How to Catch up on Your Studies If You’ve Fallen Behind - (2023)

We’ve all been there. You look at your university schedule or your next assignment date and you realise how behind you are. What are your options? How are you supposed to catch up on your studies?

In this blog post you’ll discover:

  • What your options are if you fall behind
  • 13 simple but powerful techniques to help you catch up on your studies and get back on track
  • How to work out why you fell behind so you don't repeat this
  • Additional resources to help you stay on top of your studying.

But first, sign up to my free resource library where you can download my bloomin’ awesome study session planner AND tons of other printables and worksheets to help you become a happier, more confident and more successful student.

1.How important is the assignment?

Work out if your panic is deserved. How heavily is your assignment weighted? If it’s worth 10% of the marks but your others are worth 30-40% then a lower grade may not be as catastrophic as you think. Also see if your university uses substitution for any of your assignments. This is where your lowest mark is increased to bring it more in line with the average of your other marks. Understanding the importance of each assignment will help you work out which of the below strategies you need to catch up on your studies.

2.If necessary, ask for an extension

If you’ve tried to catch up on your studies but you don’t think you’ll be able to complete an assignment on time, consider asking for an extension. Before you contact your tutor have an idea of how long an extension you will need and what your plan is to meet the new deadline. If you can explain why you’ve fallen behind but also how you’re going to fix it then your tutor will hopefully grant you a small extension. It doesn’t have to be long but even a day or two can really help to reduce the panic and help you submit something you’re proud of.

3.Seek support for tough concepts

Did you fall behind because you struggled to understand the materials? Never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help can feel like a sign of weakness but if it moves you forward this can only be a good thing. Ask for a quick meeting or phone call with your tutor to go through a difficult concept. They might be able to give you new techniques or point you in the direction of helpful resources.


4.Seek further support if you feel helpless

We all experience times when studying gets on top of us and we consider quitting. But if you’re seriously considering giving up seek further support first. Contact your tutor or your university’s student support team. They should be able to talk you through your options as you might be able to defer your module and continue in a few months, or take a break from studying to refresh yourself before going back.

5.Prioritise your tasks using the 4Ds

To catch up on your studies you might need to rethink completing everything on that long to do list. A simple way to prioritise what’s important is to use the 4Ds system. Take your to do list, or make one with everything you think you need to do. Make sure every area of your life is included not just studying. Then try to put each item into one of the four categories.

If the task is really important or it won’t take long then just DO IT now.

If the task is important but takes a little longer or you don’t have time to tackle it straight away – DELAY IT. But, you MUST schedule a time in your diary or calendar right now for when you’re going to complete the task. Don’t DELAY a task more than once.

There’s a chance you could DELEGATE the task. Could you ask your partner or housemate to make dinner this week so you can write your essay? Or sign up for one of those meal prep delivery services for a week or two to take the pressure off. Could you order your shopping online or ask a friend to run some of your errands for you? If money allows, could you get a cleaner in so you can cross off the cleaning tasks on your list?

The last and potentially most important category is to DUMP IT. If you’re constantly moving a task from one to do list to the next, maybe it’s not that important? See if you could get rid of it instead so you can reduce your list and take away the stress of putting off a task. If you can’t get rid of the task completely, could you simplify it?

6.Prioritise the important material

If you’re behind on your reading and have an assignment coming up, prioritise what’s needed. Your guidance might tell you which readings or which book pages are the most important for the assignment. If not, contact your tutor and ask them which sections you should focus your time on. Get that reading done as quick as you can then start the assignment. If you’ve got time, skim the sections you’ve missed for any other relevant points you could add as you edit your work.

7.Try to free up some time

In order to catch up on your studies, you might need to reconsider your other commitments. Look at your diary or calendar for the next few weeks and see if you can free up any space. Could you take a day off work to catch up or work from home a few days (if you’re allowed) to save your commuting time? Do you have any social plans you could rearrange or change slightly so they’re shorter or closer to home? Could your friends or family help a little with the housework or childcare?

