It’s four weeks into the semester, and chances are you’re already swamped in extracurriculars, problem sets, upcoming midterms and a stack of endless readings. You have a discussion section coming up this week, and you’re definitely not about to sit down and read those dreaded 200+ pages. So, how are you going to get through your discussion section and say something that will sweep your GSI off their feet? You’re going to BS your way through it, that’s what you’re going to do. But how? We at the Clog are here to tell you (disclaimer — take these suggestions at your own discretion. If you use these tips and end up with a poor grade, don’t hold us responsible).
Since you probably have no clue what’s going on, what better to do than speak up and ask your classmates and GSI what actually is going on? You might look a little dumb, but to avoid this, articulate your question using prim-and-proper wording, or maybe even consider asking your question in a British accent so you can sound just that much fancier.
Bring up a current event from the news
Current events can almost always somehow relate back to what’s going on in any class, so during your section talk about something you read in the news (or maybe just talk about the Milo Yiannopoulos protests from last week). Explain the current event in extreme detail, then let your classmates do the real work. Your work here is done.
Talk about your feelings
If you haven’t done the readings, use your discussion section as an opportunity to vent about how stressed you are about all the schoolwork you haven’t done yet (maybe leave out how you haven’t done the readings for this particular section). Let your GSI be your therapist and you the patient. Your classmates may be a little alarmed, but in the end, it’s you that benefits the most (maybe not your grade though).
Agree with someone’s point, then re-explain their argument using different words
In order to prove to your GSI that you’re at least sort of paying attention, jump in after one of your classmates speak and say that you agree with them (even if you don’t necessarily agree). Then, restate their point using different (or perhaps fancier) words to show your GSI how smart you are without ever reading at all.
Nod a lot and write everything down
Make it look like you’re engaged in the discussion by nodding your head after every sentence spoken by your classmates or GSI. Once your neck starts to cramp, switch gears and act as your section’s scribe by furiously writing down each syllable your classmates utter. That way, when you’re not vigorously shaking your head in agreement, your GSI will assume you’re totally paying attention and absorbing all of that information.
Spend your entire discussion section fake-coughing instead of speaking. You might draw a little more attention to yourself than you were hoping, but maybe your GSI will think that you’re so sick that they will ask you to go home and get some rest. Hey, once you get back to bed, maybe you can catch up on those readings, right?
Write a note to your GSI saying you lost your voice
We actually haven’t all been there, but from time to time, people get sick and lose their voices. If you aren’t planning on doing the readings for the week and know you won’t be prepared to say anything that will boost your participation grade, write a note to your GSI explaining that you’re sick with laryngitis and you’ve lost your voice. Or, if you’re planning on not reading for the rest of the semester, include in your note to your GSI that you had to have your larynx completely removed.