A definitive guide to coping with a bad prelim grade

Cheer up, babe

The pressure to constantly work diligently and perform well academically is naturally ever-present at Cornell. The driving force behind this pressurized environment, besides the frigid Ithaca air of course, is prelims.

Prelim season never quite ends.

Your friends that attend other colleges can’t quite wrap their heads around the notion of prelims, why you incessantly complain about them as it seems you just had one last week, and why they can’t simply be called midterms. Nonetheless, prelims are always around the corner and you will, at some point, perform badly on one of them.

Knowing that your relentless studying did not parallel your results on a test is definitely a feeling difficult to cope with. Whether you walked out feeling like you rocked it and were wrong or knew that you for sure bombed it and were right, doing poorly is never seasonable or favorable.


There are a few things you can do, however, to ameliorate this relatable and inevitable pain. I will attempt to extend to you my best tips as I regrettably am forced to succumb to my own advice in the process.


No matter what grade you received, the fact of the matter is, it’s over.

You cannot, though you can try to construct a time machine if you want by all means, go back into the past. At this point, your results are irreversible and the worst part of it all is done. You can take a deep breathe and acknowledge the break in the clouds: you are done with that prelim!


Do something you enjoy

While the conscientious student inside of you may want to begin studying for your next prelim to make amends for you satisfactory grade, it is often counterintuitive to complete a task with a cloudy mindset.

Doing something you actually like can put a smile on your face, remind you that there is definitely more to life than grades, and clear your brain of the negative slew of emotions you are feeling.

Do NOT compare your grades to other people’s grades

Always remember that you are your own person, and comparing yourself to others does not and will not change the outcome of your results. Though sometimes hearing you are not alone can be assuaging, you should not try to feed off of other people’s misery.

Although we all know the rather truthful saying that misery loves company – don’t be that guy!


There are few things that detox both the body and the mind better than exercise. Whatever your preference, be it running or lifting, you’ll be sure to experience a wave of mental clarity post blowing off some steam.

It is scientifically proven that your body releases endorphins during a workout, which trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to that of the effects of morphine. This feeling is often referred to as euphoria and is accompanied by positive energy and a more positive outlook on life!

Moral of the story: sweat your prelim sadness away.


Remember it’s just a test.

At the end of the day, regardless of how much weight you think your college GPA holds on your life, all that really happened was that you didn’t do well on a test. There is much more to life than numerical assessments of your knowledge on a particular subject.

What is life really about anyway? Well, that is a rather controversial and weighty question, but the answer is definitely not prelim grades.


Cheer up, it’s just a test.