7 Tips to Catch Up When You’re (Really) Behind in High School

7 Tips to Catch Up When You’re (Really) Behind in High School

Weeks behind in school?

And just don’t know what to do to catch up?

Well, here are seven of my tips for catching up when you’re really behind in high school!

For several reasons, I didn’t have access to my online Earth Science course until late October last year.

I’m Australian, and the school year starts in early February and ends in early December, so you can see there wasn’t much of a chance I could complete the course in the one and a half months we had left of the school year.

I did what I could then, but didn’t get far with it.

So, this year, I resolved to finish it as soon as I could, and I am happy to say I have since then completed the course! I hope that at least some these tips will help you to catch up!

1. Do one subject until you’ve caught up.

This won’t work for everyone, but I have found that focusing on the one subject until I’ve caught up is much easier than doing little bits here and there and not accomplishing the work you were hoping to get done.

For example, with the Science course, I ended up putting all my other work aside for about 2 weeks and worked on that until I finished it; it was exhausting, but definitely worth it!

However, if doing only one subject causes you to fall behind on all your others substantially, then try to do one subject by itself for a week, even if you don’t catch up by then, you’ll have some out of the way.

2. Read the whole chapter in one day.

I can’t emphasize how much this helps! Instead of taking the assigned week (or however long it’s supposed to take), you simply read the whole chapter; take notes do the review questions, etc., all in one day.

First, this saves time (which is what you want!), and second, I found it helped me to remember the material better. Hand-writing out the review questions and any other notes is something I would recommend. I mean, yes, you get a sore hand by the time you’re done, but it’s supposed to be more beneficial for memory retention than typing all the answers up on a computer.

I would say it makes it totally worth it! Also, use note cards! They’ve helped me so much when trying to remember different concepts and other things for tests!

Finally, the next day, take the test and repeat the process!

Now, this method may not necessarily work for say History, as an example, as there is far more material to learn per chapter and so much more to remember for tests.

However, I’m sure you could still read the chapter and do the review in one day, but then perhaps take an extra day or two to review for the test. It might not work for you, but give it a try!

3. Find a quiet place to study with minimal distractions.

I know quite a few people would recommend going to your local library, or even a university library (which I’m sure are great suggestions!). But if you’re like me, neither of those are an option because we don’t have a library in our town, or a university! So, if you can find a quiet place to study in, such as a quiet spare room/area, or even somewhere in your backyard, then, by all means, take advantage of it!

I recently had the chance to move my desk into our study, and I’ve found if I’m studying for tests that it’s a great to do it in quiet. Because even if you have just two younger siblings, I can guarantee they provide noise and distraction at least some of the time.

4. If you are taking an online course, print out the chapter!

This is one of my favorite tips. If you’re like me, I find it can be difficult to read large amounts of text off a computer screen, especially when it’s for school work! Another benefit in printing the chapter out is you can highlight sections (which I do a lot).

Just copy the lesson into a Word document, and adjust the font, the size, and any pictures. However, remember to change the setting to booklet form before printing!

5. Say the student’s prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas!

This is a great prayer to say before you begin school for the day, and I would recommend praying it!

Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

6. Try not to stress if you’re really behind.

Sometimes, if you keep looking at the big picture and how much school work you must catch up on, it can get to be overwhelming. So, while you need to know roughly how much school you must get done, try to set a reasonable time frame for completing it.

I mean I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but to finish the said Science course I ended up doing 17 weeks’ worth in 7 days! Yes, it was intense, but the feeling of accomplishment when you’re finally done is something that no one can give you, and it feels amazing!

My grades were also pretty reasonable, so if your grades start to slip because of doing so much at once, consider slowing down a little and doing some extra review on the chapters before taking the tests.

7. Reward yourself.

Once you’ve met your goals or finished that course, take the next day off (as long as your parents are fine with that) to give yourself a break and relax. When you come back to more school, you’ll be refreshed and ready to go!

Now, what are you waiting for? Try out some of these tips and good luck with catching up on your work!

About Clare Murphy

Clare Murphy, I'm Clare, and currently in year ten with Seton. I'm the middle child of five children with two brothers and two sisters. Some of my interests include hairstyling, (I recently started up a hairstyling website with some other Seton girls, here: https://setongirlshairstyles.com, playing competition basketball, reading, baking, and a little creative writing.

26 Comments

  1. Amelia Coleman

    Hey Clare!!! I TOTALLY agree with everything you’ve written. The only way I ever take tests is to do it all in one day when everything is still fresh in my mind – and it saves time (since somehow I’m always behind) ;) Thanks!

