This question is somehow related to Retaking an exam to improve a low, but passing grade. Why do universities not allow this?

I have received the first bad (but still successful) grade in my studies. I will not let it bring me down, but, certainly, my academic career, for which I hope, will be violated.

How can I correct this? Are there prospects to retake the course full? Maybe in some other university, maybe as a free-standing module (as a free listener - Universities allow them to study along the regular students) and then I can add this certification to my papers? Or maybe I can write some papers in the field and establish some reputation?

Our country (Easter European country) has very strict addmission criteria to PhD studies based on the grades.

  • 3
    If PhD admissions are based on the grades you earned during your degree, then I don't see how there's much you can do about this. I'm wondering, though, whether the influence of a single grade is really as extreme as you seem to assume. Are there a significant number of students in your country and field who never have a bad grade? (For context, I'm working in mathematics in Germany, and I would consider a single bad grade to be essentially meaningless, unless maybe it's in an advanced course that is very close to the topic of the PhD project.) Feb 1 at 10:40
  • 2
    And, these days, going to another country in Europe for a PhD is not uncommon.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 1 at 13:11
  • We can't tell you what your university's retake policy is. Feb 1 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


For people that did well in their Secondary School / High School, the first bad grades at University come as quite a shock.

As a person that has tutored about 100 university students over a 15 year period, let me state, "In High School you can get by being clever, relying on the intelligence you already have. At University, success is mostly a function of how much work you do."

Your first bad grade is not a detriment or failure, it's a wake up call to do more work. You may not be able to achieve an "A" in the class, depending on how bad the grade was, but in the scope of your entire degree, you should have enough classes to not overly impact your final GPA.

Now, if you find that you are consistently getting "just not good enough" grades, then you might need to readjust your likelihood of getting into a PhD program. It is easy to dream of getting into desirable programs, and alas many people fail to obtain the few spots that are available (grades being only one reason).

And if you find you're getting poor grades because your prior learning has not yet prepared you for the class, you probably should drop the class (regardless of your grade) and seek to fill any educational gaps as your next exam will likely not be better.

As for PhD programs, many of them maintain different GPA requirements for "in discipline" classes and "not in discipline" classes. How you decide should depend on where you want to go, and how they evaluate their candidates.

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