Although often underrated, class participation marks can often be a deciding factor when calculating your final grades. This is especially so for classes that have relatively easy finals/tests or those that rely heavily on group work. Whether you’re shy, a zombie or just plain lazy, here are a few tips that will help you score some easy participation marks.
Tip 1: It pays to know you
Each tutor has their own methods for allocating methods for class participation and it can be very useful to know how they do so. Normally their methods will be made clear to you during your first tutorial section but some tutors have the tendency to miss it out all together. If you keep an eye out however, you might be able to discover their style. Generally tutors fall into (but are not limited to) one of the three categories listed below:
1. The Name list Addict
These tutors are the kind that will ask you for your your name every time you contribute and then will proceed to check off your name. These kinds of tutors are my favourite because:
(a) The quality of your contribution doesn’t really matter
These type of tutors rarely refuse to give you your participation marks for the day if you’ve made some sort of contribution. This makes it relatively easy to score for class participation. I’ve personally my participation marks for the day by intentionally raising my hands a few seconds later then another student and saying, “Actually I was going to make the same point.”.
(b) Once is enough
These tutors will only “check off” your name once. No matter how many times you contribute, it’s the same. So say something once at the start off the class and sleep off the remainder – you’ve earned it.
(c) You know when you’ve contributed
On the odd chance you face the “name list addict tutor” who is picky about the quality of your contribution, at least you’ll know it’s safe to sleep after one of your contributions gets your name marked off.
2. The one that doesn’t give a damn
These tutors normally have classes that has an almost non existent class participation. Nothing much to say here except that you’re likely to be given class participation marks based on how well she knows your name so it helps to answer a few simple questions she asks once in awhile like, “Where did we stop last session?”. Here it all about her knowing you exist.
3. The Overly Passionate One
This is probably the worse kinds of tutors to have when your module has a class participation portion. These tutors usually give out marks for class participation at the end of each tutorial based one the quality of your contribution. Usually harder to fake your way through but I have a few cheats up my sleeves that should be able to get you through such classes quite easily (especially tip 4).
Now that you have successfully identified the marking style of your tutor, it’s time to use on of the tips below to help you maximise your class participation marks!
Tip 2: Read the last few readings first
With the exception of the overachievers, it is very likely that most of your fellow class mates never make it through all the readings. Make use of your time on the way to school, while having your smoke break or even during the start of the class itself to read through the last few readings assigned for that class. The idea here is to let let your fellow classmates compete among themselves at the start of the class and jump in when they start to fall silent. Plus it gives the impression that you actually read all your readings.
Tip 3: Answer the easy questions
Self-explanatory and admittedly a cheap way of getting your class participation marks. Though it does work with all kinds of tutors mentioned above. Especially in the case of the overly passionate tutor, such cheap participation might be the saving grace for you if you cannot quality contributions.
Tip 4: Pakat!
Pakat-ing (Malay for “to conspire” or to gang up against) is probably the best tip I’ve gotten. Used by some NUS business students, the idea is to come together and plan your contributions ahead of class. A fellow friend of your makes a pre-planned point and you and your other friends offer your pre-planned opinions, rebuttals etc. It’s beautiful really. The best method for classes that allocate class contribution marks based on the quality of your contribution.
Tip 5: The “Why you ALWAYS so slow?!” method
This is another favourite of mine. Especially when you’re reaching the end of a class session and you haven’t said anything. The idea here is simple. Keep a lookout for someone who raises his/her hand and raise yours just a few seconds after. The teacher will usually ask the other student to give his/her contribution before asking yours. This is when you just say, “Actually I had the same point.”. Plus points if you can add-on on the fly. Works for most of the tutors especially the name list addicts.
Tip 6: OCCASIONALLY asking questions after class/during breaks
This method normally only works for tutors who don’t really give a damn about class participation and give you marks based on how well they remember you at the end of the course. It may at times work with the overly passionate tutors as well. The idea here is just to make sure that your tutors know you exist without being irritating. Once they know your name, you’re safe enough.
Tip 7: Sitting near/away from the OVER ENTHUSIASTIC S.O.B.s
You know what I’m talking about. There’s always at least one guy in each class who contributes so much it becomes irritating. The idea here is to sit as far away from them as possible as your tutor is likely to look away from them to give others a chance thus increasing your likelihood of being asked “easy questions” or just contributing on your own.
Likewise, if you’re planning to avoid being “arrowed” by your tutor to contribute, it’s probably best to use these people as “shields”.