Five common reasons people fail exams

April 17, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

Students can come up with countless reasons for failing an exam – and usually do – but what are the real reasons behind their failure?

They can play the blame game all they want. Ultimately, however, the reason lies within themselves. Some fail to study ahead of time and resort to cramming, while others buckle under pressure.

There are a number of common reasons people fail at exams but thankfully they can all be avoided

There are a number of common reasons people fail at exams but thankfully they can all be avoided

Here are some of the common reasons for exam failure:


One of the most common causes of failing an exam is cramming – or rushing through revision at the last minute and probably staying up all hours to do so.

This is especially true for final exams where questions come from lessons covered in a span of several months. Students tend to relax for the term and panic when the big exam is drawing near.

Rather than study their lessons daily, they prefer slacking off, and then cramming all the information a few days for the exam.

It is best to learn the lessons as they are taught, so the brain can process and retain information better.

Lack of practice

Not practicing enough is preparation for failure. In some cases, students only need to review past exams or quizzes and they have everything they need to pass.

Some students tend to take this for granted, and do not see that the answers (or questions) are staring them right in their faces.

Always make it a point to review past exams, as some of the questions may reappear in the finals. There are now online practice tests for all manner of exams, be it academic subjects or driver theory tests.

Not obeying instructions

Another common reason is failing to obey instructions. In some cases, students are ready and know all the information they need to pass the exam, but fail due to negligence.

Answering questions the wrong way, or not understanding what the instruction says can cause even the most prepared students to learn.

To prevent this from happening, read the instructions – twice or thrice if you have to – before starting to answer questions.

Poor time management

This is another common reason why prepared students still fail at an exam. The time given to finish an exam must be enough for the student to answer all questions, and still have some time remaining to go over their answers.

Some students have a habit of spending too much time on hard questions or essays that they neglect other parts of the exam.

One of the things that can be done is tackle hard questions first, and then move on to the easier ones.


Stress can be one of the leading causes of failure. Students who have a tendency to worry about the exam usually end up failing.

Overthinking things and being a worrywart will only cause anxiety, and this can be a big problem, especially when it happens right before taking a test. The best thing to do is relax the mind and remain calm before, and even after the exam.

If it’s a real issue, seek advice on how to cope with exam stress.

By knowing the leading causes of failure, you now know how to avoid them. Keep in mind that you are the only one who can control your actions. If you prepare enough and have the right mindset, you are sure to pass any exam with flying colours.

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