Worst Grade Ever – How to Comeback from Failure

Worst Grade

The worst grade I ever got was a 12. Like a 12/100. A 12%. 

The embarrassing part was, I actually studied. I studied a lot. 

Back in college, I had a challenging Biblical Studies class. 

The class wasn’t hard, or the professor challenging, but rather, it felt like I had never cracked open the Bible in my life. 

Predestination? What’s that. Bema Seat? Yeah, I got nothing. 

It was like speaking a different language. 

Worst Grade – Questions 

So, the quiz was composed of 20 multiple choice questions, worth a point each, and an essay worth 80 points. 

The funny part is this: The essay was prepared ahead of time. 

We knew the question and were able to study and prepare our answer. I studied, read the textbook and multiple external sources, and prepared a glowing essay. I had the entire thing written out before hand, then committed the major bullet points to memory. 

When the time came for the test, I hardly cared about those multiple choice questions – they wouldn’t affect my final grade. 

I figured, what’s the worst that can happen? My essay is rock-solid. I’ll easily cruise by with a B even if I tank every multiple choice question. 

Nope. Not so fast. 

Because I got a zero on the essay. And 12 correct on the multiple choice. 

Thank goodness for the multiple choice. It would have been embarrassing to get a zero (cough). 

Worst Grade – Sick 

The day our quizzes were handed back I was sick. I figured we weren’t doing anything important, and had already killed myself studying for the quiz. So I felt confident to take a day off. 

Unfortunately, I ran into the professor in the café during lunch. 

“You missed class today,” he said, popping out of nowhere like a stalker. 

“Sorry. I was sick,” I apologized. 

“Swing by my office this afternoon. I need to explain the grading.” 


That didn’t sound good. 

Professors never went out of their way to find you. But how bad could I have possibly done? 

I aced that sucker, I knew it. 

Worst Grade – Office 

I found his office and visited during Open Office Hours. 

“Have a seat,” he said kindly, as the door swung shut. 

I knew I was in trouble, but didn’t know why. 

“Before I show you the grade, you need to know I’m offering retakes.” 

He handed me the quiz. 12. Circled in red ink. 

Shoot. I was beyond confused. 

He continued, “A handful of students are in the same boat as you. They didn’t do well on the essay so I’m offering a second chance. I’m going to knock off some points, so the best you can do is an 80, but it’s better than nothing.” 

Yeah, or better than a 12, I thought. 

“I just wished you were in class today, because it’s not a big deal. I don’t want that grade to be a reflection on your effort. Because your answer was actually fantastic. But you answered an entirely different question, which I found compelling. It would have been an A.” 

Um. Ok. 

“Thanks?” I said as a question. 

I wasn’t sure if I should take the 12 and call it a day. Or put in all that studying and effort a second time. 

I shrugged my shoulders and left. 

Worst Grade – Fridge 

I hung the quiz on my fridge, like an elementary school art project. Hanging there in all its pride. 12. 

Everyone laughed. 

They thought it was hysterical. Especially since I had worked so hard on the essay and needed to study all over again. 

I retook the quiz, and put in the same effort. I even took the time to reconfirm with the professor, asking, “Is this the right answer?” Before committing the information to memory a second time. 

It was. And I passed. 

Meanwhile, the 12 stayed on my fridge all semester. 

A reminder of my folly. And a memento taking the time, thinking, slowing down, and evaluating, before wasting countless hours on the wrong thing. 

I never wanted to hear those words again: “You did a lot of work. But you’re just wrong.” 

I’m never wrong. Sometimes I just don’t know what the question was. 

Besides, it’s just not worth it. Even if you get a redo. 


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