How Do You Study a Subject You Hate?

Today’s ‘question of the day’ comes from Joy in the U.K. Actually, it’s two questions.

Many Thanks Dr Marc,
This seems like a positive start for me, but I’ve got an important question.

I am currently in my penultimate year in the university, studying in the UK. I was just wondering if these study skills to get better grades are skills for only students in The USA or also relates to the students everywhere else.

Study Tips For Better Grades

My strategies have been used by thousands of students to improve their grades in 29 different countries and the book has been translated into 3 languages. Students from grade school, middle school, high school, college, university and post-graduate programs have used the study tips and techniques successfully.

My study tips and tools work for science subjects, social science courses, engineering, law as well as medicine.

Also I’ve got another problem which I find difficult to solve is the interest to study, I think I have the interest as I promise myself to study everyday but as soon as I pick up my books to study I lose interest immediately again it takes me so much time to understand a few lines of words while studying and I can hardly remember them too which is to say I think they do not register. It has been a great concern to me and I have been too shy to speak to anybody. I know and have this confidence in me that makes me think I am intelligent and can make it but as soon as I encounter a difficult task I become weak and just give up. I am afraid I will fail and have to repeat a class if I don’t find a solution quick.

I need your help please and hope to hear from you soon.


How To Study Subjects You Don’t Like

There are two issues at play here – the first is you THINK you are interested in the subject matter, but the reality is you’re not. If you were, you’d have NO TROUBLE STARTING. I’ll prove it to you.

If you are a stamp collector and you start to read about the new issue of the new Olympic Stamps for the London Games – you have NO PROBLEM with focus, attention or retention do you?

That’s because you’re INTERESTED.

The challenge we all have as students is that EVERY ACADEMIC PROGRAM has courses we don’t like. I remember hating Thermodynamics in Engineering School, Chemistry in College and Multi-Variate Statistics in Business School (Ph.D.).

But y’know what?

YOU DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. It’s part of the curriculum and you have to pass the course to get the diploma and the degree.

I suggest you do THAT homework FIRST – get it out of the way – DON’T DO WHAT YOU LIKE FIRST. That is a recipe for disastrous grades – it will increase your chance of failure BECAUSE you’ll spend MORE time on what you like and not enough time on what you don’t like…

Don’t do it.

Of course that’s easier said than done. BUT if you start studying  what you don’t like, you’ll feel RELIEF and a LOT LESS STRESS. We all have to study stuff we don’t like – we NEED TO. We need to be aware of things because that’s what education is all about. There is NOTHING you can do about it -EXCEPT to get it out of the way FIRST and QUICKLY.

If you want to get through the boring subjects quickly, get your hands on my Speed Reading Video Program so that you spend LESS time on the subjects you hate. Speed Reading will FORCE you to focus and concentrate and get it out of the way in a fraction of the time. Imagine spend HALF the time on chemistry, physics or geography… How cool would that be?!?

Student Self Confidence and Self Esteem

That being said, the SECOND issue you have is with confidence and self-esteem. That is a lot harder to deal with. If you are keen to deal with this, I have a colleague who can help you get a breakthrough. Her name is Yvonne Mcintosh and she has ‘breakthrough sessions‘ for $97 that she can do over the phone. She’s based in Australia, but you can definitely do it through Skype for FREE or via a long distance calling card. Click on the hyperlink if you want to overcome this self-esteem issue quickly.

If you don’t choose to have the breakthrough session, all you need to do is top putting pressure on yourself and focus on the fact that whenever you LEARN something NEW, it’s by definition something YOU DON’T KNOW.

It takes time and effort to learn something NEW.

One of the strategies I teach is to start at the beginning – for example for Statistics, I bought the Cartoon Guide To Statistics to get the basics in a FUN WAY. I bought this as a Graduate School Student to help me with my MBA and Ph.D. courses.

I’m serious. I did the same for other subjects as well.

The “For Dummies” series of books is a GREAT PLACE TO START whenever you’re intimidated with a subject.