    Reply
    • Clare

      Hey Mia! Thanks so much, you’re totally welcome!!
      (I actually wrote this article back in August 2017, it just took a while for it to be published, just thought I’d mention that so it makes a little more sense)

      Reply
  2. Elodie Pierlot

    Clare!! You are a life saver! I am feeling pretty stressed with my maths and Spanish and other subjects this year too. It’s so good to know that I’m not an only person who’s ever been behind. Great tips! -Especially the ‘try not to stress’ one!! Thanks!!! :)

    Reply
    • Clare

      Aw you’re so welcome Elodie!! Honestly don’t worry, you are most certainly not the only one that’s ever been extremely behind, trust me, I know exactly how you feel!! Hopefully some of these tips will help you out! :) <3 ;)

      Reply
  3. Emily McKinnon

    Absolutely splendid tips, Clare!!! Just what I needed to hear today! Thank you so much for this! <333

    Reply
    • Clare

      Aw thanks Em!! :) You’re welcome! :) <3

      Reply
  4. Gerard Beirne

    Great tips Clare!

    Reply
    • Clare

      Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Elodie Pierlot

    Does anyone have any motivation or tips? I’ve realised I’m behind on my English and now that means I’m a year behind in my Maths and Spanish, and now I haven’t finished my first quarter after half a year this year in English! I’m so fed up of my schoolwork, and every morning it’s so difficult for me to to motivate myself to get going even though I consistently fail at my math and fall behind in different areas of different subjects. I’m super tempted to ditch my diploma and go into the military without one (cos you can do that, so I don’t know why I’m even bothering half the time:( ) and I’m starting to hate myself and get really upset, cross, frustrated and mad at the schoolwork. I could be working and getting money instead, but I’m stuck in Grade 10 feeling like there’s no point. Does anyone have any tips? Please, I’m so desperate. :((

    Reply
    • Amelia Coleman

      High school is really hard :( I’m always behind where I want to be, and sometimes I feel like there is no point either. There aren’t even set deadlines, like you would have at school, to motivate you. When I feel like this, here is what I do. 1) Take a break and get out of the house. I go crazy if I stay in the house for too long. Either drive somewhere, or else bike or take a walk (the Adoration Chapel is a good place to go, or Starbucks) 2) Even better: Do school outside of your house! This helps me SO MUCH. The library is good, but for me, a Starbucks or other cafe is even better. When it’s warm, I just sit on the driveway outside. 3) Make schedules and lists. For example, instead of writing “take math test”, I break it down into tiny little tasks like “do 7 problems in section 1-3”. I make the list look as clean and pretty as possible, because that helps motivate me. Then, checking off all the little boxes gives me a feeling of accomplishment and I actually get stuff done instead of procrastinating. 4) Make your desk (or wherever you’re working) look nice. The cleaner, brighter, and more clutter-free the better. I like having little pick-me-ups on my desk like a water bottle, coffee, gum, and maybe a snack or headphones/music. 5) Idk if you have social media, but when all else fails, I look at my boards or my friends boards on Pinterest – they actually have a lot of motivational ideas, quotes, and pictures that help me get going again. (Of course you have to be careful anywhere on the internet). Hope this helps at least a little, and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

      Reply
      • Amelia Coleman

        Oh and one last thing: try not to think about how much you have left to do in the whole year – all you can do is one thing at a time. Break it down as much as humanly possible. It’s much easier to tackle “step one: read chapter 33” than to tackle “finish three quarters of Spanish A.S.A.P.”

        Reply
        • Elodie Pierlot

          My goodness, Amelia that has made me feel so much better! Thank you soooo much. I’ve fallen behind because of so many little things, like being ill, parents being ill and having to make meals and school my siblings, or going away (I’m yachting over Easter!!) revising for corporals boards, dance exams, etc. It never ends. But it’s so good to know that I’m not the only person in the world who’s struggled with Homeschooling! Thank you so much! I might ask my Mum to take me to the library later, actually. :)

          Reply
          • Amelia Coleman

            Oh yeah, it’s crazy. I have a busy schedule too, with a basketball tournament, a piano recital coming up…the list goes on! I shouldn’t even be talking…I have to read, study for, and take a test every single day if I want to have a chance of being done by summer…but I just can’t give up, ya know? I have to keep plugging along, picking just one or two tasks to do every day, breaking it down, and try hard to enjoy what I’m doing. Otherwise it’s just way too hard! It’s not always going to be easy and fun, but when the test is finally taken or the paper is finally written…gosh, that feeling of satisfaction and achievement and freedom almost makes it worth it! (almost) ;)

          • Elodie Pierlot

            Oooo Piano recital? That’s an awesome thing to do. I quit piano lessons a long time ago. I regret it, but then again I wasn’t very musical at all and I was pretty rubbish XD Yes, it’s always so satisfying when you get an essay or test done that you don’t fail! :)

          • Amelia Coleman

            Haha I’m sure you were just fine ;) Ikr?

