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I’m a first-year Ph.D. student in STEM who recently took their qualifying exams, in which we take two. I absolutely failed one and passed the other with flying colors (according to a faculty member). Luckily, in my department, I only have to take the one I did not pass. In terms of why I failed, it was a combination of choking and being deficient in one course which I thought could be remedied by self-studying, however, I did not put in the time. In that regard, I absolutely take the blame.

I am stressed about the future because I believe I embarrassed my advisor* by performing quite poorly. As such, he may have revaluated his opinion of me, which could lead to possible termination. After getting the results, he has not spoken to me about what happened. Without trying to come off as a narcissist, I was recruited by him given my strong research background and graduate coursework from my bachelor’s, which allowed me to start doing research the first semester of my doctoral program. As such, from the very start, I believe there was a lot of pressure to pass the exams with ease.

Given that I am unsure what he is thinking, would it be appropriate to contact him to clear the air? I assumed he would bring it up, but I can now see two things happening: We don’t speak of it or he will approach me at a later time. This summer interim it was planned I would continue with research.

TLDR: I failed one of two qualifying exams and am unsure of my future with my advisor given that I have already started research. Should I approach him about it, and how should I continue forward?

*I apologize if this concern comes off as silly, however, I was raised in a household where honor, integrity, and face are extremely important.