To catch up on your studies you HAVE to create more time. Commit to finding a few ways you can create space in your schedule.

8.Forgive yourself

It’s important to not spend time feeling guilty about falling behind. It’s normal to stray off track every so often in your studies, especially if you have lots of other responsibilities.

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Psychology Professor Michael Wohl conducted a study and found students who forgave themselves for any past procrastination were less likely to waste time again in the future.

Accept you’ve fallen behind but then move on. Believe you can and will catch up on your studies.

9.Don’t forget to take breaks

When you’re behind it might feel like you don’t have time to even pee let alone take breaks. But it’s often more productive to work in short bursts with little breaks then chain yourself to your desk all day.

The Pomodoro technique just works. Study with absolute focus for 25 minutes. No distractions, no going on your phone, no justtt having a quick look for a new book on Amazon. Crack on and get the work done for 25 minutes and then you can take a 5-minute break. Repeat this 3 times then take a longer break.

Now, I’d recommend adapting this ratio if you’re feeling so overwhelmed by your workload you don’t know how or where to start. You could work for 30 minutes then take a 15-minute break. As long as you work your butt off for those 30 minutes you’ll achieve lots.

Download my free study planner to increase your productivity so you catch up on your studies quicker.

10.Develop your ability to study in short bursts

You may be someone who finds it hard to study little and often. You prefer to study in one or two long sessions a week rather than a bit each day. Everyone has their preferences but learning to get stuff done in short amounts of time is a skill. Even if you only managed to study for 30 minutes a day that adds up to more than six hours over a week.

Look at your schedule and try and find small slots where you can fit studying in:

· As soon as you wake up before leaving for work

· On your commute (if you take public transport)

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· On your lunch break

· As soon as you get home from work

· During your kids’ nap time

· Could you get to work earlier or leave a little later to fit some study in either side of your work hours?

11.Talk to your friends and family

It’s important to have at least one person to talk to about your studies. Someone you can not only share your achievements with but who will also listen to you have a little rant every so often. Studying online can sometimes make you feel isolated but you should never feel like you don’t have anyone to support you.

12.Talk to other students

Don’t forget to use your fellow students for help and inspiration. Set up a little study group or hang out in any forums, groups or Facebook groups your module or course might have. These are a great place to find motivation but also some advice. If you have fallen behind other students might be able to share which materials are the most important to focus on.

13.Reward your hard work

Try and plan a small treat for the end of each study session. It doesn’t have to be big but scheduling a little bit of time to do something you WANT to do can make you feel like a human rather than an essay churning, caffeine-fuelled machine.

Plan a slightly bigger reward for when you’ve caught up with on studies. This could be a movie night, dinner out, a night in with your new book or a relaxing massage. Studying is an individual effort so make sure you remember to celebrate your own achievements. It’s important to make time for yourself so falling behind doesn’t turn into becoming burned out.

Why do you think you fell behind?

Do you procrastinate over studying so everything is last minute?

Were you struggling with the material?

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Do you find it hard to fit studying in with your other commitments?

Could you be a bit more organised so deadlines and your workload don’t surprise you?

Do you lack confidence in your abilities so find yourself stuck and unable to take the steps to move forward?

It's important to identify the reasons you fell behind so you can take action to make sure you stack on track in the future.

Hopefully this blog post has given you some ideas to take forward, but here’s some more resources to help you.

Further resources

Conquer procrastination so you can get more studying done in less time.

Discover ways to study even when you’re tired or just don’t feel like studying.

Change the way you think to improve your grades. Discover that your intelligence can be increased through effort, self-belief and the right study techniques.

Learn how to fit your studies around your job and how to prioritise your education so your studying always gets done.


What is the best way to catch up when you're behind in schoolwork? ›

How to Catch Up if You Fall Behind
  • Communicate with your instructor or advisor. If you're falling behind, let your instructor know immediately. ...
  • Connect with a classmate. If you miss class, reach out to a classmate to get a copy of their notes. ...
  • Get organized. ...
  • Ask for help. ...
  • Decide to withdraw.

