10 Ways to Turn Things Around When You're Failing a Class

If you're currently failing a class, things can seem hopeless. But a failing grade doesn't have to be a permanent condition - you can take certain steps to turn things around. Here are some ideas to help you get started.


1. Get help.

Maybe your professor isn't explaining concepts well, or maybe you need a little extra time to master the material. Online help resources can help you learn the material at your own pace and review it until you've mastered it. Check out Study.com's lessons in math, science, English, history, and more and learn the material from engaging, easy-to-understand lessons.

2. Re-order your priorities.

If schoolwork isn't the first thing on your priority list, you need to change that immediately. It's one thing to take a relaxed approach to academics if it's actually working for you, but if you're in danger of failing a class, that approach is clearly not working.

3. Talk to your professor.

You may be struggling because of some easy-to-fix problems that your professor can quickly help you identify. Even if this isn't the case, letting your professor know that you're aware of your poor performance and that you want to do something about it can end up being helpful in the long run. Professors can give extra help or set you up with a tutor who is particularly strong in areas that are causing you problems.

4. Go the extra mile.

If there are extra or optional assignments you can do, make sure you do them. This can help wash out big things that can bring your grade down, like failing a major test or assignment. Also, going above and beyond will help show your professor that you're serious about the class.

5. Be realistic.

If you're absolutely struggling with no hope in sight, you might need to take stock of whether continuing down the path of failure is a good idea. It might make more sense to drop the class and get a better foundation of understanding before attempting it again.

6. Consider pass/fail.

Some schools allow students in dire straits to opt to take certain classes on a pass/fail basis. This may give your professor the opportunity to give you a pass on the merits of your efforts. A 'pass' grade in this scenario won't be treated the same as getting an A, so it's not going to save your hide entirely; you'll still likely take a big ding to your GPA. But you'll also be able to use the credit.

7. Examine your options.

If pass/fail isn't an option at your school or in a particular class, find out what else you can do to prevent yourself from taking a hit both to your GPA and your credit status. You might have to pick one or the other to save - for instance, you might be able to drop the class mid-semester, saving your GPA, but you won't get a credit. An academic advisor or the student services office at your school should be able to help you figure out what to do.

8. Lean on your classmates.

Even if you don't have close friends in your classes, there are probably at least a couple of students in every class that you're friendly with. If these students are doing well in the class, explain your situation to them and ask for their help. See if they'd be willing to look over major assignments, like papers or lab reports, before you turn them in. Their input might help you turn things around.

9. Study your failures.

It can be really hard to stare your shortcomings right in the face, but it's a necessary evil if you want to understand what you're doing wrong. If you get back a test, paper or other assignment that's covered with red marks, make sure you understand why they're there and what the correct answers would have been. If you professor isn't the type to leave comments on your assignments, visit them with your graded tests and ask them to elaborate.

10. Don't give up.

Things may seem hopeless, but resigning yourself to failure is the only way to guarantee a lack of success. Sticking with it and working hard to turn things around is likely to pay off - and even if it doesn't, at least you can say that you did your best. Sometimes putting in the effort is what makes the difference in a professor's mind between a student who deserves to fail and a student who deserves to pass.

This guide to regaining academic focus might also be helpful.

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