About our writer
Georgia graduated with a Masters Degree in Renaissance Literature from Girton College, Cambridge, last July
So, you’re doing really well at a subject at school – that’s great! You’re achieving top grade after top grade in all your assignments, all your friends want to borrow your notes, lessons are an absolute breeze for you, and, quite frankly, you’re not sure why others seem to struggle so much with your subject in question. What could possibly be better? Well, counter-intuitive as it may seem, when you feel like this about a particular subject at school, it is time to try something new.
It can be easy when you’re confident in a subject at school to become somewhat complacent and not put in the effort you need to really push yourself and to make sure that you keep getting better, especially if you want to study it at a university level. With this in mind, read on and find out 7 easy ways to go the extra mile in the subject you’re best at. If you follow these tips, you’ll end up with even better results and a real love for the subject in question which will take you through to university and beyond.
Caring is key: Remind yourself why you care
It’s the oldest adage in the book, but it’s completely true. If you are really passionate about a subject, you will do better in it, it’s as simple as that. Even if you feel that you are just good at a subject and that you don’t really have an outside interest in it (as can be the case for subjects such as maths), see if you can find an element of the subject which really lights your fire and focus your energies on that and the results will come in.
Read outside of the curriculum
Of course, if you want to go beyond what is expected of you, speaking to your teachers about what might be optional, or outside the curriculum is an excellent way to really push yourself beyond your peers and to gain a deeper understanding of your subject.
The curriculum is bound to be limited by time and practical considerations, such as the need to fit the subject material into an examinable format which students can learn and memorise in a given time frame, and you will certainly experience a great sense of satisfaction by being able to move beyond that. Naturally, I have to say, it is important that you keep your primary focus on making sure you can boss what is on the curriculum – as you also have to do well in these exams – this is just an added extra to top up your knowledge and take you to the next level.
Make sure you contribute in class
As mentioned before, it can be very easy to become a little overconfident when you are so good at a particular subject – which can sometimes result in you feeling that you do not need to contribute in class, since you already know the answers anyway. This is not the best attitude, and it’s an easy trap to fall into. Think about it this way, by speaking up a reasonable amount (and not overdoing it, obviously!) you are sharing your knowledge with the rest of the group and showing your teacher that you do actually know what you are talking about.
Oh, and it goes without saying that if your teacher never sees you contribute then you might not get the best reference to go and study your subject of choice at university as you are not showing an engagement with the subject – even if your grades are top notch. So, in short, make sure you speak up!
Ask for more work
Yes, I am serious about this recommendation. But only if you want to, and you do actually have to do the extra work. If you’re wanting to make sure you’re stimulated in your subject and you are finding the class material too simplistic it might be time to see if there are additional tasks you can take on in order to push yourself beyond your current ability level. Make sure you give your teacher some warning before writing fifteen extra essays you need marking though…
Keep abreast of developments in the outside world in your subject
All in all, this is by far the most important advice I can give you. For all of those moments where you might be wondering what relevance learning from books can have in the outside world, keeping yourself grounded and connected with the latest developments outside of the classroom can be an excellent way to really push yourself to think about your subject more seriously – and will set you in excellent stead for university. Again, if you’re great at something like maths and you’re not sure what the latest developments are in your subject, just ask your teachers – they’ll be delighted to help you find out more.
Help your friends out
Sharing is caring after all! One of the best ways to ensure you really understand something and to take this understanding to the next level is to explain it to someone else. The key is not to just tell your friends what they should know, but to help them reach an understanding themselves. Of course, they can do the same for you in subjects they are better at in revision periods, and you will find that you all get better results as a consequence.
Alternatively, if you would find this process an awkward or uncomfortable one (or your friends might not take it so well), you could always offer to start tutoring younger students in your favourite subject – and you could end up being paid for it pretty well too. Win, win!
Check out the university syllabuses and get ahead
If you are at the stage of your life where you are thinking ahead to university, looking ahead at what the university syllabuses look like for your subject is a great idea, without letting it panic you. Remember, at the moment, you’re studying at least three subjects at A-level and having to divide your time accordingly, but by the time you’re at university, you will be able to focus on just one subject, with the support of amazing academics in your field and all the other students.
So, in summary, if you find yourself feeling complacent at school with a particular subject, or you’ve reached a bit of a standstill in your grades, enjoy using my seven easy ways to boost your performance in your subject of choice. This will also help make that transition to university-level independent study as easy and enjoyable as possible!