Asking for a Friend: Help! How can I be successful when I failed my mock IB exams?

  • This week we talk about seeing the positive side of failure, finding the motivation to be true to yourself after Covid-19 lockdown, and overcoming jealousy
  • If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help you
Amalissa Hall |

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Don't let others' expectations get the better of you.

Hi Friend

Since I failed my IB Biology test, I’ve been feeling disappointed and sad. I memorised everything I needed to know, but still got a bad mark. I really want to get an overall grade of 40 or above and go to my dream university. However, I’ve begun to ask myself, what is the point of working hard, if I won’t end up at my dream university just because of these marks?

People always say “you can do it if you have a good mindset”, but even if I had one, would that actually make me smarter? I believe that people need to work hard to have a successful career, but does it really matter at the end of the day?

Feeling Like A Failure

Hi Feeling

You know those Coldplay lyrics “When you try your best but you don’t succeed”? Sometimes, that’s what happens. Start by speaking to your teacher about where you went wrong. Look over your test and highlight the areas you struggled with. Instead of memorising the information, really try to understand how to apply the theories. You might have to try different studying methods to do this.

I don’t know how to open up about my problems – it doesn’t feel manly. Help!

I agree with the notion that you need a good mindset to succeed, but that doesn’t mean just studying hard. Having a good mindset means applying purpose to your learning, so you have motivation to do it. Perhaps you need to reassess your motivations for learning?

Working hard is also about experiencing failure, and turning it into something positive. You failed a test, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed the course! The most successful people in life have faced more failures than most people. They’re successful because they get up and keep trying.

My final IB score was much, much lower than my prediction, and I didn’t get into my dream university, so I had to go to my second choice. I was so upset and thought that my future prospects were gone. But you know what? It was the best decision I ever made, and I ended up with the career I wanted anyway!

There is no single path to get to where you want to go. Yes, you can have a plan, but life doesn’t adhere to plans and anything can change for any reason. Learn to adapt, and learn to accept that there are other ways to achieve your dreams.

Working hard is important and definitely worth it, but there are other aspects to hard work beyond just studying course material. Forget about this bad grade, it’s not going to help you! Study for the next test with the intention to learn because you want to, not because you have to, and see if that changes anything.

Even if things don’t go exactly the way you want them to, all hope is not lost. You will find your own version of success.

Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

Hi Friend

My two best friends and I are a squad, however, I’m starting to feel like a third wheel in the friendship. I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about this in case I come off as jealous and insecure – but I guess in a way, I am. Am I overthinking things? What should I do?

The Third Wheel

Hi Third Wheel

In a three-way friendship, it’s difficult to equally be friends. It’s pretty natural for people to pair off, and subsequently, there will always be a third wheel. Don’t overthink it though; this could be caused by a lack of communication.

Am I cheating on my girlfriend if I comment on other girls’ IG posts?

If you guys are a squad, you should be honest with them. They may not even know that they’re making you feel this way. Telling them “I’m feeling left out” won’t make you sound jealous or insecure, and hopefully they’ll understand where you’re coming from and include you more.

I think you should initiate plans with each of them individually, so you can improve your friendships with them. You could also try to invite other people to hang out with you. It’s less likely you’ll be left out in a bigger group. Maybe find a fourth friend for your squad, so you can pair off evenly!

Take note if you feel like you’re being left out on purpose though. If you are, there is no reason why you can’t walk away from this friendship and make other friends. Not all friendships last forever, and there’s nothing wrong with that, so don’t feel obliged to stay under the guise of being a squad when you’re not being treated well!

Hope this helps, Friend of a Friend

Dear Friend of A Friend

I used to be a highly motivated table tennis player. I’ve been playing since I was in preschool and it has been a huge part of my life . I play well and my parents have spent a lot of money (which they can’t really afford) on private coaches and camps and away games.

With the lockdown and things being cancelled, I haven’t played for months, and I’ve been thinking that I really don’t want to go back to it. I’ve enjoyed FaceTiming with my friends, playing computer games, and just having things not be so rushed and panicked all the time.

The more that I’ve thought about it, the more table tennis seems really pointless. Actually, I can’t believe I’ve wasted so much time on it, when I could have been doing other things.

So now I feel guilty, like I’m a fraud, because of all the effort and money my parents have invested. They like to tell their friends how good I am, and show off my medals and certificates. But I’m so over it.

Is your quest for perfection leading to depression?

Also, going back to school, I have to pick up where I left off on the team, and I just can’t do it. My coach says some people are feeling depressed or lazy after being away for such a long time, but I don’t think that’s what I feel.

What do I do?

Thanks, Over It

Hi Over It

It’s understandable you feel this way, because it sounds like this is your parents’ dream, not yours. It might feel like an impossible task to admit to your parents that you don’t want to do this any more, but I think it’s best to try to have this conversation soon before they invest any more money into it.

The thing is, you’ll need to give a justifiable reason for quitting. You can tell them you don’t want to play because you don’t have a passion for it any more, but if they ask you what you’re going to do and you say “play video games”, I doubt they’ll be very happy.

Is there anything else you want to pursue? Your parents pushed you to do this because they saw your potential and knew you would be great, which was proven by your medals and certificates, and so they will always want you to be successful in some way. Think about other things you could do instead, to give your parents peace of mind about your decisions.

Because you still live under their roof, you may have to appease them and finish what they started for you. Then, when you’re of an age to make decisions for yourself, you can stop. Would it be possible to compromise with them at all? So, for example, you will continue to play table tennis, if they can give you opportunities to do what you want to do?

It is easy to feel resentful and to feel like you’ve wasted time, but at the end of the day, parents only want the best for you, and in their minds, setting you up to be a successful table tennis player early on was their version of the best. It may be difficult to see right now, but your parents have given you tools that may come in useful for the future.

Although there will be disagreements and tension for the foreseeable future, with open communication and an alternative plan, I’m sure your parents will eventually accept that you want to take a different path.

Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

This column is here to answer all your difficult or embarrassing questions about being a teenager. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to overcome particular situations at home, school, in your social lives or even in the animal kingdom, our “Friend of a Friend” is an expert to help provide answers for you!

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