How can I catch up in my studies? ›

Create a plan to help you catch up.
  1. Make a master calendar.
  2. Make separate lists for each of your subjects.
  3. Combine tasks into one list of main priorities.
  4. Create the catch-up plan.
  5. Spread work out over a few days.
  6. If things aren't working, try another study method.
Mar 23, 2022

How do you catch up when behind in everything? ›

  1. Prioritize Your Backlog. If work is piling up, it's time to prioritize your backlog as best as possible. ...
  2. Take Stock Of The Bigger Picture. ...
  3. 4. ' ...
  4. Regain Focus With Mindfulness. ...
  5. Take Time For Yourself. ...
  6. Apply The 80/20 Rule. ...
  7. Automate Simple Decisions.
Aug 18, 2021

What to do if you fall behind in a class? ›

Talk to your teacher(s) – Your teacher may have some tips and suggestions on which subjects or assignments to focus your energy on. They may be able to help create a plan to help you get back on track. Meet with your school counsellor – Counsellors are a great source for support when you are struggling or want to talk.

Is it OK to give up on study? ›

Studying is also another part of living experience through adulthood, which can be great by the way if you give it a chance. In most unfortunate cases, where a serious illness takes place, you have every right to quit your studies, if it prevents your health from getting better.

How can I trigger myself to study? ›

10 ways to motivate yourself to study
  1. Acknowledge your resistance and difficult feelings with motivation. ...
  2. Do not run away. ...
  3. Do not blame yourself for procrastinating now and then. ...
  4. Try to understand your studying style better. ...
  5. Don't question your abilities. ...
  6. Visualise yourself starting. ...
  7. Focus on the task at hand.
Nov 13, 2015

What causes students to fall behind? ›

Factors such as inequitable levels of school funding, unequal distribution of highly qualified and experienced teachers, harsh disciplinary policies, minimally articulated core curriculum, and lack of consistent instructional support can result in a system that causes vulnerable students to continue falling further ...

Can dropout go back to college? ›

There are many valid reasons students drop out. Rising tuition costs, family and personal circumstances and inability to balance work and school can all contribute to a student's choice to withdraw from college. However, just because you dropped out doesn't mean you can't go back to college.

Is it normal to feel behind in college? ›

I know this is probably hard to hear, but things take time. You're still transitioning, and this feeling is absolutely normal. As you go through the semester, you'll likely find your way through things and be able to finally enjoy your college experience.

How do I get over not doing something? ›

But usually, this feeling is only temporary — and these 11 strategies can help you shake it off.
  1. Take a break. Sometimes, not wanting to do anything is your mind and body's way of asking for a break. ...
  2. Get outside. ...
  3. Journal. ...
  4. Meditate. ...
  5. Reach out to a friend. ...
  6. Listen to music. ...
  7. Try some easy chores. ...
  8. Evaluate the basics.

How do you feel caught up? ›

Career Coach: Tips for getting caught up
  1. Let it go. Acknowledge that we can't do it all, and that some things might not get done. ...
  2. Sleep. ...
  3. Enjoy a little recess. ...
  4. Call the pros. ...
  5. Lean on your team. ...
  6. Get focused. ...
  7. Just say no. ...
  8. Celebrate wins.
Sep 7, 2014

Will dropping a class hurt you? ›

“A drop from the course is usually done early in the semester and has no impact on the student's grade, GPA or transcript,” Croskey says. However, students should be very aware of deadlines, financial aid requirements and course timelines before dropping a class.

Does dropping a class make you a failure? ›

Dropping a class is much better for your GPA than failing a class or getting a C or D in it is because a dropped class does not affect your grade point average. Dropping a class may also raise your GPA because it can allow you to spend more time on other classes and raise your grades in them.

Does dropping a class affect you? ›

In most cases, dropped classes will simply appear as “W” (withdrawal) on your transcript. This means that the class will not count toward your GPA, but it also won't have a negative impact on your academic record.

