Using Feedback to Move Forward

Whether you are pleased with your assessment results or disappointed, this short guide can help you to get the most out of your feedback.

Firstly, understanding your result...

Grades in University are usually lower than in school or college, so your mark may be better than you think!

70% and above 1st Excellent, keep up the good work!
60% - 69.9% 2:1 Very good, could you push this to a 1st?
50% - 59.9% 2:2 Good, use your feedback to improve.
40% - 49.9% 3rd Pass, use your feedback to improve and explore Study Skills support.
Under 40% Fail This may be disappointing, but you can use your feedback to learn how to improve in the future.

I've done well, but can I do better?

strawberry.jpg Learn from your feedback 

  • Consider the feedback and note any areas for development
  • Re-read feedback a day or two after you receive it so you can consider any points raised objectively
  • Ensure you take any positive feedback on board
  • Identify the main areas for improvement that will have the most impact on your marks. If you are not sure how to do this, speak to your lecturer or contact Student Development and Study Skills. They have helpful Academic Skills guides for:

  1. Writing
  2. Referencing
  3. Researching
  4. Analysing
  5. Reflecting

The Library is a wonderful resource to help you in your studies. Try the Getting Started Guide - the Basics Tab is the place to start, followed by one of the Campus tabs.

Tips from students...

"First, I look at the overall mark. Usually, I then go through each section of written feedback to see the positive and negative points of my work, referring back to each section as I go to remind myself of what I had written."

"I highlight the bits I think will be most helpful, and write them on post it notes ready for further work. I focus on improvements which I can make, and try to see my downfalls and strengths."

*Taken from the How to Use Feedback Effectively – A Guide for Students

cactus read.jpgWhat does my feedback mean?

If you are not sure about some of the terms your lecturer has used, the Glossary* on this page can help. If you are still unsure of your results or feedback, we recommend speaking with your lecturer

I haven't done that well, what can I do? mirror_car.jpg

Firstly, acknowledge your result

Things did not quite go to plan. You may not be able to change the grade, but by acknowledging it you can use this as a learning opportunity to improve.

Be honest with yourself

Did you do all of the following things that are necessary to succeed?

  • Manage your time effectively
  • Devise a study plan
  • Proofread your work

By answering these honestly, you can help pinpoint where you need to improve.

Tip - LinkedIn Learning has a great webinar on building resilience.


"We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve." - Bill Gates

"Your past doesn't equal your future" - Tony Robbins

"There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs" - Zig Ziglar

“Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”. - Pele 

"You have to go out there and make mistakes in order to learn. " Emma Watson 


Being too vague about a point by not explaining it in specific language, or by failing to ground it in theory or to use examples (see also ‘Concrete)

Make sure you’re answering the question that is being asked – students sometimes write about topics that miss the point. Make sure your arguments and material are relevant and clearly linked to the question, and you are not simply writing everything you know about the topic.

Weigh up aspects of the study and consider weaknesses that might undermine the validity of the study, and/or suggest ways the research could be improved. The weaknesses could be methodological, but may also be with how the authors interpret and present their own findings.

While it is often valuable to take a stance, be sure to present evidence for the other sides of the argument.

Make sure the reader can easily understand what points you have made by writing clearly, and explaining why you have made these points. Sometimes it is just a case of writing straightforwardly, and not assuming the reader will automatically know what you were thinking 

In your work, you need to explain ideas clearly but with fewer words – if you have a word limit, make effective use of it! The marker may think you are waffling. Be succinct and avoid needlessly complicated words and phrases

Make sure you are using clear and specific language to talk about a defined situation or a certain finding, not just vague ideas (see also ‘Abstract’).

Show that you have actively thought about and questioned the claims you are describing or making. Even if the claims are completely valid, show that you have not just accepted them at face value.

Make sure you explain your arguments in detail, using examples where appropriate and working through your ideas rather than simply glossing over them.

Showing a sophisticated or elegant writing style, or presenting evidence in an original and insightful way.   

Creating a coherent argument by connecting points in a logical order to ensure that the work is easy to follow.

Give examples to back up the points you make, ideally using evidence

Demonstrating your own thinking, perhaps by drawing upon research beyond the ones you learned about in class, to make an argument that not every student would have thought of.   

Reading work back carefully, or getting another person to read it, to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. You should also check that your arguments make sense, and that everything is phrased clearly.

Try and use more than just the material provided by the lecturers, and avoid basing too much of your work on just one or two references.  

Give a more precise and detailed account of what is being described, drawing on particular example

A way of presenting your work so the reader can follow the argument. Make sure your paragraphs are in a logical order, that you show the connections between different paragraphs, and that each section has good beginning and ending sentences.

Show how different sources and theories go together to make a good argument. A lack of synthesis could mean your essay reads more like a list of research than an argument.

Making sure that the thought-process, which underlies your argument is clearly expressed. Even if you have a good idea, it is not always easy for the marker to see your train of thought. 

An unsubstantiated claim lacks evidence. Make sure you justify your argument by supporting each point with empirical evidence and references. This will create a more persuasive argument.