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How to Pretend Read at School

Updated on September 25, 2013
The emptier the classroom, the less likely you will be able to get away with pretending to read in school.
The emptier the classroom, the less likely you will be able to get away with pretending to read in school. | Source

Do you pretend to read in the classroom?

How often do you pretend to read?

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A Note Before You Read

This article is intended for those in high school or below; not for college students. If you're in college and taking a course that requires you to read, pretending is not likely to get you a passing grade. Of course, I recommend actually doing the reading no matter what anyways, at any grade-level.

The classroom is probably the only place you will ever want to pretend to read. No use doing it at home or at the local library.
The classroom is probably the only place you will ever want to pretend to read. No use doing it at home or at the local library. | Source

Students Pretending to Read

Shame on you, student, for looking for advice on how to pretend to read in school when you should be nourishing your mind with the literary genius set before you by your teacher. As a reader and lover of books, I frown at your desires to feign interest in that which I enjoy, even now that I am out of the classroom. However, I get it. Not everyone can sit for more than ten or twenty minutes completely immersed in what they're reading and not be distracted by the fact that their best friend is sitting just two seats away, eagerly awaiting that bit of gossip that's just itching to escape from your tongue.

It may be surprising to learn just how difficult it is to successfully pull off pretending to read in school. Perhaps its some kind of special radar built into their brains or their ability to sniff out those eyes that are darting from left to right along each page from those that are just staring blankly and counting the seconds to their freedom, but teachers always seem to figure out those fakes from the real readers in the audience one way or another.

Here are a few pieces of advice from a professional reader on how to fake one of these seemingly simple tasks set forth by almost every teacher you will encounter.

Tips for Pretending to Read

1. Research Class Reading List

You may not be willing to put in the time everyday to get that reading done for class, but, the best way to avoid embarrassment when it comes to discussion time is to do a bit of research. Learning the basic summary and analysis of the book goes a long way when it comes to group discussions or individual questions. Of course, there's always the dreaded essay as well.

Here are a few facts to get straight before going to class the next day:

  1. Basic Summaries: Look up the basic summary of the book or the chapters that were assigned. This way, you at least know what happened and aren't lost next period.
  2. Main Conflict: What is the story all about? Figure out what the main conflict is so that you know where things are going.
  3. Character Descriptions: Learn who is who in the novel and their basic part in the story line.
  4. Literary Devices: Find out about major literary devices such as symbolism and allusions that are found within the novel, or portion(s) of the novel, that are assigned to you so that you are prepared to talk about them in class.
  5. Quotes: What are some important quotes within the novel that are essential to understanding certain literary devices?

Why Reading is Important

Actually reading the text for a class is essential for those seeking more than just a passing grade. If you really want to just pretend to read, don't expect to achieve good scores in the classroom.

Have you been caught?

Were you ever caught pretending to read in the classroom?

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There are many reasons why people are pretend reading in class instead of actually reading, but it still may not always be a good idea.
There are many reasons why people are pretend reading in class instead of actually reading, but it still may not always be a good idea. | Source

2. Use Your Resources

Of course, asking fellow students who already had that class/teacher will give you an even better understanding of just what to expect when you go to the class and have to pretend you did the reading. Find out what the basic requirements are and perhaps even get a summary of the book and its important parts.

3. Learn to Skim Read

Learning how to skim read becomes easier with practice. Once you become a real pro, this makes it easier to pretend to read for school because you know how to get essential information out of the text without actually reading it. Some of the things to keep in mind when skim reading include:

  • Read the first sentence of each paragraph
  • Skip any examples
  • Don't read complete sentences
  • Look at the titles, subtitles, pictures, diagrams, etc.
  • Read everything that is in bold or italic type

Some may argue that skim reading is still reading but it most definitely isn't. When you skim read, you are only picking out the bare necessities of the article or book without actually getting into the meat of what the author is trying to convey. Unless you are really good at skimming, you are only really likely to get enough out of the text to successfully pretend you actually read it.

4. Movie Adaptations are not the Same as the Book

Even if you aren't a part of the reading world, you should be familiar with that common scenario of walking out of certain movies and hearing: "the book was so much better." This is why just watching the movie is a horrible way to try and pretend you've read the book for class. Make sure that if you do decide to watch the film adaptation, you understand what major changes were made and how it differs from its original version.

If movies are more your thing than novels, perhaps watching a documentary would be better. Yes, documentaries are not always the most exciting form of entertainment but perhaps you will find them easier to understand than the novel themselves. In addition, it may give you insight into the novel that will be important for discussions in school.

Keep in mind that watching documentaries are more useful than just watching the movie version but are still nothing like actually reading the book. If you choose this option, be aware that you will have to combine it with one of the other ones listed above in order to effectively pretend to read a book for school.

Alternatives to Reading A Book

For some people out there, reading books are just not their thing. Listening to them, however, is a whole other story. Perhaps trying out audio books instead of just reading them will make it easier to keep up with your class reading list.

Funny Video About Students Who Don't Care About School (Warning: Some Profanity)

5. Act Your Heart Out

If you are only pretending to read just so you can survive S.S.R. (Silent Sustained Reading) or whatever other designated reading time you are assigned, just go on and use those acting skills to their highest potential. In this case, all you have to do is keep your eyes on the text and let them move back and forth on the page, flipping pages occasionally to prove that you are "reading" the text.

Avoid falling asleep or trying to write notes because these activities make it obvious that you are not reading. As long as the book is propped up and your eyes are moving, pretending to read in school should be a breeze, especially if you aren't expected to answer any questions about the text afterwards.

Have fun pretending to read that next book for school! Just remember that, in the end, it's easier to suck it up and just do what you're assigned than just pretend to. Therefore, my best advice is to just read that assigned text so that you can participate fully in the class and get more out of the time you spend there.

© 2012 Lisa


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    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      8 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Why would anyone want to fake reading? In my case, it was a free and easy escape from the ghetto!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      I like this article! When I taught in inner city, I had silent reading for both my middle and high school classes. The kids hated to read, but I gave them tips on "faking it" and pretending to read. If they didn't have the book open, look at it, and turn the page once and a while, they couldn't earn their points. What was funny, is after "faking it" a few times, they actually became interested in the book and started to really read the book. They were actually able to answer their written response questions after a bit. So, I'm all for pretending to read - it can lead to actually reading a book! This hub is very well presented!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      8 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I remember back in college in the early 60s taking a course in contemporary British literature. There were numerous novels assigned for reading, and if a student wasn't a good reader or a slow reader, it was almost impossible to keep up with the reading. For this reason, many students bought summaries of assigned books which appeared in such publications as "Cliff's Notes." I wasn't the fastest reader and also had a lot of math and science courses. Frankly speaking, at this point in my life, reading was more of a burden than a pleasure. Voted up and sharing.

    • FitnezzJim profile image


      8 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Reading is fundamental, but if you have to pretend, get really really good at step number 3.


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