We all know the struggle: maybe you had a little too much fun this weekend, maybe Netflix was a little too tempting or maybe you’re simply drowning under the workload for all your other classes. But whatever the reason, the simple fact is that you have fallen behind on the reading. One can usually convince oneself that the reading doesn’t really matter. You’ve been going to lecture after all! But when discussion sections roll around, every student needs some surefire ways to get the points and bullshit their way to success.
1. It’s all in the details
Ok, assuming that you’ve been attending lecture, you should know something about the topic. Perhaps you remember a funny picture or a joke slipped into the PowerPoint. Chances are that there is some detail that stuck out to you. Latch onto that. Talk it to death. Analyze and re-analyze, and get other people’s opinions on your analysis. And then analyze that. You can keep this going for a surprising length of time.
2. Become agreeable
There will always be at least one person who’s done all the reading in your section. Likely, they’ll be the one showing everyone up and dominating the conversation. This person is your new best friend. You know what they say: great minds think alike! Utilize your mental thesaurus and rephrase their points. Synonyms are wonderful, great, fantastic, excellent things.
3. Become disagreeable
The foil to Mr./Ms. Know-It-All is the one kid who hasn’t done a single thing since they’ve joined the class and yet still continues to run their mouth. Exploit their weakness! Argue against them and question everything. Find the chinks in their argument’s armor. This will make you appear more intelligent while focusing your TA’s suspicions on another poor unfortunate soul.
4. It’s all about the body language
Appearances aren’t everything, yet it must be said that if you look like you know what’s going on, people will be more likely to believe that you actually do. Head nodding and maintaining eye contact with your TA shows that you are responsible, trustworthy and have absolutely been keeping up with your work.
5. Notes are your friend
Participation is more than just talking. By taking copious amounts of “notes”, you appear to be focused and attentive. Is it your fault that you want to retain every bit of information that can be gleaned from such stimulating conversation?
6. Flip through book
Everyone knows that the most studious bring their books to class. These note-ridden, dog-eared, sticky-noted tomes are the source of the Good Student’s power. Before class, scribble a few things in the margins and slap on some sticky-notes. Then, when discussion rolls around, flip through it intently. You are looking at all the research that you did before hand. You are prepared. You are avoiding eye contact without being suspicious.
7. Not-so-stupid questions
Another familiar face in the classroom is that one guy who asks the stupid questions. This can actually be a very useful tool. By either phrasing the question to sound intelligent (i.e. “How are goats symbolic of sinners in religious art circa 1400?” vs. “Why is there a goat in that picture with the bald dude in it?”) or by sounding genuinely confused, you can divert discussion for quite a while.
8. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Fake a sore throat. Get your strained voice in early with a raspy, whispered, pathetic sounding question. Apologize when you can’t raise your voice above a murmur, accentuate your performance with a few hacking coughs throughout class and enjoy everyone’s aversion to you!
If we’re being honest, most people don’t really want to discuss whatever topic it is that you’re in section for. By slyly turning the topic to something vaguely related, yet still interesting, you make everyone’s day a little brighter and the clock go a little faster.
10. If all else fails…
If all else fails and you need to make a speedy escape, all buildings are equipped with fire alarms.