Can You Still Pass After Failing A Finals Or Midterms?

Last Updated on May 22, 2021 by David Shaw

frustrated student

Did you mess up a finals paper or midterms and worry if you can still pass the class? Like anyone else, students can also be underprepared or encounter a bad day before facing a hard exam. As a student, it is important and comprehensible to avoid bad grades while always aiming for the highest grades possible, so here’s a helpful article to weigh and understand the odds.

Is it possible to still pass the class after failing finals or midterms? On average, professors will likely let you pass the class if you failed one final or midterms. Some professors finalize one’s grade score by weighing the overall final, midterm, and homework or project-related scores. Weighted-grade systems are intended to give students a numerical advantage for grades earned in higher-level courses.

If you’ve maintained an overall good standing grade throughout the semester and messed up on finals or midterms, there is a very hopeful chance you won’t fail the class and still round-up with a decent B grade. Let’s break it down with some calculations and some other expectations.

Determine If Grades Are Being Weighted

What does a weighted grade mean? Weighted grade simply is a formula which takes the sum of all your total homework, midterm, or finals percentage as the ‘weight’ and multiplying it with the percentage you earned for it.

The formula is something like this with a data example:

sample course data

Let’s say you obtained the following scores for example:

Lab Projects80%
Final Exam 90%

You would input your variables into the formula like the following:

sample data

How exactly does the weighted grade implementation help you? Let’s say if you obtained the final score of 58% which is equivalent to 394/680 by converting to 100 percent. If your professor used the Weighted Grade distribution instead, you will likely end up with an additional 5%, which can boost your final grades to around 63% instead of 58% which is just above the passing grade.

Some professors would instead multiple your final grades by 1.05 after calculating your weighted grade, which people usually call the ‘1.05’ weight. It is simply the same as adding an additional 5% to your current score, so 58% after a 1.05 weight will give you 61% instead.

The ‘1.05 weight’ is sometimes added simply for a certain percentile of the students to avoid providing students a disadvantage from the weighted grade system. Yes, a weighted grading system could also potentially hurt your final score if messed up on a midterm or finals exam which has a greater ‘weight’ to their grading percentage.

To understand more about weighted grades and how to calculate them, here’s a more in-depth article I wrote on what weighted grades are all about with examples.

Is ‘D’ A Passing Grade?

Some people might tell you a grade D is considered a passing grade, but unfortunately, a grade D does not qualify as passing in college or universities. Getting a D would mean you’d have to retake the same class, which you should expect to push yourself harder to get a minimum of grade C or better for any college.

What I personally recommend is to avoid grades D and below at all costs. In some cases, universities take the average of both your grades from your first and second attempts to calculate your cumulative GPA. For example, if you failed a Calculus 1 class with a grade of D (1.0 GPA) and retook the class and got an A (4.0 GPA), your college might take the average of 4.0 plus 1.0 which equals 2.5 GPA which falls in between C and B minus.

Letter Grade GPA (Grade Point Average)
Table of Letter Grade and GPA correspondence

How Bad Does An ‘F’ Look On A Transcript?

If you’re a prospective transfer student, you might also be asking does a grade D or F impact your admission chances. The short answer is no. Getting a D or F on your transcript will not likely impact your transfer application, but a consistent failing grade in a particular subject of your major will very likely impact your application.

To be a strong applicant, you should not be worried about failing but instead, focus on getting B and above while C all the time. If you did badly in classes in your first year, prove in your transcript that you are on the improvement curve along your academic journey. Admission officers don’t particularly filter out students with a bad start academically, but rather an applicant who’s not reflecting an improvement of grades on their transcripts.

Getting D or F grades is not the main factor of disqualification of a transfer applicant, it is one’s low GPA percentile that weeds you out of admission’s officer priority list.

Imagine being in a pool of 10,000 applicants, you probably won’t stand a good chance in surviving the first evaluation with a 3.1 GPA compared to another applicant with a 3.9 GPA. You would easily lose out on the first stage of filtering in terms of the applicant’s GPA before you reach the next stage of evaluation, so maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.2 and above is vital for the chance of transfer admission. In the end, one or two grade D alone won’t put you below the average 3.2 GPA percentile if your GPA is high while you’re in good academic standing.

How To Recover From A Bad Grade

Feeling very distressed and tired after receiving a bad grade can be very physically and mentally draining. Instead of drowning away in sorrow, do something motivating to divert the negativity instead. Find sources of positive energy and motivation you can draw from to encourage yourself to do better moving forward. There are many creative ways to do this, don’t ever let a grade bring you down because there are more challenging things to worry about ahead in the future.

  • Set New Academic Goals
setting goals

Students often lose motivation midway through a semester or quarter from burning out. Regardless, it is totally normal phase people go through because everyone deserves a break. Some people can pull through longer while some lose motivation easier, but it doesn’t matter if we continue finding new motivation and keep improving.

By setting new goals or even lifestyle, we can stimulate ourselves to approach learning things in a new manner or setting that is exciting and unfamiliar. People are naturally drawn to try new things because we are curious, and should always remain that way to keep improving and questioning new things around us.

  • Reflect On Your Progress

Sometimes a bad grade or exam can mess up our entire day or weekend, make use of this opportunity to reflect on what you could’ve done better for a satisfactory outcome. When we reflect on our progress, we often neglect how much or how little we’ve improved. From there, we can consciously and more effectively identity by working on making a difference

  • Find New Motivation
creative einstein art
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein

The distressed feeling from a bad grade is only temporary. To quickly regain your motivation, a helpful tip is to remember you why started. What future do you want to create for yourself, or what would be the first thing you would reward yourself if you become successful?

Do you have a figure or noble individual you look up to in life? Hang a picture of their inventions, portrait, or even their meaningful quotes that give you energy in your room or around your house. Place them where you can visibly read and see them every day to remind you of good and positive energy.

Final Take

fail to success

If you’re still having mixed feelings about a bad grade, just remember that it will not impact your transcript significantly. Bring light out of this issue instead, maybe you will realize what and where to prioritize your time by dropping certain unhealthy habits of yours.

Time management of your schedule is very important as a student to do well given the endless source of distractions today. Realize and align your goals, the quicker you do it, the sooner you will achieve with the right discipline.

David Shaw

I graduated college with a Computer Science degree and enjoy blogging about the college experience as a hobby. I like spending time learning about the latest happenings in the tech and entrepreneurship world. With my prior experiences and knowledge, I hope my college lifestyle brings help to people

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