For a new student in any class, the anticipation of not knowing a professor’s testing and grading style is always overwhelming. The day you get the test or paper back, you are either pleasantly surprised or horrifically discouraged. If this latter case applies to you, you probably have one of two thoughts in your head: Either you’re shocked because you had bragged to your friends about how well you did the day you took the test or turned in the paper (#embarrassing), OR you were expecting that grade because ‘90s TGIT was the night before, so the test or paper was irrelevant at the time. Regardless, don’t just assume that you need to start a novena to St. Jude because you’re realizing that the A you dreamed of is probably a lost cause. While prayers would be helpful, don’t give up; you might not be down for the count yet.
First, don’t succumb to your fear of potential humiliation by dropping the class. Mostly because the add/drop period already ended, but also because it was the first assignment. You always need to become familiar with a professor’s particular style before you really succeed in his class. Professors aren’t oblivious to the fact that they expect a lot from students. One of the best things to do is make an appointment with your professor to discuss the assignment. Your professor will almost always be willing to work with you one-on-one to help you succeed. He’ll point out the specific issues you had, and he’ll often give you study tips catered to their style – what’s more helpful than getting tips from the peron grading your work? Then when the next big assignment comes around, you’ve been prepared by your professor who, mind you, will never forget the initiative you took when you sought his help personally.
Then there are the obvious pointers: study more in advance, study with other students in the class so you can all benefit from each other, and get more sleep (even if that means skipping the “How I Met Your Mother” marathon you had planned).
And for all you ultra-perfectionists out there: chill. Your vocation is to be a student, not a genius. Embrace it.