How to pick yourself up after failing an assessment

Didn’t pass the assessment? Don’t despair. Follow motivational expert David Thomas’ five-point game plan to improve your chances next time round.

Think ‘motivation’ rather than ‘confidence’

Being confident about something you’ve never done before doesn’t work. I could be ‘confident’ about playing the violin, but I’ve never played one in my life. To become truly good at something, you need motivation.

Get the conditions right

When people take practice assessment papers at home, they usually do it while music or the TV is blaring in the background.

They’ll interrupt their studies to eat. When sitting the assessment itself, the biggest problem is silence. The brain panics because it’s not used to the quiet. Try recreating assessment conditions at home to prepare yourself.

Remind yourself of past successes

Any time you think “I can’t do this”, reflect on previous accomplishments and remind yourself that you can achieve what you set out to do.

Embrace your fear

Fear can be a very useful tool to increase your motivation, believe it or not. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of motivation is fear-driven.

So channel your fear into the right places, visualising how you’ll feel if you don’t get your qualifications.


Before reading anything, try a short breathing exercise.

Breathe in for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, and breathe out. Repeat that five times and you’ll be astonished by the difference it makes to your state of mind.

Browse the full range of AAT study support resources here

David Thomas is a motivational expert and Sunday Times #1 bestselling author.

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