General Education

4 Ways To Successfully Pass A Class You’re Not Good At

4 Ways To Successfully Pass A Class You’re Not Good At
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Molly Pennington, PhD profile
Molly Pennington, PhD April 9, 2014

It’s perfectly normal to have classes you enjoy and classes you struggle with. Here are ways you can do well in the subjects that are more difficult to nail down.

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You probably have subjects that you thrive in, and others that are more difficult for you. Very few people have academic strengths across the board. Having strengths in some classes and weaknesses in others is totally normal.

Once you get to college, you will probably major in one of the subjects that you're strongest in. But in middle and high school and during the first few years of college, you get a broad, well-rounded education. So you're going to have to learn how to succeed in classes that don't represent your strongest suit.

You may think that you just need to try harder, but studies show that cramming doesn't work in the long term. Instead, focus on your strengths. Here are four ways that help you hone in on the assets that you already have going for you:

# 1. Discover Your Learning Style

The best approach doesn't come from the material. It comes from you. You need to figure out how you learn best. What is your learning style?

There are three basic learning styles:

  • Visual: You learn by seeing and visualizing information. You understand graphs, videos, and charts.
  • Auditory: You learn by hearing information. You're able to retain lecture information, and you remember what you hear.
  • Kinesthetic: You learn by doing. You thrive in groups and learn best through collaboration and interaction.

Once you know how you learn best, you can apply the best strategies to your difficult class.

# 2. Get Motivated

You're most successful when you're motivated. But you need to be the driving force behind that motivation — not someone else, like your teacher or parent. There are many ways to get motivated, but one of the most useful is to set goals. Goal-setting can take place over the course of the next hour, or the next few years.

You may already have a long-term goal (like pass the course with a certain grade), but remember to think small too. A goal could be that you will master one key concept. Working toward your goal will keep you motivated. And don't forget to schedule in rewards!

# 3. Take Your Time

If you want to succeed in your difficult class, you have to give it the proper time. You can't rush. Allow yourself extra study time for the classes that are harder for you. Take small steps. It will also be helpful to break down information into smaller chunks. Use a study style where you look at the whole subject, but also at the smaller parts. Breaking down the subject, makes it manageable and gives you more confidence.

# 4. Create Confidence

Don't make the mistake of accepting that you're just not good at math, or writing, or science or whichever subject you struggle with. That might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And besides, it's just not true. You'll find that if you study in the learning style that suits you, find ways to motivate yourself and take your time, you will create confidence in yourself. That confidence will translate to a measurable success in your difficult course.

Believe that you can improve, and you will.


Back to school: cramming doesn't work in the long run. (n.d.). Retrieved from Association for Psychological Science

Dr Higby. (n.d.). The best study skills - five strategies you need to know and use. Retrieved from Memory Improvement Tips

Quiñones, E. (n.d.). Not a good test taker? consider your learning style. Retrieved from Noodle

Tomel, S. (2013, July 17). How to motivate yourself to succeed. Retrieved from Huffington Post


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