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‘Do you need A grades to be an A-grade doctor?’

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

You have opened the dreaded email from your university’s examination administrator… your smile fades quickly and your excitement dissolves. There is a constant voice in your head, asking how you got these results. “But I worked hard all year round”, now dread mixes with anger.

So, let’s talk about not getting the grade you want. In the moment of finding out that you did not get the grade you wanted, you may feel a sudden wave of defeatism washing over you. We can acknowledge this. BUT what if you can use it to your advantage? Take control of that wave.

Roughly 5% of students fail the first year of medical school, with 2% failing by the time they reach fourth year. Let us explore this a bit more..

It is not so much that you get over what has happened in the moment, you have got to learn how to approach it for future times.

No one assignment or exam will ever be the same, and that is just their nature. Therefore, in situations like these, you can conclude either one of two scenarios: 1) did something go wrong during preparation or 2) execution?


Let us address number one first.

When you prepare for an assignment or exam, the most important thing to have grips with, is the requirements and in the context of exams, the syllabus, and modules that you will be examined on.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well I have already had experience with this. I revised the syllabus multiple times, making sure I covered all the relevant content, yet I still did not do as well as I wanted to”.

In the unfortunate event as the aforementioned, not all hope is lost. This brings us onto number 2.


Exam and assignment results may not necessarily always be your fault. Sometimes the questions used may have mistakes in them, or perhaps the assignment’s marking was quite biased. Either way, do not always beat yourself up for it. At least not until you’re certain that the result was, because of something that you did do wrong. The most recent events of the pandemic have led to increased stress amongst student cohorts, due to a lack of motivation, and with some students experiencing close family deaths as well.

The most important thing to do in a situation like this is to read the feedback or go through the exam again, to try and figure out where you potentially went wrong. Most of the time, the feedback is indeed constructive, and you can use it to your advantage to try and build on something better next time.

Overall, as a final message for this month’s blog, always try your best to turn around the situations you find yourself in when it comes to your exams and assignments. Things won’t always go the way you plan them, and you have to get into the habit of finding different ways around your obstacles, specifically not getting the result you wished for. Use the feedback to your advantage and take control of the situation in a positive manner.


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