Learning from Failure and Persevering


The day is finally here. You’ve studied for numerous hours, days, weeks, months even… and still you don’t feel prepared. You start to resent it- the “wasted” time that you’ve invested, the weekends and nights out that you’ve passed over in order to do more practice problems. You’re nervous. You’re tired. You’re slightly burnt out. I know that’s how I felt. Inevitably, I ended up not passing during that sitting.

Defeat was a horrible feeling. Trying to move on was worse. In the following days, I was constantly reminded of my failure by messages from friends and family asking how I did. With each inquiry, it became easier and easier to relay the disappointment. This, however, did not help with my frustration and discontent.

Eventually, I stopped wallowing and reevaluated the situation.

The first thing I did was ask myself how effective were my study sessions. Was I getting distracted? How many hours was I studying versus doing other things during that time? Hold yourself accountable for the time used and be honest when reflecting on the quality of the time used to study.

The second aspect that I needed improving on was the fact that I was studying wrong. I spent too much time making my notes and flashcards when I could have spent the time understanding concepts and doing problems. Don’t get me wrong- I think that making notes and flashcards do help, but I was trying to make them PERFECT. In retrospect, it was a waste of time. It’s not a mistake that I will make again.

The third part that I needed improving on was actually mastering the concepts. Instead of going through as many problems as I could, I needed to slow it down and really understand why I made the mistakes that I did. I needed to understand how concepts related to each other.

Lastly, I found it better for me to study by sections per day/week rather than setting hourly goals. As I mentioned before, the quality of the study hours you put into it are important. If the quality of study is low, then you are essentially inflating the number of hours. Setting goals based on sections gave me a more accurate estimate as to how prepared I feel. It also allows for easier adjustments if you fall behind.

It’s normal to fail every once in a while- just make sure that you learn from it so that it’s not a waste of your time.