February 7, 2020, by Jem

How to Process Feedback

Every now and then, you will receive feedback for an essay and discover that some of your points and ideas have been rejected. Here are some coping mechanisms:


Entertain the possibility that the marker is subject to certain biases that have prevented them from fully understanding the full meaning of your ideas. Then, become convinced of it. The marker is biased against you. This will help kill the spider – the lurking thought that will, from time to time, leap out and cry: “Perhaps your essay was flawed.”

“No chance,” you can respond, quick and hard like a palm in your mind, “the marker has it in for me.”


Any piece of feedback will offer some ‘Suggestions for improvement’. The first thing to remember here is that whatever advice they give is only a ‘suggestion’, which is similar to a film recommendation and does not have to be followed.

Knowing that the marker is biased against you, you should also consider whether they may be using ‘suggestions’ to lead you up the garden path, to deliberately give poor advice, to pull you from the road to scholar and set you on the road to ruin.

Comments like ‘Stick to fact’, ‘Try not to meander’, ‘Focus on the essay question’ – these are written by someone who is powerfully bent against you. The misdirection is blatant. You cannot and will not allow yourself to fall prey to tricks. The truth is, if you want to cope with feedback properly, you must abandon trust of all things that could possibly be attached to this marker, i.e. anything relevant to university: campus, a trick; the geese, a trick; Boots, a trick. If you want to dodge the brute impact of the marker’s words, you must see everything as a lie.


If a certain idea of yours has been rejected or labelled a ‘reach’, a ‘stretch’, ‘naïve’, and ‘impossible’, dig your heels into the ground, stand firm, do not budge, you wrote that point with stern-browed conviction and will not drop the claim that the early, the middle, and the late works of Dr. Seuss were all unspeakably dark.

Posted in Jem