11 Strategies to Handle Difficult Subjects: Easy Tips for Students

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Struggling with tough subjects in school or college? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Tackling difficult subjects can feel like climbing a mountain, but with the right strategies, it gets easier. In this article, we’ll dive into simple, practical strategies to handle those difficult subjects easily. From breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized chunks to staying positive and seeking help when needed, these straightforward approaches will guide you through the maze of challenging subjects. Whether it’s math, science, history, or languages, these tips—explained in easy-to-understand language—will empower you to conquer those tricky subjects and pave your way to success!

How to handle difficult subjects for study?

Handling difficult subjects while studying can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can employ to make the process more manageable:

1. Break it down

Divide the subject into smaller, more manageable sections or topics. Tackle each part one at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Image by svklimkin from Pixabay

Imagine you’re trying to learn about a big topic in history, like World War II. It’s a massive subject with lots of different events, people, and countries involved. Instead of trying to learn everything about World War II all at once, you can break it down into smaller parts.

For instance, you might start by focusing on specific aspects, like the causes of the war, key battles, important leaders, or the impact on different countries. Take one part at a time. So, let’s say you decide to begin with the causes of the war. You could research and study that part first, trying to understand what led to the war without worrying about all the other details just yet.

By dividing the big topic into smaller sections, you make it easier to understand and remember. It helps prevent feeling overwhelmed because you’re not trying to learn everything in one go. Once you feel confident about the causes, you can then move on to studying another part, like the key battles or significant leaders involved. This way, you gradually build your knowledge without getting too stressed out or confused by trying to learn everything at once.

Actionable steps:

  • Identify the subject or topic you find challenging.
  • Divide it into smaller, manageable sections or topics.
  • Focus on understanding one part before moving on to the next.

2. Understand the basics

Ensure you have a solid understanding of the foundational concepts before delving into more complex topics. Build a strong base to support further learning.

understanding the basics
Photo by George Dolgikh

Think of learning like building a house. Before you start adding fancy rooms or complex designs, you need a strong foundation. In studying, this foundation is made of the basics—the fundamental ideas or concepts that everything else is built upon.

For example, let’s say you’re learning mathematics, specifically algebra. Before diving into complicated equations, you need to understand the basic principles, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These are the building blocks of algebra. If you’re not comfortable with these basics, solving more complex algebra problems will be really tough.

So, take your time to understand and practice these fundamental concepts. Once you’re confident with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, you can gradually move to more advanced topics within algebra, like solving equations or working with variables. Without a strong grasp of the basics, the more complex topics will feel confusing and difficult to understand.

Actionable steps:

  • Identify the foundational concepts within the subject.
  • Spend time mastering these basic principles before tackling more complex ideas.
  • Use resources like textbooks, online tutorials, or educational videos to reinforce these foundational concepts.

3. Find alternative resources

If the textbook or material you’re using isn’t clear, seek out other resources like online tutorials, videos, or articles that explain the subject in different ways. Sometimes a different perspective can make it easier to understand.

Imagine you’re studying a subject like science or biology, and the textbook you have isn’t explaining a concept very clearly. It happens sometimes because not all books are perfect for everyone.

So, what you can do is look for other resources that explain the same topic in different ways. For instance, you can search online for videos, websites, or articles that talk about that particular concept. Sometimes, a video might use animations or diagrams that make it easier to understand, while an article might explain things in a simpler way than your textbook.

For example, if you’re trying to understand photosynthesis in biology and the textbook isn’t making it clear, you can search for online tutorials or educational videos about photosynthesis. Watching a video might show you visual examples or demonstrations that help you grasp the concept better than just reading about it in your book.

By exploring different resources, you might find one that clicks with your way of learning. It’s like trying different keys to open a door—if one doesn’t work, you try another until you find the right one that fits and helps you understand the topic better.

Actionable steps:

  • If the primary material is unclear, seek additional resources like videos, articles, or online forums.
  • Look for resources that present the topic in different ways to gain a better understanding.

4. Create a study schedule

Dedicate regular time slots for studying the difficult subject. Consistency can help in understanding and retaining information better.

Creating a study schedule
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Imagine you have a tough subject, like learning a new language, and it’s challenging to remember all the vocabulary and grammar rules.

Creating a study schedule means planning specific times during your week to focus on that difficult subject. For instance, let’s say you decide to study the new language for 30 minutes every day after dinner. This consistent schedule helps your brain get used to learning at that time each day.

By sticking to this schedule, your brain knows that at that particular time, it’s time to focus on learning the language. Over time, this regular practice helps you remember new words, grammar rules, and phrases more easily because your brain gets into the habit of absorbing that information during those set study periods.