How do you survive school when it's boring? ›

Before Class
  1. Sleep Well. Your sleep is inherently tied to your ability to focus. ...
  2. Read Material. ...
  3. Create Questions In Advance. ...
  4. Prepare Yourself For A Mentally-Draining Class. ...
  5. Sit Up Front. ...
  6. If You Are On Your Laptop, Don't Check Social Media. ...
  7. Enjoy A Cold Beverage During Class. ...
  8. Sit With An Enthusiastic Classmate.

How do I stop being drained from school? ›

During school breaks, try to take vacations or staycations, where you truly give your mind time to rest.
  1. Make Time for Enjoyable Activities: ...
  2. Get Plenty of Physical Exercise: ...
  3. Get Outside: ...
  4. Make Time for Social Activities: ...
  5. Develop Good Relationships with Professors: ...
  6. Set Reasonable Goals: ...
  7. Avoid Procrastination:

Is it normal to skip a class? ›

Most undergrads skip class at least once. And most professors understand that valid reasons keep students from attending every lecture. In general, it's not terrible to miss a single class — as long as you're not skipping the midterm or final. But skipping can become a problem if it's chronic.

How do I tell my teacher I miss a class? ›

I am writing to share with you that I have not been able to attend your class (course name and time of course) on the following dates (insert dates here) due to (insert situation here; i.e. illness/flu) situation. I have been trying to catch-up on course work as best as possible.

How much is too much homework? ›

Many districts follow the guideline of 10 minutes per grade level. This is a good rule of thumb and can be modified for specific students or subjects that need more or less time for assignments. This can also be helpful to gauge if you are providing too much (or too little) homework.

Who invented homework? ›

Homework is typically credited to Roberto Nevelis of Venice, Italy, who invented it in 1095—or 1905, depending on your sources.

Can grades cause depression? ›

Rates of anxiety, depression and even suicidal ideation have spiked dramatically, and academic stress tied to grades is a leading cause of this escalation.

How can I remove study laziness? ›

Tips for Students to Overcome Laziness
  1. Attain Discipline and Stick to It. The first and most essential point is to attain discipline. ...
  2. Eliminate Distractions. ...
  3. Create a Timetable. ...
  4. Maintain a Stipulated Time for Studying Every Day. ...
  5. Take Breaks. ...
  6. Set Achievable Goals. ...
  7. Seek Assistance. ...
  8. Self-Rewards After Completing a Goal.

How do I stop forgetting to study? ›

How to Prevent Forgetting
  1. Aim for mastery, not relative performance. ...
  2. Eliminate multiple choice questions. ...
  3. Use contextual clues. ...
  4. Work digitally and save often. ...
  5. Quiz instead of review to enhance memory for lists. ...
  6. To prevent forgetting, ask “why.”
May 9, 2016

How many hours of study is OK? ›

For a normal course, 1 hour per subject will be a good strategy, whereas preparation for any competitive exam demands proper management of time and schedule for each day. One should be regular and stick to the schedule made for each day. For competitive exams at least 6-7 hours study is mandatory.

When should I quit my studies? ›

You should only quit your studies if you believe that the decision will be beneficial to your career development and personal life. If, for instance, you've lined up a better learning opportunity, or a life-changing opportunity has come up, then the decision to leave your current studies may be what's best for you.

Is it OK to study tired? ›

Feeling tired doesn't have to signal the end of productivity. You can still study when you're tired and do great work.

Why am I so lazy and unmotivated to study? ›

You could be feeling the effects of difficulties in your family or the world at large. Maybe you're having a hard time focusing or feel like your goals are too far away. It's normal to feel unmotivated sometimes, and you'll deal with that feeling off and on throughout your whole life.

Why do I forget what I study? ›

Lack of Revision

Students generally tend to forget the content during the examination if he has burnt the midnight oil at the last minute. With a regular schedule of study and appropriate revision, the retaining capacity of the brain improves and the content is embedded in a much deeper manner.

