How to Catch Up With Your Classmates if You Have Hopelessly Fallen Behind

It’s not really a secret that people don’t study and grasp everything at the same tempo. Yet, somehow, students keep getting divided into smart and stupid, hard-working and lazy, etc. However, those are not the categories people should be classified into.

Some students need more encouragement, some – more time and better conditions to focus. So, if you realize you’re falling behind your classmates, it’s not about judging yourself but revisiting your actions and habits.

Shush Your Inner Perfectionist

The first thing you need to remember is that there are slow and fast learners, which is defined by

  • the background knowledge they have;
  • the environment they grew up in and live in;
  • external circumstances.

The latter is something that adults can handle more or less better, while teenagers are often bad at juggling everything at once.

Do you know that feeling when you see your homework pile up and realize that you won’t submit and read everything on time? Students often see it as a sign that they shouldn’t – or won’t be able to – submit the assignments and process the information at all. Or they manage to keep up with all the chores and assignments without even addressing and end up stressed out. These are two extremes of perfectionism.

On the other hand, students that make a hard decision to handle personal matters first or revisit the material as many times as they can before moving on may lag behind. This is completely normal. Yet, as they try to actually move on with their studies, they get discouraged. So, what do you do with this?

Establish the Reason for Falling Behind

If that’s the emergencies you couldn’t influence, of course, this point can be skipped. Otherwise, you can think about how you can recover from the outcomes if the emergency happens again. Yet, thoroughly think (and be realistic) about the question: could you influence the situation that made you get distracted from the studies?

In general, people tend to say “I should/shouldn’t have done it” when they realize where they failed themselves in the first place. When you think that way, change the formulation: “next time, I should do this and that to avoid the same situation.”

You can even write the template on a piece of paper and hang it somewhere you look at every day. It might seem like minor stuff, but changing the way you treat failures can save you from that depressing discouragement that stands in the way of moving on.

Make a Plan

List all the things you need to catch up with. All the revisions, assignments, books, and lecture materials should be taken into account. Write down the realistic amount of time you need to spend on each point. To be sure, add 10% to the number you deem realistic.

That way, if your expectations are too high, you will have more time anyway. And if they are okay, you will have an opportunity to relax and have some rest. So, you’ll win anyway.

Write down deadlines for each point and start squeezing the tasks into your schedule. Even 20 minutes on a bus can be used to read lecture notes or revise material you didn’t get the first time.

Rearrange Your Schedule

To catch up with your classmates, you need the time they used to study. You can’t get more than 24 hours a day, but you can make your schedule more efficient. Try to shift some stuff for earlier hours or do a number of chores in one day.

It’s also helpful to group some things depending on your location. For example, if you need to do something next week in a part of the city you’re going to tomorrow, do it in one day if possible. It may save you a couple of hours a day.

Also, do you tend to handle many chores in the evening? Try to wake up an hour or two earlier and attend to some exercises or writing.


Situations of students lagging behind their peers can be quite different. So, the tips above may not always work in full. If you lack time to handle all the classes or subjects, you’re going to need to choose.

Do you need good grades on particular subjects and a pass on others? Maybe you need a bit more than a pass on each subject but not an A specifically? Are there classes that will only steal your time or during which you can work on other subjects on the quiet? You may sit in on a lecture and record it on your phone while making a draft or an outline of your research paper. After that, the record can be listened to at a faster speed.

Use a Reward System

If you lack the motivation to complete many assignments and process loads of information, this system may help you. List the things you need to do and, after you manage them, reward yourself with an expensive or cheat meal, a meeting with friends, or a party.

Just make sure you do not spend as much time on rewards as on learning. Also, choose more useful rewards. Few people can resist a cheat meal. Still, indulging yourself in bad habits regularly may not work out but only worsen the situation.


See? Catching up with your peers is just about practical tricks. As you implement them, you will feel the difference. Trying all at once can be overwhelming, so go step by step. If you need help, do not hesitate to ask for it before it’s too late, and always remember that it’s better to do something not perfectly than not to do it at all.

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