Purpose: The authors examined Health Sciences students’ willingness to reflect on an academic failure at the students’ point-of-entrance into university in order to gauge how students’ willingness to engage in reflective tasks might be predictive of their subsequent academic success and, ultimately, of their potential to become health professionals.

Methods: Following Health Sciences students’ failure on an English diagnostic test, the authors determined the proportion of 568 Health Sciences students who voluntarily reviewed or did not review (SR and SNR respectively) their failed tests before sitting a second-chance test 60 days later. The authors then compared the improvements between SR and SNR on the second-chance test and determined three relationships: 1) whether SR or SNR showed greater improvement on the second-chance test; 2) whether SR or SNR had higher mean marks in their four requisite Health Sciences courses; 3) if SR were more likely to be subsequently placed in a health professional programme.

Results: 42% (N=237) of students chose not to review their test after failing it and being advised that they could review the test. Those same students were already performing at a lower level on this first test for their Reading Comprehension (F(1,566)= 5.608, p=0.18) and Listening Comprehension (F(1,566)=4.117, p = 0.043). While SR improved more than did SNR when they sat the second test, reviewing the failed test did not significantly correlate with improved success on the second test. However, SR achieved higher mean marks across their four requisite Health Sciences courses than did SNR (Wald’s Z = 8.015, p Wald’s Z = 3.108, p = 0.002) and were more likely to be offered a place in a professional programme (Wald’s Z = 3.108, p = 0.002).

Conclusions: Choosing to engage in a relatively simple reflective task following an initial failure predicts subsequent academic success for our Health Sciences students and their potential of becoming health professionals.