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Failing a subject feels bad, but let’s clear something up straight away – failing does not make YOU the failure. Failing is usually the result of many different things and should never be taken as a sign of your worth and talents.

Failing at something is a normal part of life, and everyone fails at some point. And on the positive, failing can actually show us how NOT to do something. In fact, failing one thing can sometimes lead us to the things that we are truly passionate about.

When we fail a subject at school, it’s normal to wrestle with unhelpful thoughts such as:

“Yep – I know I am no good at school.”


“Yep – it’s not worth the effort.”

But this is definitely not the time to give up on yourself.

Here’s what you can do instead

Ask yourself why this happened

  • is there too much happening in your life? 
  • do you need some help to take off some pressure? 
  • was it because of missing school? 
  • is it because of anxiety? 
  • was it because you didn’t understand the work/subject matter?

Find the people out there willing to help you

Even though you probably don’t feel like talking about it, trying can take you far.

Chatting to a teacher (or another trusted adult in or out of school) can make things seem better, so if you like, you could try these things:

  • make a time to see them so they can be prepared and not rushed
  • first, ask them what you’re doing well, then ask where you’re on track and what you need to keep doing or do more of
  • ask if there are options for catching up on the grade
  • ask if there is any extra support for how you learn best – like if you are a visual learner and love pictures and diagrams rather than loads of words to read – could they help you find some materials?
  • if it’s all too much, and you don’t think you can get on track, talk about other options, like changing or dropping a subject – it’s worth bringing up

Tweak your approach

Change the way you get through the time you have to do the work, for example:

  • before an exam or assignment, keep an eye on how you’re going midway through, and if you think you might fail, talk to the teacher straight away
  • if your final grade isn’t in yet, talk to your teacher about options for extra assessment or projects that can help you pass

Failure is not the opposite of success, failure is a part of success