What should I do if I fail?

Failing a course may be a setback, but it is not necessarily a disastrous one. Students who have failed can go on to pass re-sits and still graduate with a good degree. The important thing is for you to try to understand why you failed, learn what you can do about it and take action to get back on track.

What to do if you have failed an assessment

  1. Don't panic or despair. As much as it feels like the end of the world just now or that everything is ruined this is not the case. More often than not there is something that can be done to help.
  2. Don't hide or retreat into your room or yourself. Things might feel awful, anxious, embarrassing or overwhelming but it is best to begin dealing with things as soon as possible. This could be simply getting in touch with your personal tutor, the counselling service or The Advice Hub. Try and get some support with how you are feeling, from friends, family or from university services.
  3. Failing an exam does not mean that you are a failure. It simply means that you have not met the standard on this particular exam at this particular time. Resist the urge to generalise, self-criticise or catastrophize (when we begin to think that everything is ruined). Be specific – it is just this exam or these exams.
  4. Sometimes there is good reason why you did not perform as well as expected. If this is the case contact your Personal Tutor, the Counselling service, your GP (if due to a health reason) or the Student Union Advice Hub as soon as possible. The sooner you do this the more possibility there will be of taking any mitigating circumstances into account.
  5. Take Action. If you feel that you are having difficulty with exams in general contact the Student Wellbeing Service. There are many methods and approaches to help manage exam stress and anxiety and the Wellbeing Service hold drop in sessions and workshops before and during the exam period. You can also contact the Student Success Advisors who are recent Heriot-Watt graduates and have been in the position you are in. Using their experience of sitting exams, they can give you helpful advice and tips.

Key information

Student Wellbeing Services

Student Success Advisors

Student Union Advice Hub

+44 131 451 4535