How to Prepare for a Tutorial for an Undergraduate Humanities Course

*This blog post was written pre-Covid.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

One of the most valuable aspects to tutorials and seminars is social development. By the end of your education, it is hoped that you will come away more confident and be able to discuss a range of ideas intelligently to a range of different people. However, a lot of people are shy when they first enter university. Be prepared to push yourself slightly out of your comfort zone by speaking at least once to try to break the ice. It will help you speak more and realise that it is not as painful as you imagined it to be.

  1. It is expected that you do the required reading, but doing at least one extra will help give you confidence as you will know at least something that someone else does not know in your class.
  2. If you are having trouble understanding one of the readings, summarise each paragraph in your own words what the author is trying to say. It may be time consuming, but it will help you understand the readings as well as help with recall.
  3. Read a review or look up a biography of the author if you are struggling to understand the required reading. This will help place the reading into a wider context and understand the main arguments of the author.
  4. Do not just come to tutorials with highlighted readings. Make notes of key answers to address questions if they are asked. This will help sum up the key points you were hoped to learn from the tutorial, but also help with quicker recall if the tutor asks you a question. Do not worry about knowing the exact answer. List a range of possible issues that the readings elicit.
  5. Come along with questions. If you are not given questions to discuss, make some up. Even if you are given questions to discuss, come prepared with questions of points you are unsure of and want to be covered in the session.
  6. Highlight areas that you have found interesting in the required readings. This is valuable if you do not have the answers to the questions, you at least have something valuable to contribute.