Overcoming the Stress of First-time Exam Failure

stress of first-time exam failure - medsmarter

Introduction

People aren’t usually ready to point the finger at themselves when they fail, but accepting responsibility is an excellent habit to adopt early on. 

Being paralyzed by failure won’t lead to improvement. 

It can help to think of the loss simply as the difference between what you want to achieve and what you did accomplish. 

If you view every failure as an opportunity to learn, that will allow you to recalibrate and try again.

Perspective on Failure

It is impractical to think that we can go through life without experiencing failure. To live without making mistakes is almost like not living at all! 

The amazing thing about failure is that its consequences lie entirely in our control. 

We can regard it as the end of the world and evidence of our inadequacy, or we can learn from it and improve ourselves. 

If we can search for the lesson in every failure we go through, we can grow immensely as people. Failure only holds us back if we let it.

See also: 9 Tips to Prepare for an Exam in Medical School

How to overcome a first-time exam failure

Acceptance is easy to view failure as a sign of giving up, but the first step to overcoming failure is to accept that you did not meet your goals. 

Then, we can begin to identify why we fell short of the desired results, whether those are internal or external factors. 

Soon, the discouraging effects of failure can be turned around into an excellent opportunity to learn and improve.

  • Reframe

“Once bitten, twice shy.” We’ve all heard the adage. But, unfortunately, once we’ve felt the sting of failure, it can be an uncomfortable source of anxiety moving forward. 

We may be afraid of looking dumb or failing to fulfill expectations. 

You might be able to prevent some tension and stress by mentally framing a challenging task before you undertake it. 

Setting small, incremental goals for yourself is an excellent way to tackle a daunting task or situation.

  • Set Objectives

You can classify goals as approach goals or avoidance goals. Approach goals are goals aimed toward reaching a positive outcome. 

Avoidance goals prevent a negative result. Anxiety tends to steer us towards avoidance goals, i.e., “I hope I don’t fail.”

Studies have proven that creating approach objectives and reframing avoidance goals benefit self-improvement and well-being. 

For example, instead of thinking, “I hope I don’t fail,” try thinking, “What can I do to make sure I pass?”

  • Focus

The chips won’t always fall where you want them to, but if you know that going in, you’ll be better prepared to get the most out of the experience, no matter what happens. 

If you’re willing to learn, failure is a fantastic teacher. Have you made a blunder? Have you made a string of mistakes? 

Then you’ll make sure that your failure has turned into a life lesson that has taught you something. 

Instead of perceiving a failure as a setback that drags you down, consider it a stepping stone toward your objectives.

Experiencing failure for the first time can be terrifying, especially for those accustomed to being high achievers. Each failure presents a fork in the road. 

Are we going to be brought down by every mistake, feeling inadequate and stagnating in our goals? 

Or are we going to analyze our efforts, learn, and make something positive out of the experience?

Life is inherently imperfect; therefore, positively dealing with failure is a necessary skill to have tucked away when we need it.

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