Failed midterm. Should I take a withdrawal?

Hi everyone,

I had a really bad night before my midterm. I studied extremely hard for it, but still couldn’t get my head around some of the concepts. The anxiety really got to me and I found it hard to fall asleep. I ended up arriving late, of about 5 minutes, to my exam, which only made me panic even more.

The grades aren’t out yet, but I know I did very poorly. I realized my mistakes within minutes of handing the exam to my professor.

The exam counts for 25% of the final grade. I already got a 75% on a homework that counted for about 10% of the grade, and I need at least 55% overall to pass.

I probably got nothing right in the exam, but   I showed very basic knowledge of the concepts so I might get, at best, 40%... 

Maybe even a big 0 😖...

Should I take a withdrawal or keep trying? My GPA is definitely above average at the moment, and I would really like to go to grad school so I need to keep it high.

Thanks for your help. 


I should definitely try my best, but at the same time, I'm scared I won't be able to pass with, say, a 0 or a 20% for this midterm... I does count for 22% of the final grade... Has anyone been in a similar situation?  

Update 2:

Because of the pandemic I can withdraw without it affecting my GPA at any time during the semester. I think I’ll just wait for the midterm grade to come out. I don’t want to wait too long either because I could be focusing on maintaining a A in all of my other classes. 

2 Answers

  • 1 month ago
    Favourite answer

    What is the withdrawal date? That is, when can you withdraw with a W without it affecting your GPA, versus a WF which is calculated into your GPA as a 0?

    If you can wait until you've received your midterm grade, then do so. And if it's clear from your average that you realistically cannot pass the class, then by all means withdraw with a W if it's still possible to do so. 

    Because, if you're struggling to get a 75% on the homework, on which you can spend as much time as you like with an open book, it's unlikely that you're going to ace the final to bring your grade up to passing. It's easy for Expat to say "work hard and pull your grade up" but there's only so much you can do with a month left in the semester. 

    And graduate schools won't care at all if there are a few Ws on your transcript. Don't make a habit of it (like a W every semester) but two or three are fine, even expected. 

    That said, if you've already passed the "withdraw with a W" deadline and are in the "WF" zone, then you might as well keep going and try to pass. A zero in your GPA is a zero in your GPA; it doesn't matter whether it comes from a WF or an F (actually, if your college has grade replacement/forgiveness, it might be better coming from an F than a WF; check your college's grade replacement policy).

    The only real issue is if the "withdraw with a W" deadline is about to pass and you don't know your midterm grade yet. You might have done better than expected. Are you going to kick yourself if you withdraw, and your midterm grade turned out to be, say, an 80?

    If so, you might want to talk to your professor (office hours). Fs don't look good for them, either, so she might be willing to release your midterm grade a little early. 

  • Expat
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    Not a good precedent for life after graduation if as soon as things become very challenging you quit. It’s midterm, not the very end; why not put your head down, study, get some help from a classmate or see your professor during office hours and pull it up? But that’s just me. 

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