Some school districts will allow you to retake high school classes to replace low grades, but not all of them will. The most important factor in this is the school district’s policies. To find out if you can remedy your bad grades, make an appointment to talk to your guidance counselor.
In most situations, schools might not let you erase your bad grades, but they will let you do what’s called “credit recovery.” Credit recovery is a process by which you get a second chance at a class you failed in order to earn the credit. With some schools, completing credit recovery will also let you replace your old grade with the new grade, but other schools will keep both the old grade and the new one on your records.
At some high schools, it is possible to retake classes online in order to receive credit or bring up low grades.
Research Your School’s Retake Policies
Many schools and school districts have policies that vary widely for retaking classes. At some schools, you are required to retake classes that you fail in order to earn credit for that course and fulfill graduation requirements. However, that doesn’t mean that the new passing grade will replace your former grade on your GPA.
At other schools, you have to retake classes that you fail to earn credit, but you can also use the new higher grade to improve your GPA. At these schools and school districts, the retake essentially acts like a do-over, nullifying your previous mistakes in the class to give you a clean slate.
Where you take the class may also differ. Some schools require you to take the class in the classroom setting, sometimes even with the same teacher, meaning you could end up in a class of freshmen even if you’re a sophomore. Other schools are more lenient, allowing students to make up classes in computer labs on campus or at home through e-learning services on their own time.
Retake High School Classes at School
Retaking a class that you already failed sounds worse than it actually is. In fact, there are several benefits to retaking a class in person instead of online, especially if you’re a social learner, or you often find yourself distracted. Learning in a classroom setting can help you stay on track with the curriculum. You’ll also be able to ask questions if the work is too hard, an advantage you won’t have if you’re at home staring at a computer screen.
Another major benefit to retaking a class in person is that you should be able to use the knowledge you already have from taking the class the first time. If you’re taking the class again with the same teacher or even at the same school, many of the readings and the assignments will be the same as they were the previous year. This most likely will not be true of an online course, which may rely on different readings and assignments altogether.
Believe it or not, for some subjects, taking the class in person can actually be easier. Classes that include physical activity or lab experiments are difficult to accomplish outside the classroom, so online versions of those classes may involve extra work to make up for interactive assessments.
Retake High School Classes Online
Even though retaking high school classes in person has its benefits, for some students, taking classes online can be even better. Online classes are best for students who get bad grades in the traditional classroom setting, whether it's because they need more time to work on assignments, require another perspective on the topic or need a less-distracting learning environment. Ask your guidance counselor for details about the e-learning class and its teaching methods before you sign up.
Although some high schools require students retaking classes to do so in an on-campus computer lab, many allow students to sign up for classes that are 100 percent online. These classes are ideal for students who need a more controlled learning environment. Doing work at home allows students to create a quiet, comfortable and studious atmosphere for themselves.
Before you sign up for online classes to replace the ones you failed, be honest with yourself: Can you handle keeping up the pace of the class on your own? Many online classes are self-paced, so students who know the material can pass them much more quickly than they would in a traditional classroom setting. However, students who don’t understand the material or who are known procrastinators may not benefit from online classes because it’s possible to put off e-learning assignments until the end of the quarter or semester.
Ask Your Teacher to Change the Grade
If you already did your homework on researching your school’s grade-change policies, you already know if this option is available. At some schools, you can choose to retake part of the class you failed in the classroom. If you can prove to your teacher that you have mastered the standards required for the class, your teacher may be able to sign a form that gives you credit for the class you previously failed.
The teacher may also be able to change your grade, and if you play your cards right, they could bump it up to an A, especially if your failed grade was due to extenuating circumstances like family difficulties or a personal illness. The most important part of this option is talking to your teachers.
After you make sure that this option is available at your school, ask your teacher in person if there is anything you can do to make up your previous grade. If you already have a good rapport with your teacher, taking this step will be much easier than slogging through an entire course online.
Do Things Differently With Your Retake
The easiest way to fail is to repeat the same mistakes you already made. Before you go down the same path you did the first time, brainstorm ways that you can make this class retake different from the first time you took it.
If you didn't study the first time, set a block of time every day when you can hit the books. If the material was too hard, ask for help. Ask your teacher for assistance. If your teacher won't or can't help you, go to the public library and ask the youth services librarian for help finding a tutor or study partner.
Other Ways to Improve Your GPA
After you finish retaking your course – whether online or in the classroom – you may still have a low GPA with which to contend. Fortunately, there are many avenues you can pursue to start bringing up that number. If your school allows you to improve your grade for a class by retaking it, you could retake other classes during the summer to boost your GPA.
If you’re a sophomore, you still have plenty of time to rack up some great grades before applying to college. Study hard and ask for help in the classes you’re already in and start planning other classes that can enhance your resume.
If your GPA is high enough, you may be able to get into AP classes, which are weighted and can bring up your GPA even more. You may also be able to dual enroll at your local community college. This can boost your GPA and let you earn classes toward an associate degree.
- The New York Times: Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help
- PrepScholar: What Is Summer School? Guide for High School Students
- Los Angeles Times: Schools Are Boosting Graduation Rates by Offering 'Credit Recovery.' But What Are Students Learning?
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Retaking Classes Online: ‘Awful if Someone Really Wants to Learn’
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.