How to Pass a Class

Four Methods:Salvaging a Poor GradeStrategizing for SuccessSeeking Outside HelpBecoming a Dedicated Student

Even the best and brightest student may eventually run into a class that they'll have serious trouble passing. If you're having difficulty with a certain subject, don't fret! There are many things you can do to improve your performance and avoid the dreaded "F." Be prepared to put in some hard work, take some time to understand how your grade will be determined, and don't be ashamed to ask for help if you need it.

Method 1
Salvaging a Poor Grade

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    Talk to the teacher. If you are struggling with a class, your first step should be to talk to the teacher and let him or her know you are struggling.[1] Your instructor should be able to offer you some insights on how to pass the class, and whether that is still even a possibility.
    • Many instructors will be able to give you helpful study tips or insights on how to perform better on assignments. In some cases, you might even be given an extension on assignments you are struggling to complete on time.
    • Try not to until the last minute to communicate with your teacher. If he or she doesn't hear from you until the end of a course, there may not be much that can be done at that stage even if the instructor would like to help. Further, if you don't communicate with the teacher early, she or he may assume you just don't care about your performance in the course.
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    Ask for a chance to revise. If you are at risk of failing a class because of work you did poorly, contact the instructor and ask if you might be allowed to revise and resubmit your assignment.
    • While you probably still won't be able to get full credit for a revised assignment, many instructors will be open to this possibility, because it shows you want to learn from your mistakes and improve your performance. For this reason, many instructors will be more open to this than offering extra credit opportunities.[2]
    • In making this request, explain that you would appreciate another opportunity to show you have mastered the material. Try to make it about demonstrating learning, not just about a grade.
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    Try to make up missed work. If you are at risk of failing a class because you missed an exam or assignment(s), ask about an opportunity to make up some or all of the missed work. Even if you only get partial credit for it, this is better than no credit at all.
    • If you have a course syllabus, look at what the instructor's policy is for late work. This will give you some sense of how likely it is your request will be granted.[3]
    • If you missed work for medical reasons, be prepared to show documentation of your illness if possible. Many instructors require this.
    • If you miss an assignment or exam due to illness, a crisis, or some other unavoidable situation, let your instructor know as soon as possible. You will be more likely to be given a chance to make up the work if you do so.
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    Find out about extra credit opportunities. Some teachers offer extra credit opportunities that allow students to add points to their final score in the class. These opportunities are often designed to supplement the primary assignments or give students a second chance to master skills.[4] Find out if your teacher offers any opportunities.
    • If you don't see any listed in the syllabus, it doesn't hurt to ask if there will be any opportunities of this sort. While many teachers are unlikely to create an extra credit assignment just for you, if enough people ask, he or she may offer an opportunity like this to all the students.
    • Do not beg for extra credit. Instead, think in advance about some reasons you can offer for why you should be granted an opportunity to earn extra points. Be prepared to make a strong case for your position. Arguments such as "I really need to pass this class" are unlikely to take you far.

Method 2
Strategizing for Success

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    Learn how your grade will be calculated. Spend some time figuring out how your final grade will be calculated. This will help you to know what you should spend the most time on.
    • For example, if 60 percent of your grade comes from exams, you should spend the majority of your work time studying for exams. On the other hand, if 60 percent of your grade comes from papers or other assignments, you should focus a large portion of your energy there.
    • In most college courses, this information should be spelled out in the syllabus.[5] If your teacher hasn't provided this information for you in printed form or on a course website, don't hesitate to ask.
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    Track your performance. Keep track of how well you are doing in each aspect of the class. This will give you a sense of whether or not you are passing, and again, where to focus your energies. Further, research shows that students who track their progress in class score better than those who do not.[6]
    • For example, if you do very well on all written assignments, but are struggling with exams, you want to consider spending less time on the homework and more time preparing for tests.
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    Focus your attention where it is most needed. Taking into account both the aspects of the class carry the most weight and how you are doing in different areas, focus your attention where it is most needed to ensure you will pass.
    • In an ideal world, every student would have time to come to every class, regularly review their notes, and do every assignment. For a variety of reasons, many students cannot. It may feel wrong to neglect certain aspects of a class in favor of others, but sometimes it's better to skip (or not dedicate much time to) one assignment in favor of another. Likewise, sometimes studying for a major exam is more important than doing a less important homework assignment.[7]
    • For example, imagine written assignments make 30 percent of your final grade, and you currently have an 90 percent average on your written assignments. Imagine exams make up 40 percent of your grade, and you only have a 52 percent in this area. If there's both a major exam and a written assignment due next Friday, it probably makes sense to spend the bulk of your time studying for the exam, even if that might mean skipping the written assignment entirely.

