About this time of the year is when you start getting your exams back and you're one of two people: Either you did well on the exam and can congratulate yourself for those countless hours of studying and last minute cramming, or you bombed the test. Most of us don't necessarily bomb the test but we do however feel unsatisfied with our results. Don't sweat it though, because there are steps you can take to boost your exam score. Yeah, that's right, I'm about to tell you the secrets to getting a better grade.
First, understand your failure to meet your expectations. Now, whether that is complete failure or you didn't get the "A" you felt you deserved is completely up to you. Take a moment and breathe in and out. Your score isn't where you'd like it to be but be optimistic. The score is already there, and the only way you can change it is if you improve in your other tests.
Look over where you messed up. There are probably questions that appear obvious to you now that you just completely overlooked. Maybe you were tired from late night studying and just didn't process the question the right way. Maybe you just blanked on the exam. Maybe you thought you understood a concept but found out that you barely understand the basics.
Make a plan. You've examined your mistakes, good job! Now it's time for us to make a plan. Those things that you didn't know the answers to? Well, you better go and find out what those answers are, because chances are that the rest of the course will build upon those concepts and questions. Up studying late last night? Start studying each day you go to class. I know that sounds annoying but it's way easier than telling yourself that you're going to start studying earlier. Instead you can go through your notes a second time. I am making a plan to go through my class notes a second time with a highlighter so that I can emphasize the important parts from each lecture. If I'm unclear about anything, this gives me time to check my textbook or visit my professor's office hours and contact them directly.
Keep your head up. It's okay that you didn't perform up to par. Know that you will get better at these exams because you'll be encountering the information more and more times. Retracing these patterns will increase the ability to recall information in your neurological pathways. Also, you probably aren't used to the way your professor administers their tests. Whether the test was given in a completely different way or they ask abstract questions, you now know what their exams feel like. With that knowledge, you can prepare and study even better, predicting what they will most likely ask on the upcoming and future exam.
These tips were things that were taught to me when I first performed badly on a test. I felt distraught and like I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. However, these tests don't measure your intelligence; they measure your ability to regurgitate information. Stay strong, follow your plan, and you will definitely improve. I believe in you.