We’ve all got one. One subject that we dread going to that will probably haunt us for years after we’ve been freed from the chains of high school.


It may be calculus, English, chemistry, or even drama. Everyone (and we mean even the people you think are geniuses) has a topic that they just don’t feel like they gel with.

Whatever the subject, there are steps you can take to get over (or just get through) the topic that you hate.





Start with you



The first place to start in trying to work through your dislike is yourself. Contrary to the phrase “I’m just not a ___” person, you actually can get better at something. Sure, some people are attracted towards certain things and may have a natural tendency to pick things up, but that does not mean that no one else can do it as well.

Quite often, when we feel that we’re not good at something, we’ll shut off and stop even trying. There’s a bit of a self-serving feature to this because if you don’t try, you don’t have to take as much accountability when it goes wrong. Instead, we can put it down to a lack of effort rather than a lack of talent.

PSA: Talent is built on effort.

By not even trying, we’re setting ourselves up for failure and further perpetuating the cycle.

It can be tough to take accountability, but the only way to get better at something is to recognise that what you’re currently doing isn’t working and needs to change.

Starting something when you don’t feel like you are (or ever will be) good at it can be intimidating for sure. However, it’s also the only way to get better.



Damage control



Cool, so now we’ve gone through the pep talk, it’s time to get to it. If you’re really feeling lost in a subject it can be difficult to even figure out where to start.

Have a think about what exactly is bothering you about the topic. Is it a particular standard? What in that standard is really challenging you?

Fight the instinctive thought of “everything” and actually go through the topic. StudyTime’s checklists (under each guide!) are a useful resource for external standards.

Another good place to look is the NZQA website which is your one-stop shop for every standard you could possibly be taking. Just find your standard and look at the bullet-pointed notes, these usually have the bulk of the content and format of the assessment.

Lastly, speak to your teacher or another person in your class. Sometimes, a 5-minute conversation clears a lot of uncertainties and can give you the idea or push to get going. Teachers may also be able to point you towards more content-specific resources or advice as well!

Getting a good idea of where you’re at, and the main areas you need to focus on is an incredibly useful way to give your study and strategies a direction.



Make a plan


Things are only as well executed as they are organised. What we mean by this, is that you should have a clear idea of how you will address your challenges.

Depending on what the content is, there may be varying different ways of approaching it. No matter which way you choose to go about your study, having a plan will ensure that you’re holding yourself accountable and tracking your progress.

It’s important to bear in mind when we make these kinds of plans, that we are only human at the end of the day not everything goes perfectly. Give yourself allowances every now and then and do your best to stay on track.

Missing one task doesn’t mean your whole schedule has gone out of the window and you just have to start again next week. Try again tomorrow, or try to catch yourself up. The important this is getting back on the horse.

When deciding ways of going about learning content, here’s a few ideas:
Make summary sheets (useful in learning a lot of concepts or content)
Make flashcards (useful for definitions and memorising evidence for essays)
Create graphs and charts (useful in outlining processes and interconnected ideas)
Practice previous questions (to get a hang of exam formatting and strategy)

There are a million other things you can do to prepare as well, but these ideas should give you a place to start.



Stay resilient



It can be a huge challenge to keep working at something you dislike or see as a chore. Unfortunately, you can’t force yourself to like something, and motivation is hard to muster up.

The most difficult thing about studying is sitting yourself down to actually study. A lot of people go on about motivation and how important this is in making progress.

Motivation is a bit overrated though, and instead we should focus on discipline. Having discipline is a much quicker route in creating sustained habits. Motivation is notoriously fleeting and difficult to conjure. Discipline is about just getting it done.

Reward yourself for the times you make progress, and forgive yourself when things don’t go to plan. Remember that you can’t become a professional overnight and that no one can. Gradual, incremental progress is the best way to measure the effort you’re putting into your work



Sum up


Disliking one subject doesn’t mean you absolutely hate school. It can feel like this sometimes though, where the uncertainty can taint your entire feeling about school. 

When you’re thinking about the way you want your year to go, focus on what you can do, not what you should have done. Do your best to stay positive and set yourself up to complete the rest of your year so that you can be proud of what you have achieved and the hard work you’ve done to get there.


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