Method 3
Seeking Outside Help

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    Go to office hours. If your teacher offers office hours outside of class (i.e. for a college course), attend them regularly. This is a good chance to get some extra help and one-on-one attention from your teacher.[8]
    • When you go to office hours, come with specific questions or topics you want to discuss or review. This will help you get focused attention where you most need it. Furthermore, most teachers don't appreciate it when students come to office hours with no idea what they want to cover.
    • Do not just bring your homework or study guide to office hours and ask the instructor to fill it out for you. Teachers find this very frustrating.
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    Join a study group. Find out if other students in your class are studying together. If so, ask if you can join one of these groups.
    • Study groups allow students to pool their knowledge and understanding of the course, sharing information with each other and creating a regular study schedule.[9]
    • Ask people you know in the course if they are studying with other people. If you can't find a study group, you might try to start one yourself by asking other students if they'd be interested in participating in one.
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    See a tutor. If you are really struggling, you may need to seek additional help with a course in the form of tutoring. A tutor can help you by clarifying concepts and reviewing information with you in a structured way.
    • Many schools offer free tutoring services to students in the form of writing or tutoring centers. There is usually no additional cost for using these services.[10] Find out if your school has such a program, and when it's open. You may need to make an appointment, so find out about that, too.
    • If you have the money, you can also hire a private tutor to work with you. You can either hire an individual tutor or enlist the services of a tutoring business. Look online and on bulletin boards around your school to find out what services may be offered near you. Your school's website may even have listings for tutors available to help in different subject areas.[11]

Method 4
Becoming a Dedicated Student

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    Attend class regularly. Of course, the best option is to not get in a position where you are failing in the first place. It may seem obvious, but one of the most important things you can do to pass a class is show up.[12] This is the best way to get a sense of what content is most important and what the teacher wants you to do.
    • Even if material from class sessions is duplicated in course readings, attending class will give you a sense of where you should focus your studies.
    • Attending class gives you a chance to ask about material you are confused by or having trouble with.
    • Some teachers include an attendance score in calculating final grades. Even those that don't are less likely be accommodating with extra help for students who don't come to class, as they appear to not be making an effort.
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    Be on time. In addition to coming to class, it's important that you arrive on time. Important announcements about exams and major projects often occur at the beginning of class. Missing these announcements can mean missing important information.[13]
    • As with poor attendance, teachers often don't look favorably upon students who don't show up on time. Being late is disrespectful and disruptive.[14] If you need help from your teacher in the form of extensions or extra credit, being on time regularly may make the teacher more likely to be lenient.
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    Pay attention and participate. Of course, just being physically present in class isn't enough. You need to be mentally present as well, paying close attention and participating in class discussions and activities.[15]
    • Many classes have a participation component in the final grade, sometimes a large one.[16] Not participating can mean losing valuable points.
    • Being attentive in class will help you better understand the material.
    • Asking questions in class can help you grasp challenging concepts, and also signals to the instructor that you are engaged and trying your best.
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    Take notes. Always take notes in class, even for material that is simple, and even if you are recording the teacher's presentation.
    • Notes can be the basis for a study guide when it comes time to study for exams.
    • Taking notes helps reinforce the material in your brain and will help you remember it later.[17]
    • Taking notes by hand, rather than with a computer, is thought to be especially helpful in making material easier to remember and understand.[18] This can be more challenging, but for many people helps significantly with recalling information.
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    Do your homework. Try to do every assignment the teacher gives. In most cases, these assignments make up a significant portion of your final grade in the class.
    • Even getting an "F" on a homework assignment you struggle with is much better than getting no points at all.
    • Many assignments will be designed to teach and reinforce information or ideas that will be important later in the course, e.g. on exams.[19]
    • Doing assigned readings is important, too. Most teachers will not assign a reading just to give you something to do. Course readings typically contain important information which may not be covered in lectures or other class sessions.[20]
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    Study effectively. Regularly review your notes on what happens in class, as well as the readings. This will help you remember the information more easily come test time.
    • When you read for class, underline, highlight, or take notes indicate ideas or information that seems most important. This will make review go more quickly and easily.[21]
    • Create a study guide before exams that lists or visually maps the most important concepts and ideas.[22] Go over it several times to make sure you are comfortable with all of the main course concepts.
    • Start studying early. Don't try to just cram on the night before the exam. Studying throughout the course, or at least for several days leading up to an exam, will give you more chances to rehearse the information and commit it to memory.


  • Don't try to cram everything into one night. Study early so you feel relaxed.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your attention span and your ability to listen and synthesize information. Coffee is no substitute for giving your brain proper rest.
  • Always eat a good breakfast. This provides the fuel your body and brain need to function efficiently during class.
  • You may need to take a day off to relax sometimes. If you do, make sure to make up the work for that day if you can.
  • If you have free time in class to do homework, then look over the assignment and ask questions about it if you are having trouble.
  • If all else fails, consider dropping the class. If that's impossible, consider dropping another class or extracurricular activity so you'll have more time and energy to devote to the problematic class.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades