My Dyslexia and Academic Struggles

I was not identified with dyslexia until I was 18 years old and in the first year of my undergraduate degree. The reason I was assessed then is all down to the fact that two of my A-Level teachers picked up on me being different and encouraged me to take a test to be able to type my exams. The test did not tell me that I was dyslexic, but it did tell me that I needed additional support. My History teacher suggested to me on results day in August 2016, that he believed I was dyslexic, but that he was not qualified to be able to prove it. He then encouraged me to seek an assessment at university and stated that he would support me in any way I needed to gain that identification.

I found my A-level subjects very hard, due to the fact that they required me to learn information and then apply the information to my understanding of the subject. I really struggled with working out specifically what the information was meant to be applied to. I actually only achieved a U in one of my Psychology exams, due to struggling to apply the information, despite revising incredibly hard. In A-Level History when we completed past exam questions, I often struggled to manage more than an E grade, despite possessing the highest understanding of the content in the class. My teacher commented that if the exams were a question of remembering, I would come first every time, but as the exams were about applying the information I struggled.

During the first year of my degree, I found reading the large quantity of academic texts for seminars and lectures incredibly difficult as all of the small, complicated words often ended up mashed up together; and I could not see the questions on my worksheet from my answers. To solve the problem, I began colour coding my answers, so that each question’s answer would stand out. I found the reading so much easier afterwards. I also began to highlight important pieces of text using a highlighter, or a pencil if it was a borrowed copy.

During my second year of my degree, I struggled with learning about historiography, as none of it made any sense to me. When it came to writing the essay on the topic, I was completely lost. I used my extra two weeks I was entitled to, as a dyslexic, but still only managed a third as I had misunderstood the essay question.

In my third year, I became incredibly overwhelmed with my dissertation and left a lot of the writing to last minute, as I found such a mammoth task so hard to tackle. Despite finding my dissertation daunting, I managed to overcome the issue and gained a 2:1 for my piece. In an article I wrote as an assignment during my third year, I gained a 2:2 due to misrepresenting the information. My lecturer commented that my article, content-wise was possibly the best in the class, I had however misunderstood how to present the information, and as a result unfortunately had to be given a lower grade.

Despite all my difficulties and set backs, I graduated in 2019 with a 2:1 in History. Life will give you setbacks especially if you have a learning difficulty, but never let your dyslexia get in the way of your hopes and desires. Absolutely have a go at what you find incredibly hard, I did, and it paid off for me.

Charis Gambon