It can be hard to improve grades when you’ve gotten a failing mark on a midterm or a big assignment, but it’s definitely not impossible!
We talk a lot about how to go from a B average to an A average, or how to bring your work to that next level. But I don’t often see a lot of posts on what to do if you’re flat out failing a class. I have worked through this with so many of my friends, and it’s something we need to talk about!
I have some good news for you: this is definitely not the end of the world!
If you’re failing a class, a test, and assignment–anything, there are some steps you can take to improve grades you let slip earlier, so let’s talk about it.
1. Be honest with yourself about the problem
Why is it that you’re failing? Are you completely disillusioned with your major and have no idea what you want to do with your life? That’s a legitimate thing to address. It’s not something that makes you lesser than that kid who’s been geared up for their paediatric cardio fellowship since September of 1st year. It really doesn’t. No one likes that kid anyway (trust me, I’m that kid). All this means is that it might be time to take a step back and really figure out what you want out of life. Maybe that means finding a new major. Maybe that means taking a break from school to work for a year. Whatever it is, do what will work for you.
Maybe that’s not the issue at all–maybe the problem is more about bad habits you have acquired (we’ve all been there). Look at where you’re spending your time. Are you spending hours in front of Netflix, or scrolling aimlessly through facebook? Time management can be difficult to master–goodness knows I haven’t yet–but there are some easy steps you can take to gain a little bit of that control back. I’ve written quite a few posts on this so instead of saying the same thing over and over I’ll just point you to those:
- The Freshman’s Guide to College Day 9: Tips for Time Management
- When Motivation is Hard to Find
- 10 Ways to Get Organized This School Year
2. Study the feedback you receive
I know that it can be painful to look at the essay after it’s been ripped to shreds by your professor or TA’s red pen, but you need to do it. There’s really no other way to know where you need to improve. See if there are common themes of things that you need to improve, such as requiring more structured arguments or if you need to watch for grammar mistakes.
If you did poorly on an exam, ask your TA if you can review it during office hours. Take note of what parts you did better or worse on–do you kill multiple choice but struggle with short and long answer questions? That’s good to know. That’ll show you what you need to work on in your studying for later.
The feedback you get is the key to levelling up your college game. None of us start college knowing how to write the perfect research paper or the best way to study for midterms–we learn these skills as we go.
3. Talk to your professor or TA
I know that talking to your professors can be intimidating, but if you’re failing a class it’s just something you’ve got to do. Take the assignment or the test to their office hours and ask what areas you could have improved on. You need to review it on your own, as well, but your professor may be able to explain it better or give you resources to help with certain issues you are struggling with. As well, your professor and/or TA are the keys to passing that course, and if you make an effort to apply what they teach you, your grades will improve.
Related: How I Take Notes in Class
4. Utilize on-campus resources
Even if you’re meeting with your professor, it’s unlikely that he or she will be able to help you very much with the actual writing or studying process. So, after you’ve read your feedback and talked to your professor, look for mentoring and writing help centres on your campus. These centres will be able to give you help with how to study or how to write a college paper, and some will even go through mock exams with you to teach you exam-writing skills. The one that I worked at had a whole workshop series on how to write essays for exams that many people found very helpful.
Usually these resources are free for their students, so use them to your advantage and gain some skills to help you save the semester!
5. Start using Chegg’s college resources
Seriously, guys, I love this company. When I got the e-mail to work with them, I was so excited, because I’ve used their resources before!
Chegg is your go-to resource hub for college students. They buy and sell textbooks for extremely reasonable prices* (and you all know how much I love saving money on textbooks) and even rent them at affordable rates*. As well, they have textbook solutions online for a ton of books, and if your book isn’t on their solutions page, or if you just need extra help, they have a tutoring team (free trial here*) who is there to answer any question you have at any moment!
To show you how it works, I decided to use a question that I get asked a TON by my friends I’ve tutored in the past for psychology.
I clicked on “tutor,” then typed in that I needed help with psychology, and it took me to a new page where it gave me the instructions:
And it’s really that easy. I just typed in my question, and then clicked submit!
Within an hour I got an e-mail from a tutor with a document explaining the two different types of conditioning, which included graphics and tables to help explain concepts better. I thought it was extremely well done!
The other great thing about Chegg, though, is that tutoring by e-mail is not the only option! There are live tutoring sessions available if you need one-on-one interactive help, too, for virtually any subject. I am actually super excited about these guys, and high recommend them!
Don’t take my word for it, though–try it out for FREE*! You get one week at no membership charge, including 30 minutes of tutoring time to try out their services before you commit, no strings attached. I highly recommend this company, so give it a shot–you won’t be disappointed!
Coming back from a failing grade or even just a mediocre mark sure isn’t fun, but it’s completely possible! Try out these five tips and let me know how it goes for you!
What are your best tips to improve grades that you’re not so happy about?
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