A gifted athlete in high school who is unable to match his athletic success in the classroom


Mike is an eleventh grade student and a highly gifted athlete. While he is extremely successful on the playing field and can recite statistics for any team or player, he is failing biology. Mike maintains that he can’t remember the information when he has to take tests.

His parents are concerned that he doesn’t appear to be learning off of the field, even though he receives intensive coaching in both sports and in academics.

So what’s the problem?

How could someone with such a good memory seem unable to learn the information needed for his biology course?  Is he simply not trying?  Is he not motivated? Or, are there other issues?


After testing, it became apparent that Mike is one of those students who has an excellent memory for information in context, but has serious difficulty remembering isolated information (rote memory). Students with these issues struggle to learn such things as math facts, rules of punctuation, technical terms, and vocabulary. KSA explained these findings to Mike and his parents and recommended a specific action plan.

Key Factors:

  • Mike has a good memory for sport stats, but not in his school studies.
  • His parents are concerned that his athletic success is drawing too much attention away from his education.

KSA helped Mike and his parents by:

  • Diagnosing Mike’s rote memory issue.
  • Arranging for a tutor who could help him learn strategies to improve his memory.
  • Participating in a meeting at school and arranging for Mike to receive the course syllabus in advance; teaching him to “preview” upcoming information to help put it in context.

Mike and his tutor have continued working together. Additionally, Mike has learned to generalize his new skills and strategies to help him in other academic areas as well!