How to Succeed in Your Literature Class

College student reading book at table
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Listening, reading, and being prepared for your class can make a dramatic difference in how you understand the books, poetry, and stories for your class. Here's how to succeed in your literature class from high school through college.

Be on Time

Even on the first day of class, you might miss out on important details (and homework assignments) if you're even 5 minutes late for class. In order to discourage tardiness, some teachers refuse to accept homework if you're not there when class starts. Also, literature teachers may ask you to take a short quiz, or write a response paper in the first few minutes of class--just to make sure that you did the required reading!

Buy the Books at the Beginning of the Term

Or, if the books are being provided, be sure you have the book when you need to start your reading. Don't wait until the last minute to start reading the book. Some literature students wait to buy some of their books until half-way through the semester/quarter. Imagine their frustration and panic when they find that there aren't any copies of the required book left on the shelf.

Be Prepared

Be sure you know what the reading assignment is for the day, and read the selection more than once. Also, read through the discussion questions before class.

Be Sure You Understand

If you've read through the assignment and the discussion questions, and you still don't understand what you've read, start thinking about why! If you're having difficulty with the terminology, look up any words you don't understand. If you can't concentrate on the assignment, read the selection out loud.

Ask Questions!

Remember: if you think the question is confusing, there are probably other students in your class who are wondering the same thing. Ask your teacher; ask your classmate, or ask for help from the Writing/Tutoring Center. If you have questions about assignments, tests, or other graded assignments, ask those questions right away! Don't wait until right before the essay is due or just as the tests are being passed out.

What You Need

Always make sure you come to class prepared. Have a notebook or tablet to take notes, pens, a dictionary, and other critical resources with you at class and while you are doing work at home.