How to Tackle a Difficult College Course

I did everything they said NOT to do and I passed the class with a higher grade than anticipated.

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I’m sure we’ve all had at least ONE college course that we hated. It could have been the professor’s fault or the overall course was just difficult to understand. However, the universe was on our side and we managed to pass the class. (Wahoo!)

So, my worst college course was Geology and I took that class to meet an upper-division GE requirement. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why some people were doing so well in that class but me! Later in the semester, I learned a few tricks to help me do well in that class.

Today, I’m actually sharing these 6 easy steps that helped me tackle my most difficult college course. If I can somehow get past that nightmare of a class, I know you can do it too!

1. Don’t Ask Your Professor For Advice

I learned the hard way that some professors don’t give good advice. If anything, they’ll give commonly used advice that doesn’t work for their class.

For example, I was told by my professor that the ONE THING that can do to pass their class was to do a group study. I’m not joking, they dismissed note cards, note-taking, and every study method in the book. They made a strong claim that nothing else but group study would help me pass the class.

Spoiler Alert: I did everything they said NOT to do and I passed the class with a higher grade than anticipated. So, don’t bother asking your professor for advice unless you know for sure they can help you succeed.

2. Ask Someone Familiar With The Subject

I asked a good friend who was a science major in college. She knew how rigorous science can be because she was a bio major. So, she gave me her best tips on how she did well in her science classes.

Two of those tips that she gave me was: 1) Use note cards to study and 2) review your class notes every single day. She basically gave me the whole rundown on what she did to retain difficult information faster. This whole section is just the condensed version of what she told me to do for the class.

So, I did what she said for 2–3 months. To my surprise, I saw a gradual change in my grades. I was no longer failing quizzes or second-guessing my answers on my exam. I felt more comfortable with the materials and less stressed about the class. And…it was all because I adjusted my study style and I got help from the right person.

3. Learn The Game

I mentioned this advice in my previous story on how to get good grades in college. Basically, if you want to pass a class, you have to learn the professor’s grading style.

I like to think of my classes as a game because every game has different rules and styles. If you master each style, you’ll most likely win the game. I encourage you to read the class syllabus, ask questions, and pay attention to your professor’s grading style because that will help you succeed in their class.

4. Review The Wrong Answers

You learn from your mistakes, right? Most likely they’ll be on your exam or a similar concept will be reiterated on the exam. Sometimes your professor might take questions about the exam or they’ll review the whole thing with the class. If they do either of those things, you definitely want to jot down the right answer(s) and take some notes!

5. Effort & Patience

When it comes to taking a difficult class, I learned that patience is key to success. You can’t expect instant results after you did poorly on an exam. All you can do is aim higher and do better next time. Most importantly, do not feel discouraged and give up! You have to be your own hype person and you have to believe that you can do well in that class for you to succeed.

Another thing I would say is to show your professors that you’re working hard and you’re putting effort into their class(es). They might surprise you at the end of the semester and you might end up with a totally different letter grade.

My professor surprisingly bumped my grade from a minus letter grade to a solid letter grade. And everybody knows that pluses, minuses, and solid grades make a MASSIVE difference in your overall GPA. So let’s just say I got a higher GPA than I expected haha.

6. Extra Credit

My final advice is to take advantage of extra credit assignments. Honestly, you’ll rarely find a professor where they’ll give you extra credit because some professors don’t believe in it.

However, they’ll give you extra points on your exam if they made a mistake on it. But let’s say if you’re lucky enough to get some extra credit assignments, I say take advantage of it because it will help you in the long run.

I know it’s obvious advice but some students won’t do the extra credit assignment because it’s “too much work.” I like to think that if I can get free points, it’s never too much work for me to do. Think about it, you’re making up some points that you lost throughout the semester. That should be good news!

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