Consistency is like practicing a sport or playing a musical instrument—the more you practice regularly, the better you get. So, by setting aside regular time slots for studying the difficult subject, you’re giving your brain the chance to understand and remember the material more effectively.

Actionable steps:

  • Set aside regular time slots dedicated to studying the difficult subject.
  • Establish a consistent routine to help your brain focus and retain information better.

5. Use different learning methods

Mix up your study techniques. Experiment with methods like visual aids, creating diagrams, teaching the subject to someone else, or using mnemonic devices to help retain information.

Using different learning methods
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Let’s say you’re trying to learn about the solar system in science. Instead of just reading about it from a book, you can use different ways to help you remember and understand the planets and their positions.

For instance, you could create colorful diagrams or drawings of the planets and their order from the sun. Drawing them out yourself can help you visualize and remember their arrangement better than just reading about it.

Additionally, you could try making up a song or a rhyme that includes the names of the planets in their order from the sun. Singing or reciting this song might help you remember the planets more easily.

Another method could be explaining the solar system to someone else—maybe a friend, a family member, or even a pet! Teaching someone else forces you to understand the topic really well because you have to explain it in simple words.

Furthermore, you can look for videos or use educational apps that show the solar system in 3D or with interactive features. Watching these visual aids might help you understand how the planets move and their positions relative to each other.

By mixing up these different methods—drawing, singing, teaching, and using interactive tools—you engage your brain in various ways, making it easier to remember and understand the information about the solar system. So, try different study techniques to find what works best for you!

Actionable steps:

  • Experiment with various study techniques such as visual aids, diagrams, mnemonic devices, teaching the subject to others, or using educational apps.
  • Find the methods that work best for your learning style.

6. Practice, practice, practice

For subjects involving problem-solving or equations, practice is crucial. Do as many exercises as possible to reinforce your understanding.

Imagine you’re learning how to solve math problems involving fractions, and at first, it seems a bit tricky.

Practicing means doing lots of exercises related to fractions regularly. For example, if you’re learning to add and subtract fractions, you’d solve many problems involving adding and subtracting fractions repeatedly.

Let’s say you have an exercise that asks you to add different fractions together. You’d solve those problems one by one, following the steps you’ve learned. Then, you’d move on to another set of problems involving subtracting fractions, and you’d solve those too.

The more exercises you practice, the better you become at handling fractions. It’s like playing a musical instrument or a sport—the more you practice playing the piano or kicking a ball, the more skilled you become.

By doing many exercises, you reinforce your understanding of how to work with fractions. It helps you become faster and more confident in solving problems involving fractions because you’ve practiced so much that it becomes almost second nature to you. So, practice as much as you can, and soon enough, those tricky math problems will become much easier for you to solve!

Actionable steps:

  • Engage in numerous exercises and problems related to the subject.
  • Regularly practice problem-solving to reinforce your understanding and improve your skills.

7. Seek help

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from teachers, classmates, tutors, or online forums. Sometimes discussing problems with others can clarify doubts and deepen understanding.

Let’s say you’re working on a science project about the solar system, and there’s a part you’re finding confusing or tricky—like understanding the different types of galaxies.

Seeking help means reaching out to someone who can assist you, like your teacher, classmates, or even searching online forums related to astronomy or science.

For instance, if you’re having trouble understanding the types of galaxies despite reading about them, you might ask your teacher after class for some extra explanation. They can provide examples or explanations that make things clearer for you.

Alternatively, you could discuss this with your classmates who might have a different way of looking at galaxies that helps you understand better. Maybe someone else has a cool way of remembering the different types or has found a helpful video online.

Additionally, online forums or educational websites often have communities of people who are passionate about science. You can post your question about galaxies there, and someone experienced might offer a simple explanation or suggest helpful resources.

By seeking help from others, you gain different perspectives and explanations that might just click with you, making it easier to understand the confusing parts. Don’t worry about asking for help—it’s a great way to clarify doubts and deepen your understanding of the subject!

Actionable steps:

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification from teachers, classmates, tutors, or online forums.
  • Discuss problems or confusing concepts with others to gain different perspectives and deepen your understanding.

8. Take breaks

Give yourself short breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout. Taking breaks helps maintain focus and prevents information overload.

Imagine you’re studying for a history test, and you’ve been reading about different historical events and taking notes for a while.

Taking breaks means giving yourself short rests in between your study sessions. For example, after studying for about 30-45 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break to do something relaxing or fun. You could stretch, take a walk, listen to music, or even play a quick game on your phone.

Let’s say you’ve been reading about World War II for about 30 minutes, and you start feeling a bit tired or find it hard to focus. Instead of pushing yourself to keep studying without a break, you pause for a few minutes. During this break, you take a walk around your room, drink some water, or do a quick stretch. This short break helps your brain relax and recharge.

