What to Do If You Fail Psychology

Here are some things you can do if you are failing psychology

Failing a psychology class
Digital Vision / Getty Images

Are you failing a psychology class? Psychology is often a general education requirement at many colleges and universities, and it is not uncommon for students who are unfamiliar with the subject to struggle. While you should definitely take the situation seriously, it is important not to panic. Even if you are failing the class, there are still usually things that you can do to significantly improve your grade or deal with the problem. Check out some of these tips that can help you regain control of the situation.

1. Get Help as Soon As Possible

Once you realize that you are failing (or close to failing) a psychology class, it is absolutely essential to get help immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to fix the problem. Start by discussing what is happening with your class instructor. In addition to offering tips on what you can do to improve your grade, your teacher may be able to offer you extra-credit opportunities that could improve your overall grade in the class.

Of course, there are many different types of academic assistance available. You might get help from your academic advisor, tutor, study group, classmates, or campus learning center.

The earlier you seek assistance, the greater the chance is that you can improve your grade enough to pass the class.

2. Evaluate Your Options

There is no one simple solution or quick fix when you're facing a failing grade. What you can do is take a serious look at the situation, evaluate all of your options, and then develop a plan. 

  • First, talk to your teacher to determine if bringing up your grade through improved classroom participation, homework achievement, and test performance is an option.
  • If raising your grade in the class isn't possible or realistic, then it is time to start thinking about other alternatives.
  • Check the academic calendar at your school to see if you can withdraw or drop the class from your schedule. Before you drop or withdraw from the class, it is important to be aware of the potential ramifications it may have on your academic transcript and financial aid.
  • If it is too late to drop the class, you may still be able to switch to a pass/fail or audit option. Your unique situation and your school's rules will dictate the options you have in this situation, so check with your academic advisor and professor to learn more about the available alternatives.

Take Steps to Improve Your Grade

If you decide to stick with the class, focus on things that might improve your grade:

  • Attend all class lectures. Consistent attendance is one of the best ways to ensure that you get all of the information you need to succeed in the class.
  • Take good psychology class notes. Quality notes from lectures, discussions, and readings can help you study for exams, understand the material, and get more out of class attendance. You might also want to consider asking for copies of a classmate's notes just to compare your own note-taking with that of your peers.
  • Consider a supplementary textbook. If you're having a hard time with the required book for your psychology class, ask your instructor to recommend some supplementary reading material. Sometimes, a different textbook might explain concepts in a way that makes more sense to you.
  • Evaluate your psychology study habits. In some cases, the study strategies that you normally use might not be sufficient. Ask your instructor to recommend some study techniques that might help and check out new psychology study tips that you can incorporate into your current study routine.
  • Try new strategies on psychology tests. If your test performance is hurting your grade, it is time to spend some serious time preparing for your psychology exams. In addition to learning the material and improving your study habits, you can also try out some different test-taking strategies that might help improve your test scores.

What NOT To Do If You're Failing Psychology

Sometimes when students realize that they are failing a class, they do things that end up making the situation even worse. If you realize that you are failing psychology, make sure that you don't:

  • Cheat or plagiarize
  • Get angry at the instructor
  • Blame other people
  • Give up
  • Ignore the situation

It might be tempting to just throw in the towel, especially if you are really struggling with the material itself. But giving up will only hurt your academic success both now and in the long run. 

A Word From Verywell

If you are failing, it is important to take responsibility for the problem. Don't panic and try to cheat your way into a better grade! Instead, have an honest discussion about the problem with your instructor and start taking action as quickly as possible.

Perhaps most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. Psychology classes can be difficult, especially if it is a subject you have never studied before. Instead, try to keep a positive outlook and focus on how to make the best of the situation.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.