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  • Writer's pictureSurvive Law

How I Bounced Back From Failing a Unit

Bart Simpson in the playground

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Receiving results after a hard and stressful exam period may validate the work you’ve done throughout semester. For others, it may be a mixture of stressing over what went wrong and thinking that you’ll never pass another law unit again. Perhaps one of the biggest taboos in law school, failing is rarely talked about - the word is barely mentioned.

So when I failed for the first time in my three years of uni, I felt like the biggest idiot. I thought about all my insecurities, that I wasn’t good enough because I was a transfer student, and because I had never received any grades other than credit or pass as my final grade in my two years of law.

After the initial period of doom and gloom, I thought that failure was just a story to tell, and that I had something to learn. Surely I couldn’t be the very first and only person to fail a law unit and with that in mind, doing the following things helped me bounced back.

Give yourself time to grieve

While this may sound bizarre, sometimes all you need is to cry about how badly you went and feel sorry for yourself. It’s a stage that we’ve all been through, and one we need to go through in order for us to get up and do something about it.

Understand why you failed

While you might not be able to see why at the time, there is always a reason. It might be because you didn’t study enough, you didn’t do any of the readings, you barely rocked up to the lectures, you didn’t make an effort to engage in the material, you ignored the criteria, or, other more personal reasons. Just avoid making a link between your insecurities and failure because failing does not mean that you are stupid or unworthy.

Revise your strategy

After a lengthy reflection, bounce back by revising your study strategies. This could mean talking to your lecturer about why you failed and how you could improve for next time. Doing this can be the difference between repeating the same mistakes or learning, and eventually succeeding.

Believe in yourself

The biggest killer throughout law school is confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself then you’re going to lose. Accept that you’re here for a reason, believe in yourself and you will succeed.

Now, as I write this, I can happily and confidently say that not only did I pass this unit, but I also managed to get a distinction (my very first one!) to end my second year of law. Bouncing back after failure is hard, but as Henry Ford points out, "failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

So don’t mull over your failure too much. It may just be what you need to re-focus and look at your law degree with fresh eyes.

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