When you come back to studying after the break, you’ll likely feel more refreshed and focused. Your brain has had a chance to rest, so you can absorb information better compared to if you’d kept pushing yourself without a break.

Taking breaks is like giving your brain a little breather. It helps prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or tired, and it keeps your mind fresh and ready to absorb more information when you return to studying. So, remember to take those short breaks—they can actually help you study more effectively!

Actionable steps:

  • Incorporate short breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout.
  • Use these breaks to relax, stretch, or engage in activities that refresh your mind.

9. Stay positive

A positive attitude can significantly impact your ability to tackle difficult subjects. Believe in your capability to learn and understand the material.

Imagine you’re working on a math problem, and it seems really hard at first glance.

Staying positive means believing in yourself and your ability to figure things out—even if they seem tough. For instance, if you’re facing a tricky math problem that looks complicated, instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” try to stay positive and think, “I might not understand this yet, but I can figure it out with some effort.”

So, let’s say you start working on the math problem, and it feels challenging. Instead of getting frustrated or thinking it’s too difficult, try to approach it with a positive mindset. Break the problem down into smaller parts, use what you know, and give it your best shot.

Believing in yourself and staying positive can help you stay motivated to keep trying even when things get tough. It’s like having a can-do attitude that helps you face challenges and keeps you from giving up too soon.

Sometimes, a positive attitude can make a big difference in how you approach a difficult subject. When you believe in your capability to learn and understand the material, it becomes easier to tackle challenging problems, and you’re more likely to find solutions and understand things better. So, keep a positive mindset—it can really help you overcome difficult subjects!

Actionable steps:

  • Maintain a positive attitude towards tackling difficult subjects.
  • Believe in your capability to learn and understand the material, even when it feels challenging.

10. Review and revise

Regularly review what you’ve learned. Revisiting the material helps reinforce your memory and understanding.

Imagine you’ve been learning about a science topic like the water cycle, and you’ve studied it thoroughly.

Reviewing and revising means going back over the information you’ve learned. For instance, after learning about the water cycle, you can set aside some time—let’s say at the end of the week—to revisit the key points you’ve studied.

So, you might take out your notes, textbooks, or any summaries you’ve made about the water cycle. You go through the different stages—evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection—and remind yourself of the details and how they all fit together.

By doing this, you’re reinforcing what you’ve already learned. It’s like going back to check if you remember all the important parts correctly. Plus, reviewing helps refresh your memory, making it easier to recall the information when needed.

Another example could be before a test or an exam. Instead of only studying new topics, you take some time to review the things you’ve learned in the past weeks or months. This way, you’re not just learning things once and forgetting them; you’re constantly refreshing your memory, making the information stick better in your mind.

Regularly reviewing and revising what you’ve learned strengthens your understanding and memory of the subject. It’s like keeping the information fresh in your mind, which can be really helpful, especially when you need to recall it later on.

Actionable steps:

  • Set aside time regularly to review previously learned material.
  • Revisit key concepts, notes, or summaries to reinforce your memory and understanding.

11. Connect new information to existing knowledge

Try to relate new concepts to things you already know. Making connections can make it easier to understand and remember.

Let’s say you’re learning about a new concept in science, like how electricity works.

Connecting new information to existing knowledge means linking the new concept—electricity—to something you already understand. For example, you might already know about how water flows through pipes. You can compare the flow of electricity through wires to the flow of water through pipes.

So, when you’re learning about electricity, you can think of the wires as pathways, similar to how pipes carry water. This comparison can help you understand that electricity also needs a path to flow, just like water does in pipes.

Another way to connect new information to existing knowledge could be using everyday examples. For instance, when learning about electricity, you might relate it to the idea of turning on a light switch at home. Just like flipping a switch turns on a light bulb, the flow of electricity makes the bulb light up.

By making these connections, you’re using something you already understand—the flow of water or turning on a light switch—to help you understand a new concept like electricity. This makes it easier to grasp because it’s like building a bridge between what you know and what you’re learning.

Connecting new information to existing knowledge helps your brain make sense of new concepts by using familiar ideas as a foundation. It makes learning easier and remembering the new information becomes simpler because you’re associating it with something you already understand well.

Actionable steps:

  • Relate new concepts to things you already know or understand well.
  • Use analogies, everyday examples, or comparisons to link new information to familiar ideas for easier comprehension.


Facing tough subjects doesn’t have to be daunting. By implementing these straightforward yet powerful strategies, you can turn challenging subjects into conquerable territories. Remember, breaking down topics, seeking help, and staying positive can pave the way for smoother learning journeys. Embrace these tips, and watch your confidence soar as you navigate any academic challenge with ease and success!

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