Tuesday, 3 September 2013

What to do if you get a disappointing essay mark

Some people naturally churn out 2:1 essays the night before a deadline, but for some of us it's just not that easy.

I am currently studying on a Master's in Psychology through distance learning, and my most recent essay earned a mark I was real disappointed with. I got a 46 on the essay. I had spent ages studying, writing and re-writing and felt really deflated.

depression university
Image from feminspire.com

When faced with a poor mark, it's likely you'll feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and dreading the next essay deadline. Keep your chin up! Here are my top tips when faced with a disappointing mark.

  1. Accept that you may need to work on certain skills in order to improve your academic writing. Don't just shrug and move on. This is a wake-up call, not something you need to accept. You could argue and have the paper remarked, but in most cases markers are accurate. Use this opportunity to work on your own skills.
  2. Don't assume you 'just can't do it'. It's tempting to write yourself off as unskilled, but it may be that you style of writing needs tweeking. Your choice of content may be excellent, but the argument you've put across could be improved.
  3. Get help. When I was at University I went to see tutors and asked for help. Unfortunately, my tutors were more interested in their own PHD studies and were not useful at all. If this happens to you, keep asking! Talk to other members of staff. You are paying for the degree and if you need help make sure you get it.
  4. Talk to others. It's not as easy to get help if you are studying through distance learning. The first thing I did when I saw my mark was to go onto the forum and make a plea. I basically stated that I was disappointed with my mark and would really appreciate the opportunity to look at another person's work with a higher mark. I made sure I also said that I would not submit any of this work or put it on the internet. I also included my email. The next day someone sent me an essay that gained a mark of 68 which I can now compare to my own and have something to aim towards.
  5. Approach your next essay in a new way. If you know you need to improve, and think you know how, then make those changes as soon as you start your next essay. I think my mistake was not focusing in detail on genetics, but concentrated more on research. Next time, I'm going to make sure that I'm as clued up as possible on the genetic aspects of a disorder before I start looking at other issues in research.


duck in a dress said...

Very good advice! (which I might be referring back to in September...)

I've got two assignments waiting to be marked for my distance learning degree and I'm fully expecting to get a low mark on both of them. They were horrible topics and really difficult to put together!

But you're right, use it as a learning experience and aim to do even better next time! :-) x

Srish Nair said...

Wow that's really good advice! I'm starting uni this month and I know for a fact that this will help. Thanks so much! :D

Lucinda Harrington said...

Thanks Srish. I've been looking at your gorgeous paintings.

Glad this advice helped (or may help) you both!

Tall Slim Sally said...

Good advice. So far I have managed to stay in the 1st/2.1 mark zone for my exams and essays but it hasn't always been easy!