How to Succeed in your Literature Class

Almost all college students need to take a literature class. You may love English, or you may hate it. Either way, there are a couple things you can do to get a good grade.

One of the first things you should do in a literature class is get the names and phone numbers or email addresses of a few students who sit near you. If you’re shy and afraid to talk to anyone, pretend to have forgotten a pencil or pen, and ask to borrow one. Remember, your classmates are probably nervous too. It’s the first day! Having contacts will really help you during the semester. If you miss a class you will be able to find out what you’ve missed. Also, if you are having problems with a reading assignment, you’ll be able to contact them for help. When it comes to writing papers, you can trade papers with fellow students to get their input.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to create a study group. Get together with a few classmates either a few days before class, or even a few hours before class. Discuss the assignments, and bring up anything that you didn’t understand. Chances are, if you had trouble reading something, so did somebody else. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! These are your fellow students.

Probably the most important thing to do is to read what is assigned. Picking up a copy of Cliffsnotes or Sparknotes isn’t the same thing. However, if you are having difficulty reading and understanding your assignment, whether it’s “Jane Eyre” or “The Iliad”, you should use the Cliffnotes/Sparknotes to assist you. While Cliffnotes/Sparknotes summarize and point out the most important parts of the story, sometimes it is the details that you will be questioned on-and you’ll only get those questions right if you read the book.

These are all ways to prepare for class. First of all- show up! Don’t miss classes! Once you get to class, try to sit up front. Even if you aren’t big on class participation, the teacher will see that you are serious about your work. Pay attention during class. If your teacher is a ‘lecturer’ (and many lit teachers are), try to take notes. Most likely, everything he says is what he wants you to write on your papers. If your teacher writes something on the board, make sure you write it down. It’s most likely something the teacher wants to stress, and therefore important. Be very careful to copy down assignments correctly. Miscopying the term paper question will hurt you later.

When writing your papers, consult only the story text, and your notes. Do not use the Internet. Teachers can tell when students have been using the web.Don’t even think about buying a paper online. Besides not usually answering the question you were given, it costs money, and you will be caught. Most schools have a zero plagiarism policy. You’ll be kicked out. It’s just as easy to write your own paper. Again, if you are having trouble, talk to your study group. Pool ideas. If you are still having difficulty, don’t be afraid to talk to your teacher to clarify things. Before you turn your paper in, make sure it is in the format the teacher asked for. Most schools use the MLA format (it can be found online), while others use ALA (which can also be found online). Margins, spacing, text size, and even whether to staple/paper clip can all play a part in your grade.

Follow these tips and you should do well in your literature class.