It's Okay to Fail

Just failed? Welcome to the club!

Have you just received a fail grade or disappointing mark? Whatever your circumstances, remember that failing does not make you a failure. 

Take a deep breath, don't panic and get started on figuring out what you need to do next.

You might find these resources helpful...

Release of Results

Click here to read more about your immediate options for a review of results or a fee remission request.

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Special Consideration

Academic Standing

I just failed. What do I do now?

Take a moment for yourself 

Failing an exam or getting lower marks than you expected isn’t the end of the world, but it hurts. Allow yourself some time to acknowledge your feelings and let them out before you move on. 

Remember that failing does not make you a failure 

Every successful person fails sometimes. Now is the time to practice self-love and recognise that bad grades do not cancel out your achievements nor your worth!  

Consider the context of your fail grade

This last year has been incredibly difficult for everyone! Think about the factors that contributed to your results – maybe your mental health affected your studying, maybe you did a little too much cramming and missed a few too many lectures, or maybe the class just wasn’t right for you.  

If you're facing difficulties with mental health or extenuating circumstances, consider making an appointment with UNSW Psychology & Wellness.

Immediate options

If you believe your mark may be approved upon second review, you can request a reassessment of your work until 5 days from the result release date. This may result in the mark going up or down and your request may be rejected, however.

In situations where you cannot complete a course, or have tried and failed, you may be entitled to a refund of tuition fees. You can apply within 12 months of completing the course, if special circumstances apply.

Plan for the future

What happens now depends on what’s right for you. Whether you apply for a supplementary exam, need to re-do a course or take a break from uni, take stock of your options, find the support you need and get ready for the next step.  

This might include...

What not to do...

  • Don't panic!
  • Don't email your lecturer angrily
  • Don't post anything publicly on social media that negatively reflects on your lecturer or course 

Everyone fails sometimes! Read how uni course failure has affected your fellow students:

3 Ways to Reflect on Failure 

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why things go wrong. Make the most of a tricky situation and use this moment of disappointment to reflect on yourself, your studies and your wellbeing.

Feel Sad – But Challenge Negative Thoughts. 

Everyone fails and it’s important to let yourself thoroughly experience your emotions around failure. However, it’s important to challenge negative thoughts as they arise and reflect on the reality of those thoughts. 

While being upset is encouraged, identifying yourself as the failure can create a tendency for thought spirals and catastrophic thinking. If you ever catch yourself thinking “I am a failure” - stop, breath and correct such thinking to “I failed a course/subject” instead. 

The more you are able to catch and correct yourself in this habit, the more focused your thoughts will become and the better your reflection on the failure will be. 

Write or Talk it Out: 

Verbalising or writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to organise your thoughts, process the failure and make your strategies more concrete. Whether it’s with yourself or to a loved one – taking your thoughts out of your head and seeing or hearing how they sound, and look can offer new perspectives.

If you’re having trouble finding somewhere to start reflecting, try using the prompts below:

·      What was it that was failed to be achieved?

·      How did you feel before/during/after the experience? 

·      Who can you go to for support for understanding the issue further?

·      What have you learned from this?

·      How could you apply this to future experiences? 

From here, you can use your answers to help map out the next term including planning an academic support system and planning out how to set your study notes for future use. 

Find Support 

Whether the reason for this failure was as straightforward as time management or completely confusing to you, there are people who can help you figure it out.

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
For many students, mental health has a major impact on assignment and exam results. If you're struggling to cope at uni, try making a free and confidential telehealth or face to face counselling session with UNSW CAPS.

Student Support and Success Advisors
Do you need help figuring out how to balance life with study, develop study skills or perfect time management. UNSW academic advisors are here to help you find your way.

International Student Experience Unit

Uni life is hard enough without moving to a new country or studying in a second language. The International Student Experience Unit are here to help you with study and offer advice.

Further UNSW Resources

Academic Improvement Module

Are you on Referral, Probation, Provisional Suspension or Exclusion? The Academic Improvement Module (AIM) is here to help you to get back on track.

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Learning & Careers Online

Support foracademic skills development such as writing, referencing, presentation skills as well as time management and other study-related skills.

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