Fundamentally – we all put ourselves under pressure – when you put the study tips, techniques and strategies in my book, Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort in practice, you’ll gain self-assurance and confidence within 2-3 weeks.

This will be especially true if you learn to speed read!

Good luck!

15 Responses to “How Do You Study a Subject You Hate?”

  • Wow! This assures me that I’m not the only one who thinks studying the subject that I hate the most (chemistry) which is a major subject is equivalent to dying.

    Every time I think about it, that I have to study, I start to grieve in the inside and I procrastinate all the time because I hate it!

    …And the fact that all my classmates this summer are geniuses! I sit at the back looking at the teacher like I haven’t taken chemistry before. They intimidate me. That’s what worries me.

    The fact that they like solving problems and I’m not that kind of person. I’m more interested in writing or any arts course. But sadly, I’m enrolled in a science course.

    • I am not suggesting you quit your science program, but you really should be thinking about what you are doing in it since science is entirely based on problem solving, regardless of the subject.

      Aligning your dreams, desires and passions is vitally important for success. The minute you find something you LOVE to do, it gets easy, effortless and fun!

      That being said, let me be crystal clear – we sometimes have to study subjects we don’t like. For example, I wanted to be an engineer and I had to take chemistry in college and I hated it, but I had to pass it to get INTO engineering.

      Once in engineering school, I had to take several subjects I hated – including thermodynamics which I hated even more than chemistry!

      The point is that the educational system teaches us HOW TO LEARN. Sometimes that includes stuff we’re not interested in.

      That is not unlike a job. You will have to do things you don’t enjoy and you will need to LEARN how to do them.

      That’s life. The sooner you learn how to learn QUICKLY, the faster you can move on to doing things you like and enjoy!

      That’s why my accelerated learning strategies are so important to learn.

  • This is a good article I will use it. I am failing American History, man do I hate that class! i

    I have all A’s and B’s in every class but not this one.

    If this work’s I will have such a relaxing year!


  • Thank you! I have an Algebra final coming up, and I’m taking the class a year before 7/8 of my class. It is certainly stressing me out and lately i haven’t been feeling very smart at all 🙁 My teacher only encourages that feeling as to him talking about how i have a 79% every time i see him is the only important thing. I have high A’s in every other class, but when it comes to math, im becoming SOO discouraged. I want to do well on my exam and in class, and this has most definitely helped. THANK YOU SO MUCH! 🙂

  • True… I am not interested with the subject thus I don’t like to learn it but then you know you have to and then you will hate it. I am going through the same thing right now, I am not really interested with this particular subject because I don’t understand a single thing though I know in myself it’s really because that I’m not interested that’s why I don’t understand it to begin with.

    I know I have to study this subject because it’s my major but I’m just really having a hard time getting through with this subject, it discussed a lot of difficult stuff well for me, I find it very difficult that’s why every time there’s a recitation I ended up being humiliated because I can’t properly defend or explain myself a bit more because I’m not using the proper terms or right usage of words that I’m not really interested with that’s why I have no idea.

    I dunno I’m just really having hard time getting through with this subject and with my course, maybe because I’m not that interested at all. And unfortunately I don’t have the kind of privilege to shift or change my course because of personal matters. What just keeps me going is that I know I’ll get a good job if I survive this course, and I only like (favorite) one major in here which is foreign language, politics and economics are be damned.

    I’m an international relations student major in diplomacy, and I hate international trade or economics, but I need to like it, not just only the subject but also my course, because I need a degree. So better get started to like my course by first to get interested with it, even though my real interests (which is arts) is really far from it, better think arts is the same as politics and economics, I must really try hard to imagine that. Thanks for sharing this article! I like your tips! I hope this will really help me.

    • Hi Allison,

      Hating a course is one thing, hating the material something else and hating the subject matter another matter altogether.

      Imagine getting a job in the subject matter of your major – how (IN)competent will you be? How miserable will you be doing that all day? I suggest you keep your degree, but change your MAJOR to something you like, so you succeed and end up doing something you like.

