Why I Failed An EASY English Exam

A few years ago, I failed the easiest English exam I had ever taken because of a silly mistake

Here’s the story.

I wanted to study translation at a national university in Argentina and to be accepted to the program, I had to pass a few exams that were designed to test my fluency and English ability.

Needless to say, they were all very easy.

For example, the assignment on the writing exam was to create a short 150-word story, which I could have done in 5 minutes.

I thought that was too easy…

So, instead, I decided to spend two hours writing a clever little tale with a surprising twist of events.

My final draft was over 2 pages long, and I proudly turned it in before marching out the door to catch the train home.

The next week, while the teacher passed back the graded tests, I could hardly contain my excitement. I was sure I had greatly impressed her with my fantastic writing ability.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Seconds later, I was holding my exam and staring down at a big, fat 3 written on the front.

Yup, I had failed.

It didn’t matter that my story was cool or that my grammar was perfect. It didn’t matter that it was FUNNY or that I had spent two hours writing it. What mattered was that the test had very specific requirements, and I didn’t follow them.

So, when all the non-native English speakers who had failed were re-taking that test, guess who was in the room retaking it with them.


I’m sure you can imagine how embarrassing that was… lesson learned… Sometimes it’s OK to break the rules, but not on tests.

So, when you take tests, make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them. Don’t try to be clever or creative. Tests are designed to examine your abilities in very specific ways. And as long as you give the examiners what they want, you will PASS every single time.

Shortly after failing this exam I realized that translation wasn’t for me, although my decision had nothing to do with this exam. I think this anecdote is funny, but I also cringe every time I remember my silly mistake.

Hopefully, this never happens to you!

Anyhow, have you ever made a big mistake on an exam, project, or assignment? What happened? What lesson did you learn? 

Feel free to share your response in the comments. 🙂

Written by Stefanie

Hi! I’m Stefanie and I am NOT a fan of traditional English classes. They are boring, slow, and ineffective. As a language learner myself (fluent in Spanish and learning French, Italian, and Portuguese), I know EXACTLY what it takes to master a language - and surprisingly it has nothing to do with worksheets, textbooks, or memorizing vocabulary. That’s why I created English FULL:TIME. It has helped thousands of people around the world learn REAL English and get REAL life-changing results! Life is too short to waste time and money on expensive, poorly designed English courses. If you agree, start transforming your English today with one of my FREE guides.


  1. Ajeet Kumar Singh

    Hi ma’am, yes, I also flunked the examination of BA 1st year. Actually, I was in science stream earlier. But I had to go for Arts stream because of some problems. I took the arts stream not very seriously and I failed. Finally, I realized that every tests has its own rules that we have to abide by.

  2. Stefanie, The English Coach

    Yeah, every test definitely has its own rules. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Ajeet! 🙂

  3. Marcilio Albuquerque

    This story is not the most suitable for me to leave a comment. I don’t have any previous experience on this subject. But I think It must be something really bad… a really big mistake!!! Breaking the rules and failing an exam like this must be at least embarrassing (LOL). Really embarrassing, in fact(LOL). But, actually, I have never made a big mistake like that one on your funny anecdote because I never tried something like this, not even an simple exam to to be accepted at any course, never been at any English Schools, except in 2007, when I tried to study at CCAA – Pça 14 Manaus. But there was no need to pass any exams to be accepted there. They just wanted my money. I even met a really good teacher there, called ANDREA PACHECO (Instagram: andreapachecomiglionico)… I don’t remember exactly…it’s been a long time…ten years I guess…Unfortunately, I DROPPED OUT after THE FIRST MONTH because lack of money. Never been at any other places to study English, neither before nor after that. Since then, I’ve been learning English by myself. Actually, I’ve already been doing this about 2 decades ago, long before this happened. Basically, learning from people like you. But THANKS FOR LET ME PRACTICING MY WRITING HERE. I DON’T DO IT MORE OFTEN. Hey, teacher, I found you anecdote really funny. Sorry for the capital letters in the middle of the comment.

    Thank you so much indeed.
    I appreciated it.

  4. Stefanie, The English Coach

    Well, never having failed an exam is a really good thing… so I’m glad you don’t have a story to share about it! haha

  5. Rene Enriquez

    Hey Stef,

    Let me share with you one of my stories, it’s not related to English but with another subject in High School.

    I used to bare study for exams or so in High Scholl, because I was so lazy haha, I remember one time I decided to really study for Science, and I was so proud about the knowledge that I gained after a few hours of dedicated time to this stuff.

    When I went to the exam, I felt really comfortable and when the teacher gave us the sheets, I was so happy with the questions because I knew every single answer. After read them carefully I started to write the answers and I was so stupid because instead of writing one or three words, I wrote unnecessarily big sentences. 2 days later the teacher back us the exam and he talked with me in this way:

    I know you knew the answers, but why you did that, the answers are longest than they have to, and in some questions, you misunderstood them and you answered other stuff. Anyways, since I noticed you really studied this time I gave you some credit for your answers, but this won’t happen again. Please keep your answers as short as they have to the next time.

    The curious thing is I didn’t study again for that subject and I had the same score than when I studied. This is probably not a good advice or story to share with my son, but that’s the real life haha

  6. Michaela

    Well, I know what I’m about to say has nothing to do with this but I wasted 8 years of my life in a fake relationship and because of that I never worked or study, so, now I’m here trying getting back to what I liked before, that is English hahahaha thanks for your attention

  7. Mariam

    Yeas.that happened to me today.it was flex exam and I participated for the first time.I thought that is would be soon easy I will absolutely pass it…..
    BUT. I fails. I am so disaapointed. I don’t even know what was my mistake.

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