SparkNotes Blog

11 Easy Ways to Seem Smarter in Class

Many of you reading this will scoff, because there’s absolutely no need for you to trick anyone into thinking you’re smart: you’re a genius—duh. But what if you can’t stand a particular class and you still want that A? Don’t think your teacher is immune to certain psychological mind games that will result in them rounding your grade up at the end of the term! If all else fails, consult this list of totally-not-at-all-wrong chicanery and subterfuge that will have your teacher saying, “Something tells me that kid is really going places!”

1. Sit in the front. Know who doesn’t get an A, ever? Someone the teacher hasn’t laid eyes on all semester because they’re obscured by the linebacker sitting in front of them.

2. Don’t nap. I know that linebacker comes in handy by shielding you completely so you can take a much needed rest. But sleeping in class just really detracts from the whole “bright-eyed lover of learning” image you’re trying to cultivate.

3. Pay attention. You don’t even have to talk. Just the act of giving your teacher undivided attention will trick them into thinking you’re interested in what they’re saying.

4. Ask questions. Not, “Can you repeat what you just said? I was checking the ‘gram.” Or, “What the Civil War?” Ask teachers to clarify what they’ve just said. And ask, “Can you be more specific?” This exudes confidence, which can be a pretty fair intelligence dupe.

5. Challenge them. Did your teacher just say that Hamlet’s a villain? A waffling, vengeful, immoral freak? Fie! Fie on that teacher! Stand your ground (when you have one), and you’ll be remembered for your passion.

6. Before class starts, read The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The New Republic, or The New Yorker, careful to hold the publication high enough in front of your face for full visibility. (Hey, it’s worth a shot.)

7. Scribble furiously while your teacher is talking. Bonus points if you’re actually taking notes.

8. Make an effort to improve your vocabulary. Make use of that “Word A Day” calendar your grandma got you for Christmas, sign up for daily emails from good ol’ Merriam-Webster, or just take this quiz!

9. Keep words like “um,” “like,” and “you know” in check. Actually, throw “actually” on that list, too.

10. Make eye contact. This kind of falls in line with the not napping, paying attention, and sitting up front stuff. But making eye contact is going the extra mile and upping your confidence game. When you ask a question in class, don’t stare at your desk. Be unafraid and therefore brilliant.

11. Use your middle initial on all homework and tests. JOHN F. KENNEDY. Enough said.

Did I miss any? Please share your crookery.