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Avoid Getting Failing Grades

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 February 2022)

If you are not doing well in some of your classes, you need to take action to avoid failing those classes.

First of all, you should look at reasons your grades have not been good so far. Then take some steps to get your grades up to where they should be. This can include asking for help. Finally, be dilligent in preparing for the final exams to make sure you pass your classes—hopefully, with top grades.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Possible reasons for poor grades

There are a number of possible reasons for you getting fair or poor grades in your classes.

Criteria for good grades:

  1. Final exam score
  2. Test scores
  3. Homework
  4. Class participation
  5. General attitude

Why would you do poorly in these areas?

Tests and exam scores

Text anxiety, not good in taking tests, didn't prepare properly


Didn't do homework, got sidetracked, had trouble with subject

Class participation

Shy, goofed off, didn't study, bored

General attitude

Lazy, hate school, bored, smart off, don't like teacher

What should you do?

Start from the bottom and work up.

Not good in tests

Not being good in taking tests or being shy about class participation can affect your grades, but they also can be corrected, and teachers usually realize that your performance is not from lack of trying.

Doing poorly in tests because you did not pay attention or study is inexcusable and is just setting yourself up for poor or failing grades. Something is missing in your self-esteem, because it indicates you really don't care about your grades. Or, it could be that you don't have a clue that you need to work to get rewards.

Subject matter too difficult

It is possible that you took a course where the subject matter was too difficult for you to understand. Sometimes the pace is too fast for you to keep up.

Teacher hard to understand

Some teachers should not be teachers. Some may have a heavy foreign accent that makes it difficult to understand. Others can't explain things in a clear manner. And some may not want to explain things. They say, "You should have learned that last year, so I'm not going to explain it over again."

There are teachers who don't like certain students, and that can affect their grades.

Having a poor teacher can make it difficult to get a good grade in the course. But it is not an excuse for failing the course.

Didn't do homework

One of the biggest reasons students fail is because they didn't study or do their homework.

School skills

Goofed off

Some students often skip classes. Others attend classes but don't pay attention. Finally, some don't bother to do their homework.

Had poor attitudes

Note that there is nothing listed about you not being smart enough to succeed.

What to do

If you have failed a class, even though you tried to get a passing grade, you need to do some personal evaluation. Sometimes a stud net will goof off, but then give it an effort in the end. If that effort isn't good enough, he or she may fail.


Was it too hard? If so, re-group. It is better to have tried something too hard and failed than to have taken the safe route and gone below your ability. You can then better determine where your talent lies and concentrate in that area.


Re-build your esteem. It hurts to realize you are not good in a subject or that you did not provide the teacher with the type of work he or she was expecting.

Preparing for the final exam

Although test scores, homework grades, and class participation can count in your grade, most teachers consider the final exam as a major factor in your grade. Thus, you need to do a good job in preparing for the final, so that you will do good in the exam.

Know what will be covered

Ask your teacher what will be covered in the final exam. Will the exam cover the whole semester or just the material from that past test or quiz?

It is also good to get an idea of what type of exam it will be. Will it be mulitple choice or an essay exam. Usually, that is determined from previous tests and the type of subject matter in the class.

Study your notes

You should have been taking notes throughout the semester or term. Instead of trying to re-read your textbook, you should be able to go through your notes to refreash your memory on the items covered.


If you want to get good grades in school, it is important to learn how to take tests. Homework can be time-consuming, but it is important in learning and being able to pass tests, so you need to learn to do your homework effectively. Teachers are human and may be prejudiced. Since they have the power to determine your grade, it is wise to treat them with respect.

Be proud of your achievements

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Good Grades Resources


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Top-rated books on Getting Good Grades

Questions and comments

If you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

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