most of high school.

We’re a combined team of tutors and students who deliver entertainment, advice and original resources to thousands of high school students every day.


Printed versions of our Walkthrough Guides, available for order now!