Why is it so hard for me to study? ›

One of the most common reasons students find it challenging to study is a lack of concentration. It is essential to stay focused and not let your thoughts wander while studying.

What are 3 reasons students drop out? ›

Explore the ten reasons most students drop out of college:
  • Family obligations.
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Moving to a different part of the state or country.
  • Unprepared for the academic requirements.
  • Need a break from the rigors of education.
  • Lack of dedication and time for classes and coursework.

Which students are most at risk of dropping out? ›

Potential dropouts tend to be retained in the same grade, have poor academic grades, and feel disengaged from school. They are more likely to come from low socioeconomic status families where parents did not get very far in their schooling.

What are the 5 causes for students to drop out from university? ›

5 reasons students drop out of college
  • Lack of Discipline. The number one reason students drop out of college is a lack of discipline. ...
  • Difficulty and workload. ...
  • Choosing the wrong major. ...
  • Family or Economic Issues. ...
  • Living in an inapt college atmosphere.
Aug 23, 2022

What percent of college dropouts go back? ›

Students aged between 24-29 are most likely to drop out of four-year colleges, as 52.5% of them have already left without a degree (What to Become, 2021). Only 30% of these dropouts re-enroll in college to finish their degree (EDI, 2021).

Do I have to pay back fafsa if I drop out of college? ›

Though colleges and the government will use terms like “awarded” financial aid dollars, the money is actually earned. Therefore, when a student drops out of college, they have to pay back a certain amount of their financial aid, which is determined by a refund-calculation formula.

How can I go back to college with no money? ›

Here are nine ways to pay for college with no money:
  1. Apply for scholarships.
  2. Apply for financial aid and grants.
  3. Consider going to community college or trade school first.
  4. Negotiate with the college for more financial aid.
  5. Get a work-study job.
  6. Trim your expenses.
  7. Take out federal student loans.
Oct 26, 2022

What are signs that college isn't for you? ›

Red Flags That Might Mean A College Isn't the Right Fit For You
  • The Feeling Isn't Right. ...
  • The Course Selection is Too Limiting. ...
  • Your Prospective Department Only Teaches Certain Things. ...
  • The Student Culture. ...
  • The Price of Tuition. ...
  • Everyone Would Recognize Your School's Name. ...
  • Your Parents Want You To Go… But You Don't.
Dec 22, 2022

How do you survive after dropping out? ›

Here are a few suggestions to help you develop a vision and plan for your future after college.
  1. Get a part-time job. ...
  2. Find an internship. ...
  3. Take a gap year. ...
  4. Pursue a creative interest. ...
  5. Start your own business. ...
  6. Get an entry-level job. ...
  7. Pursue an online education. ...
  8. Travel.
Dec 22, 2021

What to do when you feel behind in college? ›

Go through all of your classes—even if you think you're behind in only one or two—and make a list of things you've accomplished, such as, "finished the reading through week three," as well as things you haven't, for example, "started the research paper due next week." This isn't necessarily a list of what you'll need ...

What age do most people drop out? ›

Students aged between 24-29 are most likely to drop out of four-year colleges, as 52.5% of them have already left without a degree (What to Become, 2021). Only 30% of these dropouts re-enroll in college to finish their degree (EDI, 2021).

Do dropouts regret it? ›

WASHINGTON -- Most students who drop out of high school in the United States admit they made a mistake by quitting and some say they might have stayed if classes were more challenging, according to a report released today.

Is dropping out of school OK? ›

California students may drop out legally once they turn 18. Students who are 16 or 17 may also leave school, but only if they: have their parents' permission, and. pass the California High School Proficiency Exam, which leads to a certificate that's equivalent to a diploma (more on that below).

What does depression in college look like? ›

Symptoms of depression and anxiety can include:

Difficulty with schoolwork. Loss of interest in activities, such as clubs, sports or other social commitments. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Emotional outbursts, such as tearfulness or anger.


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