How to Improve Your Grades as a Student with ADHD

Once you’re diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), managing your learning differences can be a challenge. I remember when I was a recently diagnosed sophomore in high school and the teachers who were willing to help limit my distractions and lend me support.

To get you started on improving your focus and your grades at school, here are some strategies that I’ve found helpful:
1. Inform your homeroom advisers or guidance counselor of your diagnosis.
I put this at the top of the list because your homeroom advisers and guidance counselors can be your mentors or advocates at school. They may also have access to resources that can help you better understand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and how you can excel academically, despite your differences.

2. Sit at the front of the class or nearest your teacher.
By sitting at the front of the class or nearest your teacher, you limit environmental distractions from your peers, the street outside (in New York City there’s always street noise from passing taxis or garbage trucks), or diversions within your classroom. You also guide your focus to what’s most immediate, in this case, the material presented in class.

3. Ask to take tests in a quiet environment.
I can’t begin to explain how much a quiet environment improved my test taking abilities. Instead of feeling like a minnow in a sea of scribbling pencils and turning pages, a quiet environment allows you to focus on the questions or the essay at hand.

4. Meet with teachers outside of class.
If you feel like you’re zoning out during class or are falling behind in your homework, be honest and proactive. Many teachers will take the time to sit down with you and figure out strategies to help improve your concentration in class. If there’s material that you’ve missed due to a bout of monkey mind, this can also be a time to admit to your shortcomings that day and ask to review the in-class material together. Setting up a weekly meeting with the teachers whose classes you have trouble in can be an effective way to increase your understanding of the material and your grades in that class.

5. Find someone to confide in.
Friends, teachers, or family members…choose confidants whom you can be yourself around. The simple act of sharing your feelings and hardships with those you trust will lessen your burden.

6. Recognize the subjects that you excel in or enjoy.

As I describe in my posts ADD / ADHD Super Children: How to Develop Your Inner Powers, One More Super Power: Hyper-Attention, and ADHD Kids: Nurture their Strengths, Value their Weaknesses, many strengths accompany ADHD too! By paying attention to the subjects and activities that you excel in, you can pinpoint your unique skills and apply them to other areas both in and outside of school. Often the activities that you find fun are those that your ADHD mind is able to hyper-focus on and thus make use of your full mental/physical efforts!
Children's Health MATTERS: I love seeing this sign on my walks to/from home!

What strategies have you learned to focus in school? Have your teachers, friends, or parents helped you to overcome your difficulties? If so, how?