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