    • Clare

      Hey Elodie, don’t think that just because I wrote this article means I’m all caught up in everything now, in fact by the time this got published I had to read it again and take my own advice. Because like you I’m really behind in some things (more so than I’d like to admit.) I know exactly how you feel right now actually (in fact I can relate almost exactly to the thing about English), I get so stressed out about being behind. (please feel free to PM me over on SWC or something if you want someone to talk to who is essentially going through the same stuff as you! :) ) And also like you said a few comments down, the reason being that you’re so far behind was because of things going on in your family ect. That’s basically what happened to me too.
      I just wanted to let you know that you’re really not the only one feeling this way. And thanks so much for those tips down below Mia!!

      Reply
      • Elodie Pierlot

        Hey Clare! Oh goodness that makes me feel better that I’m not alone- but it still makes me feel bad for you ‘cos it’s horrid XD Thanks, I might PM you…. (what does that mean??? Is it an American/Australian thing?? I’ve never heard of that!!) Yeah, family things are hard especially when you’ve gotta catch up on loadsa stuff but your mum needs you to look after your baby sister for the morning or something :) I love her, but still XD
        Thanks, Clare, it means a lot that you made an effort to reply :) I’m really grateful :)

        Reply
        • Clare

          I felt the same way when I read your comment. ;)

          Oh sorry, no it’s just short for private message, so you can message me on SWC if you want. Sorry for the confusion. :) I’d love to talk to you over there.

          You’re welcome Elodie! :)

          Reply
      • Amelia Coleman

        Sure! I hope I didn’t like take over your awesome article in any way though! You had really great ideas that I will definitely try!

        Reply
        • Clare

          Aw no, Mia not at all! ;) Thank you! :)

          Reply
  6. Alyssum Pylar

    This is a great article, Clare.
    Thank you for sharing the Student’s Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas — it’s beautiful!
    And your hair-styling website is really neat!
    I’ll be sure to reference it when I need some fresh ideas. ;)

    Reply
    • Clare

      Thank you Alyssum!
      You’re welcome! It’s such a great prayer!

      Aw thank you so much! Glad to be of any help to you! :)

      Reply
  7. Cora

    Hi Clare! I am going through a super stressful time with school myself and i love that you have the prayer I am going to start using that! Thank you for showing me that i am not alone when it comes to being behind in school. with the semester coming to an end here in the next week i am a little fearful about some things i did not get done. But i have been doing my best and trying to get as much done as i possibly can! I would love to talk with you sometime its great to know i am not alone!

    Reply
    • Clare

      Hi Cora! I’m sorry I didn’t see this until now! Aw, I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m glad to know you liked the prayer and are going to use it, I really think it does help!
      I honestly know exactly how you feel right now! But it’s good to know you’re trying your hardest to get as much done as possible, I find it really hard to get motivated when I’m really far behind but I guess all we can do is try our best. (:
      I’d love to talk you too sometime, because you’re definitely not alone in this! If you’re a member on the Seton Writer’s club or Catholic Harbor then you can definitely message me on either site (I’m ClareTE on both sites)
      Hope to hear from you soon!
      God bless,
      ~Clare

      Reply
  8. Anon

    I’m failing all my classes. I’ve never been good in school, but I’m a Junior in high school now and I still completely suck at it. I can’t focus (ADHD) and am the farthest behind I think I’ve ever been! I don’t like doing homework and stopped doing it in middle school, but I know I need to start doing it again. The problem is, I am (as stated above) absolutely unable to focus on anything, especially at home. It’s practically the same at school, and I have to do something about it. I have tons of support (even my service dog for anxiety/PTSD) from the teachers, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. I feel as though I need constant supervision so I can accomplish even the tiniest things. I’m researching this while I have work to do ugh! I just want to sleep and not have to wake up to more stress…

    Reply
  9. Hannah

    This is a great article. I’ve fallen behind in school ever since it was closed due to coronavirus, I’m about a month behind in schoolwork but I think I can catch up

    Reply

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