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3 Tips on How to Avoid Being Called on in Law School Class

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Despite how annoying it is, law profs across the country still use the Socratic method, often referred to as cold calling. Naturally, this means that law students across the country actively do their best to not get called on in class, or just over-prepare out of fear of being called on.

In some classes, professors will keep count to make sure they call on everyone fairly, while other profs will just look to see who isn't paying attention and call on them. After all, if students answer questions correctly, there'll be fewer teachable moments.

Sure, preparation is the key to success, but below, you'll find three tips to help you avoid being called on in class.

1. Skip Class

Admittedly, this is a bad idea, but it is the only sure fire way to guarantee you won't be called on. Even if you test well, and participation and attendance don't matter, it's still a bad idea. And consider yourself warned: If you skip class, you might get called out and on when you do show up.

2. Avoid Eye Contact, Appear Studious

Though some law profs need students to give wrong answers, playing the game of "I know the answer, so I'm going to stare directly at you, prof" when you don't actually know the answer is an invitation to disaster. It's like playing chicken with a semi-truck while riding a razor scooter. Sometimes even the prof searching for the wrong answer is going to call on the student who they think has the right answer just to move along to the next question or concept. Class time is limited, and profs can only bully students into learning for so many minutes before moving on.

Try to appear focused on class notes, or reviewing your text, or even looking at notes on the chalkboard. Don't be overly active, or writing or typing furiously when there's nothing going on. Basically, you just don't want to stand out.

3. Teach the Teacher a Lesson

Class time is precious, if you waste it by being that annoying student everyone wishes would just shut up, you might not be called on ever again (or be invited out to any social engagements). To do so, answer questions with personal anecdotes or stories you read that are only loosely related to the question. The facts of a case or holding should remind you of something that takes at least three to five minutes to bore the whole class and professor with. Make sure it ends with a question that will lead the professor on a tangent of at least another five minutes, preferably in a subject not being taught in the course.

If you do this a few times, teachers will be less likely to call on you as they don't want to waste class time, and when you do get called on, the questions will likely be of the leading variety requiring only a yes or no.

Protip: Teachers appreciate honesty. If you are not prepared, letting your prof know before class that you are not prepared for the day can sometimes be enough to avoid getting called on for that class. However, doing so will definitely put you in the hotseat for the next several class sessions.

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