Not keeping up in class?...5 reasons why you shouldn't be worried

Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only person in class that just doesn’t get it? That everyone else is doing brilliantly while you’re left behind? 

We’ve put together this guide to help you shake off insecurity and gain the confidence you need to succeed.


1. You're not alone.

Thousands and thousands of students are feeling like this right now. There will be some in all of your classes. The feeling is even more common if you’ve moved to a new school or college, got new teachers, started new subjects or moved up a level. New and unfamiliar situations can be unsettling. 

I know exactly how you feel because I was the same at the start of A-levels and its a big step from GCSE; I was shocked!


Different students react to new situations in different ways. Some appear over-confident, answering every question, laughing and joking and appearing to own the classroom. 

These types of students can be pretty intimidating but don’t think they’re better than you. Those who shout the loudest don’t always get the best grades.

This was me at the beginning of year 12, this is practically most people tbh. Your confidence DOES affect your grades massively. If you think you'll fail, you'll be your own self-fulfilling prophecy.


Not having the confidence to speak up about the things you don’t understand is an anxiety for lots of people, but remember you’re not going to be the only one feeling confused by a new topic. Others will be feeling the same and they’re also sat in class wondering whether they should speak up.

2. It’s early days

OK, the work seems hard, you’re not sure about some of it and maybe your early grades aren’t that good. But remember you’re only a few weeks into your new courses. If you’re not getting the grades you want right now, you’ve still got a lot of time to make that right. 

For my part, I felt like I was drowning and no-one was throwing me a rope. Well, in a year or two's time all that you'll look at are the final grades, and those grades are not going to be the same the same as what you're getting on tests now. You have a perfectly adequate amount of time to turn things around.


Remember that when you do your summer exams you’ll be revising and prepping for weeks in advance (hopefully!), so the grades you’re getting now probably don’t reflect what you’re capable of come next summer.

Don't worry too much - it's early days and you have plenty of time to pick up. What really matters is how well you do at the end of the year. Also, check the tests you got back to see what you can improve on.

Looking in mirror

3. You're probably comparing yourself to others

Whatever it is you’re doing, you'll find some people will be better than you and others won't be as good. That’s life. It’s a common reaction when teachers return work to immediately find out how everyone else got on but this isn’t helpful. There’s only one person to compare yourself to and that is you. 

Put in the effort and revise as much as you can and you will get there! If you want the grade, motivate yourself and try not to focus too much on how other people are doing.


Focus on your own studies, look carefully at feedback from your teacher and act on it, try to keep improving. Repeat work that doesn’t meet your personal targets. Set yourself some realistic aims for the end of term and make sure you put the work in to achieve them. 

Knowledge is more important than intelligence. Take your time and work until you're satisfied you know it. Learning is not some competition, it's a personal journey.


Be honest with yourself: did you put in the effort for that last piece of homework? Have you asked your teacher about the best ways to prepare for a test? Did you do all the reading you needed to do before writing an essay? Be prepared to change your study habits and put more time in.

Open Sign

5. There's lots of support available

You don’t have to suffer in silence. Make sure you ask for advice from your teachers (that’s what they’re there for, after all). Or if you have a friend studying the same topics, why not help each other? 

The TSR community are amazingly helpful too. They have lots of ideas about how to shake up your study.

This was me in year 12 (last year) especially in biology. What I found was that it really helped if after each lesson/in frees I would make my own notes on what we covered in class and made flashcards. Learn all the material as soon as you do it and you'll feel more confident and get better grades!



Your first step in all your subjects should be to print out the specification for your specific courses and to keep track of what chapters you finish when. Every time you finish a chapter, write yourself a study guide for that specific chapter of all the content you can find: use your textbooks, notes and any online revision sites you may find useful. (I personally only used the first two, but I was very lucky with my teachers, who gave us all the information needed.) Your study guides can be in whatever format you like - handwritten notes, typed notes with Google images for diagrams, hand-drawn mind map/brain storm papers, index cards, whatever - but they have to contain tidy, easily-understood compilation of all the knowledge you will need for exams.


I found that making notes from the textbook outside of lessons really helped secure my understanding of a topic and if I still didn't get it I'd talk to my teacher next lesson.


I went to college a bit earlier and revised the last subjects and what I was expecting the teacher to do so I had an idea on what they would teach and I printed out some past papers and the grading sheets, I also used a lot of the basic things like mind maps and flash cards, note taking from the text book. It all turned out well for me I start the University of Liverpool tomorrow!


Have you ever felt like the person at the bottom of the class? What did you do to overcome this?