wikiHow to Pay Attention in a Dull Class

Three Methods:PreparationPositioning YourselfParticipation

It's not always easy to pay attention in class, but it's always important if you want to pass. The good news is there are strategies you can try to get yourself on track. If you do the homework, think deeply about what you've learned, and participate more, you might just begin finding the class exciting instead of dull and boring.

Method 1

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    Do the homework and required reading. Going to class prepared will not only make you more likely to feel like you're a part of what's going on, it will empower you to be active in the discussion.
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    Anticipate ideas. Think about what you've learned so far and try to see where it's all leading. Building a mental road map of things to come will train you to pay attention to what's happening next.
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    Have questions ready. You may have questions from your notes or from the readings assigned before class. Write these down and make a point to ask them during class. You'll be more engaged because you're trying to get your questions answered.
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    Get enough sleep. If you're in a class that's not too exciting, being sleep-deprived won't help. Make sure you're sleeping well at night, and if need be, see if you can sneak in a power nap before class.
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    Eat well. Your diet has big impact on your ability to pay attention. Avoid eating junk food that will make you sluggish before class, and certainly avoid skipping food altogether. A good, healthy meal will help keep you alert and energized. The following things have proven to help keep people alert and focused:
    • Caffeine. However, be aware that this is short term and you can overdo it. Too much caffeine can leave you jittery and anxious.
    • Fish. There's a reason why it's called brain food. Fish like salmon are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are linked to multiple brain-enhancing benefits, including memory.
    • Nuts and dark chocolate. In moderation these tasty snacks are a good source of antioxidants, and the dark chocolate even provides a small amount of caffeine.
    • See more helpful food hints here

Method 2
Positioning Yourself

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    Sit up front. This is perhaps one of the most important steps and could have numerous benefits:
    • You will be forced to be on your best behavior.
    • You'll have a more direct link to the professor making it easier to make and maintain eye contact.
    • It will be easier to hear what is being said and being written on the board.
    • You'll be more comfortable asking questions without having to shout them out from the back of the class.
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    Practice good posture. You'll be surprised to learn how much your posture can change your attitude towards the class.
    • Avoid slouching or putting your head down. It's going to be hard to stay awake and focused if you're doing everything in your power to fall asleep.
    • Make sure to move around a little. You don't have to be a statue. Shifting your position from time to time will help your circulation and send more oxygen to your brain.
    • Lean forward to show interest. This will demonstrate to the professor that your engaged and paying attention, which in turn will make the professor feel more engaged and involved with you.
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    Avoid sitting next to distractions. Know which friends are study buddies and which ones are distractions.
    • If you're taking a class with a friend that doesn't want to learn, do what's best for you by not sitting next to them.
    • If you have a friend that cares as much as you do, then great! Having someone to bounce ideas off of after class can be invaluable. Compare notes, keep the discussion going after class, and study together.

Method 3

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    Ask questions. This is crucial, and is the most surefire way to show your professor that you're paying attention. And besides, you're there to learn. Make sure you get the most out of it.
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    Answer questions. Don't be shy. If you know the answer to a question, put your hand up. Remember:
    • It feels good to know the answer. You'll feel gratified and more empowered to raise your hand in the future.
    • It's okay if you don't answer the question correctly. Your professor will be happy you made the effort, and perhaps your response may shed some light on a topic that has not been explained properly.
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    Take quality notes. Diligent note taking not only trains you to pay strict attention to what's being said, but you'll thank yourself later when it comes time to study. Teachers will often write test questions based on class discussions and topics that may not be in the text books.
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    Ask for clarification. If you don't understand a topic or idea, raise your hand and ask for clarification. You may not be the only one who needs help. Also if the teacher makes a mistake don't be discouraged to correct her, raise your hand an do it.
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    Join the discussion. It's not always about asking questions. Sometimes a class can be about sharing ideas or debating. Becoming a part of the dialogue will help you synthesize the questions and ideas in your head, and may shed a light on the topic that you've never seen before.
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    Focus. Do the best you can to tune out the world around you and give your undivided attention to the class at hand.
    • If you brought a laptop, make sure to use it only to take notes.
    • Turn off your cellphone and put it away.
    • Don't worry about every little noise or voice outside the classroom.
    • Do not work on assignments for other classes. This is the first step in an endless cycle of not being properly prepared for multiple if not all of your classes.


  • Avoid personal discussions in class and don't pass notes to people.
  • Make a point to speak to the professor before or after class if you have questions or concerns that need to be addressed. Most college professors have office hours and you should take advantage of the opportunity to get some face time. Participation and effort can go a long way when it comes time for grading.
  • The more notes you take, the more the time will pass and the class will be over that much quicker!
  • Nodding your head when listening to the professor is a great way to show that you're paying attention and that you understand.
  • Do some research on the professors teaching the class you need to take. You may be able to find someone who fits more in line with your particular way learning.
  • Schedule classes at times you know you'll be more alert. If you know you can't keep your eyes open at a certain time, don't torture yourself by putting a dull class in that time slot.
  • Some people need something like silly putty to squish in class to help them focus. Discuss this with your parents or teacher(s). It may seem weird, but it really helps.
  • Keep Moving!

Although it's a bad idea to get up unless you need to, try tapping your foot on the ground, nodding your head, or tapping your legs when sitting.

  • If your class is at a time when it's hard to pay attention, see what the teacher's policy is on recording devices. Sometimes the best thing to do is record a lecture and listen to it later when you're more likely to focus. If they're not big on recording however, try to find a topic or subtopic that they're speaking of that interests you, and focus on that.. Or you can write down or make some notation of the main idea of their discussion, and do more research on it in your own way, allowing you to gain a better insight upon the topic.


  • Teachers hate nothing more than cell phones! Make them silent and invisible. Some professors may kick you out of the classroom for cell phone use.
  • Attendance is the key to all of this. If you don't go to class, then none of this matters and it's pretty much guaranteed that you will not pass.
  • If you aren't getting enough sleep, even an interesting class could become a chore.

Article Info

Categories: Class Distractions