      Just so you know, you are not alone, 80% of professionals DON’T LIKE their jobs… Only 20% like what they do and a smaller % LOVE what they do.

      It’s a long time (the rest of your life) to spend doing something you HATE.

      Just so we’re clear. I hated Thermodynamics in Engineering School – it was a CORE course – not my major. I loved my majors… Geotechnical and Hydraulics/Water Resources… I worked in that field for 3 years and loved the subject matter…

      So you don’t have to LOVE the course… But you can’t HATE the subject matter.

      Good luck!

  • Thanks for this. I’m struggling to pass economics but getting As in all my other subjects. My final is tomorrow and I’m just hoping these tips work!

  • So I’m studying accounting… I never did it in high school but chose it as a major in university. To my surprise I love the subject and am doing really well but I am forced to take management for this semester and the subject at my university is regarded as a joke… Many lecturers make fun of the subject and look down upon it which really discourages me to learn it.

    The subject has no application and is purely theory which drives me insane because the management lecturers barely show up on time and do not take the subject seriously as a result I find it hard to find motivation to study the subject and more often than not I find myself cramming the subject into my head at 3 in the morning for a test at 9.

    I know this isn’t sustainable and that’s why I’m looking for any sort of advice to help me tackle this problem now so that if I have to end up studying a similar subject under similar conditions I’ll be better prepared…

    • We all have subjects we don’t enjoy and/or teachers who are not inspiring. The onus remains on YOU to be interested.

      As an Masters Of Business Administration (MBA) graduate AND a Doctorate graduate of Business Administration I agree that Management is too often taught theoretically instead of pragmatically. The reason being largely because “it’s always been done that way”.

      This is not good or bad, it just is what it is and you need to “get over it”.

      Don’t focus on the teachers – focus on what YOU want to get out of it. One thing I used to do is IMAGINE you are given the task of teaching the lecture that you just attended… What would YOU have done, said or explained?

      How would YOU give the lecture?

      When YOU can do that – you’ll uncover the magic of learning and mastering the subject.

  • I’ve been struggling for such a long time in my Engineering Major. I just feel I’m the black swan and most classmates are geniuses. I just can’t sit down and read a few pages without thinking of something else. I’ve failed in a few courses as well.

    I’m really good at languages and I like to learn them using any methods other than sitting down to memorize and read a bunch of stuff I won’t remember a few hours later. A lot of people told me to move to International Relations and I’ve read about courses like Translation and Interpretation.

    I’m in third year out of 5 but the main point is that I don’t have the engineer way of thinking. Every time my classmates talk about the subjects I kind of wanna get away from it cause I have no idea what they are talking about.

    I don’t think I would be able to develop any projects in such field of study. A lot of people tell me that I can use my ability with languages further when working as an engineer but that seems to far away for me. I’m so lost and I feel that’s a turning point in my career and studies, cause I gotta choose what to do and do it well.

    • Hi Vinny,
      I am not a career counselor so please take this as advice that you would need to discuss with people close to you.

      First, you need to ask yourself why you’re in Engineering in the first place… Understanding why you made this decision helps put things in perspective for you.

      Second, an engineering education teaches you how to THINK and SOLVE PROBLEMS. You don’t have to practice as an engineer to use those skills. I am not sure of the percentage, but MANY engineering graduates don’t “practice” engineering after graduation. I am an engineer and very early in my career I chose to go into business and applied by technical skills to BUILD BUSINESSES.

      Third, languages are great – I am multi-lingual, but speaking is NOT a career unless you use that skill as a translator, writer, editor, interpreter, etc. You need to have OTHER skills to leverage languages… Who wants to hear someone who doesn’t know or do anything?!?!

      Fourth, you need to find your passion, what excites and motivates you. Without that you will always DRIFT and feel frustrated.

