The power of bullshit – how to seem knowledgeable in a seminar

You don’t have to have a silver tongue to bullshit like a pro.


One of the most overheard phrases in the library is, “I have soooo much reading to do.”

Allow me to give you my 6 top tips on utilising the power of bullshit to survive when you don’t even know the title of the primary text, let alone have looked at the secondary list.

Standard Law reading

1. Don’t bring your laptop.

Having a laptop in a class is a dangerous vice: far too obvious that you are looking stuff up and the lecturer knows that really all you’re spending your time doing is reading the nauseating statuses of your Facebook ‘friends’. When you run out of newsfeed there’s always the beautiful people on the Daily Mail scroll of shame.

A few scribbled notes  of key points and principles on paper is the way forward. (You may have previously found these on Wikipedia.) Follow this step and you become the bold member of that class relying purely on the knowledge you’ve acquired through your ‘reading’.


2. Buy a coffee.

A coffee allows you to have a sip and look busy at that difficult moment when the lecturer casts their eye around the class for their next victim. The bonus is it also perks you up, not to mention making enhancing your ability to nod and look knowledgeable (see below).


The Holy Grail for students


3. Nod and look knowledgeable.

Running your hands through your hair, looking at the table and generally seeming a tad glakit is not acceptable if you wish to get that 18. Even if the ongoings in class are far too hazy for you to actually follow, you can lull everyone into thinking you understand what that tutor is whining about by nodding and looking knowledgeable.


Not the look you want.


4. Do speak early

At school I had a formidable German teacher who’d ruthlessly target those who didn’t speak up – a tactic seemingly passed on to our university lecturers. Remember to speak early on and about an area of the seminar you understand the most – or at least misunderstand the least. Then you’ll appear knowledgeable enough to later on avoid, “Michael, could you discuss this article?”


5. Focus on a particular topic

Sounds simple, in that last hour before a seminar you believe you are endowed with superhuman powers to read faster and take better notes than you managed to do in the last week. Don’t even try. Focus in on a particular topic, exploit it and then your general knowledge on that topic should be enough.


6. Be inquisitive

You should avoid becoming the student asking moronic questions which the reading would have answered. Be careful not to become the person who asks too many questions though – it is a sign of not having a life outside of uni.


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