How to Bluff Through A Class You Haven't Prepared For

Oh god, you haven’t, have you? Okay, don’t panic, we’ve got you covered – here’s an unfortunately quite experienced guide to getting through a seminar when you’ve *gulp* forgotten to do the reading material

Article by Dylan Tuck | 19 Sep 2019
  • Dog reading The Skinny

Read around the subject, quickly!

This can vary depending on the degree, but there is usually a quick-fire way to consume an awful lot of written waffle. If it’s a novel, poem or any other form of literature you’re reading, then SparkNotes and Shmoop are your best friends. If it’s an essay or paper, the abstract summary is yours. If you do any other course that requires you to actually read the entirety of the paper – I’m looking at you, sciences – then your best bet is to skippity-skip on down to the conclusion and hope the author has summed up their work conveniently enough for your brain to process it in a couple of reads.

Too late for that? Ask a pal what’s up

Having mates on your course is good for a number of reasons. Missed a class? Borrow their notes. Want company in a boring lecture? You got it. But most importantly, you have someone else to depend on if you inevitably make a mistake like, oh I don’t know, not doing your seminar reading. Find comfort in asking them if they’ve done the reading, which (of course) they will have done, and will proceed to tell you everything you’d missed. Unless they’re as neglectful as you, in which case they too haven’t done the reading, you pair of bad apples. 

Your friend hasn’t done it either? Panic stations – we’re going in

You’re out of time. Now you enter the intellectual warzone. This is where tactical thinking comes into play. As you walk into the room to seal your fate, think about the best spot to avoid direct eye contact with your tutor. Sit somewhere, either near the back, or, if you’re all dotted around one big ol’ table, head towards the far end on either side, just enough to be mostly out of sight.

Next, get that pen in hand and make sure you’re constantly, consistently and without stopping, writing. Write the date, the title, your name, your age if you have to, just make sure that you are always noting down what others – the good eggs who have completed the reading prior to this horrendous experience – are saying. Like, all of the time.  

What? They’re not saying anything either? In the most unlikely of scenarios, nobody in the entire room knows what they’re supposed to be saying. This is the absolute worst it can get, as one too many awkward silences can only lead to one thing…

The tutor directly asks you a question? Oh god, improvise!

Oh shit. Of all the days, of all the silent people here, your tutor had to ask you. Of course. Any tutor that does this is purely evil, and this is the baddest of bad moves in seminar etiquette – but there’s no time to be pissed now. 

Okay, think, whatever measly slithers of information you have sliding around your brain, now’s the time to use it. Here, you have to make a choice – confidence or guess-work. Confidence is best used in arts-based subjects, where a ‘what do you think this means?’ can be answered with any opinion as long as it’s backed with ballsiness. Guess-work is uncertain and better for fact-formed subjects, as you’re unsure of your answer: "I’m not sure, but I think…" is your golden ticket off this messy hell ride. 

Ding ding! Time’s up

You made it! Oh, thank Christ. That was a long hour. Now, get out and promise yourself you’ll absolutely, totally, 100% not forget about the reading for next week. No way. Nope…