      Last, but not least – any lack of focus or attention is a sign of weakness and/or commitment to your goal. If you are in engineering school, you need to COMMIT to be good at that – that means you need to “suck it up” and do the work. Focus and get on with it. It will pay off – at some point in the future. As an engineering graduate you WILL get paid more than a language major… That will translate to HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS of extra income for a very small/short investment over the next 2 years.

      Just research the benefits of an engineering degree and you’ll see how beneficial it is to have – FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE/CAREER…

      Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

      Onward and upward!
      Dr Marc Dussault

  • This has been the most useful article I have read this year; I always find a problem in studying SCIENCE in general; though I love it, but I can’t help it; everytime I think about me studying it; I start getting myself into anything else; I always get an A* every year, but this year I don’t know what happened.

  • I’m currently studying engineering. I’m in my 2nd and a half year – i still have 3 more to go. I want to do drop out so bad, but i don’t know if it’s a good idea. I don’t like any of my engineering classes. I understand that engineering is a very useful skill to have and can lead to many benefits, i just wish I could think like an engineer and be interested in the courses!

    Fortunately, I can strongly say I already found my passion which is photography and film-making. I took a year off/ leave of absence from engineering due to mental health reasons and I used my time off to build my photo portfolio where it has landed me amateur paid work. Photography and film-making is something I would love to do as a career, and even do it without pay since i love it so much, but my parents do not support me at all. On the side, I’ve been working super hard to get paid photo/film work and I have, but I haven’t been able to do this full-time since engineering is taking up more of my time/priority.

    I am super fortunate and thankful that my parents will pay and support my engineering, but sadly they will not pay or support my photo/film-making (including school, housing, etc). I decided to go back to school for engineering to give it one more try, but I’m having an even harder time with it now while juggling with my mental health issues which made me take a leave in the first place. I despise every single one of my engineering classes, although on the bright side one thing i learned this year is how important engineering is – it’s such a useful degree that can land you a job right away, and it teaches you such valuable hardworking skills. The problem is I don’t like any of my classes and it’s affecting my mental health severely, where I just want to quit. Yes, I think engineering is interesting, but I can say the same for almost any other job/field: Being a doctor, astronaut, olympic athlete, the next Elon Musk, work for Telsa (Engineering related: yes!) Who wouldn’t right?. Of course I think engineering is interesting, but when it comes to learning the actual concepts and thinking about doing this as a career is a different story and I really wouldn’t want to do this as a career, i find the content difficult,confusing, and it doesn’t click with me at all. It doesn’t fit me and doesn’t feel right at all. I originally chose engineering in the first place because my parents forced me to and I didn’t see the repercussions of choosing it until i experienced it. I just thought: “Oh I will listen to my parents and do engineering because I will make lots of money and get a job after college”.

    In a perfect world I would love to do my photography since it’s my passion, but since my parents don’t support me with that I decided to suck it up and do engineering since it is a road where I will have a roof under me, food, comfort, etc (since my parents will only support my living if i do engineering). I don’t think like an engineer, im bad at it, and im failing my classes. I don’t know how to “suck it up” for the next 3 years studying something I’m not interested in or if i should make a bold move and drop out of school, disappoint and move out from my parents, and pursue my passion of photography/film-making barely scrapping by at the start since I have no financial support. Or is there a way to force myself to enjoy engineering?

    Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Ryan,
      First of all, I am biased because one of my five university degrees is in engineering and I am an proponent of formal education – especially engineering and a proper MBA. What many people confuse is their passion and their profession. Sure SOME people can excel at both like Annie Liebovitz. She has a Masterclass on photography you might be interested in:

      I have taken my passion for squash and now I get paid to coach…

      But that doesn’t happen in a vacuum and I am not an advocate of “following your dreams” – most people’s dreams lead to a dead end, which is sad, but that’s just the way it is.

      If you have mental illness issues – those should be your primary concern. To address those and then determine how your educational goals and aspirations fit in with those conditions, constraints and/or limitations/requirements…

      Thanks for your submission and good luck!

      Dr Marc Dussault
      Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort

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