How to Avoid Getting Caught Off-Guard in Class

We’ve all experienced it at some point or another – you slip into a daydream and just stop paying attention when suddenly your teacher shouts your name and asks you to answer a question. A question that you have absolutely no clue how to answer. So, you shout out the first thing that comes to mind and the class gets a good laugh at your expense. I stumbled along a great method to get you out of this, well at least in AP Lit: Rapid Abstract.

Let’s say you’re analyzing something (because that is 99% of AP Lit and when you’re most likely to fall asleep), and your teacher catches you off-guard. Instead of panicking, look down at the thing you are analyzing, make some “uh…um…” noises as you do so. Whatever the first word is that pops out on the page, go with it. Start thinking of a plausible Abstract and stall for some time by making sure everyone knows exactly where you are (“So on Page X, at about the middle of the page, it says blah.”) Then, go with it. Confidently. Confidence is the key – if you seem to know exactly what you’re talking about, people assume you do.

Tips for Pulling This Off

Always make sure you are on the same page as the rest of the class.

Make sure you are conscious enough of the rest of the class to turn pages when you hear the tell-tale rustling noises. If you’re not on the same page, it’s a dead give-away that you aren’t paying attention.

Seriously, go with the first thing that you see on the page.

It can be as simple as the word “the.” I kid you not. Why did the author say “the chair” instead of “a chair”? Teachers love this kind of thing. And, of course, there is the amazingness that is symbolism. Come up with a plausible Fact and leap head-first into the abyss of the Abstract.

Just go with it.

I don’t care how crazy, dumb, or just plain ridiculous the Abstract you think of is. Just go with it. You don’t have time to think of another, better one. Just launch into how “deep and meaningful” the words are and how they provide “excellent insight into the work’s theme” and all that stuff.

Keep talking.

Rambling is actually key here. If you can just keep talking, you have a better chance of saying something profound than you do if you keep it short and sweet. I’m not the most eloquent speaker, but if I keep talking, eventually people will figure out what I’m trying to say. And when people figure out what you’re trying to say…

You totally meant that.

I mean, if you’re going on about how “the significance of the word reflects the author’s belief that man is innately evil” and then someone shouts out “Dude, like how a few pages before XYZ happened and it means the same thing?” You say YES. Always. You totally meant that. You’re so deep.

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Summer reading, while annoying and generally the bane of all students-enjoying-their-well-deserved-vacation’s existence, is still important. Not because the book will change your life, but because the first couple weeks of school (not counting the arbitrary getting-to-know-you first day) center around it. Make sure you know what your summer reading is, read it, and remember enough of it to get by.