Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only person in class that just doesn’t get it?
Does everyone else seem to be doing brilliantly while you’re left behind?
We’ve put this guide together 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, have new teachers, started new subjects or moved up a level. New and unfamiliar situations can be unsettling for anyone.
I feel like everyone in my classes is so smart and I'm always stumbling behind them. Don't get me wrong, my GCSE results were quite high so I must be slightly intelligent. But I just feel so inadequate amongst people who pick things up right away.
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.
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.
4. Focus on your own improvement
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.
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 friends studying the same topics, why not help each other?
The TSR community are amazingly helpful too. Start a Grow your Grades blog and get help from the most supportive student community in the universe.
Why not connect with other students on TSR?
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