We’ve all had to take a course outside of our major to fulfill a University requirement. Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (PHI 200) fulfills a Humanities requirement at Stony Brook University, a requirement you need to graduate. Philosophy in general is not hard, and just requires some memorization and understanding of certain philosophical texts. It can seem difficult initially, but here are some tips that will easily get you a higher grade, especially if you have Professor Roy Ben-Shai.

1. Read the required text the night before the quiz

Usually cramming readings in the day before the quiz isn’t preferred, but in this case, it definitely is. The quizzes in the course will mostly just test on basic “did you read it or not” questions. The likelihood that you remember all the little details in the text if you read it the day before is way higher than if you read it a couple days ago. The text will be fresh in your memory, and you’ll be ready for the quiz.

2. Don’t take notes during class

Just don’t. It’s not really necessary. This class is mostly based on discussion rather than note-taking. Professor Ben-Shai posts his Powerpoints to Blackboard anyway so there’s no point in writing them all down. Instead of hastily writing down notes that will be available to you later, just listen to the conversation. The quizzes will also test on aspects covered during the discussion in class, so it’s more important to be focused and attentive in class.

3. Actually pay attention in class

This is not a class where you can just skip or snooze through and ask someone for the notes later on. The notes are going to be useless because they are just the basic guideline for the text. The class goes into much more detail discussing the text and what it means, and you will be tested on these discussions.  So that means that you actually have to come to class… just don’t bother taking notes. Listen and participate in the conversation and you’ll find yourself doing much better and maybe even liking philosophy.

4. Don’t be afraid to join in the class discussion

It can seem intimidating at first, but Professor Ben-Shai really wants everyone to talk and cares about what you have to say. Remember that it’s philosophy and you can’t really say anything wrong in this class. You never know, you might end up sparking a really interesting conversation. Also, Professor Ben-Shai gives a participation bonus to students that regularly participate, so if you’re not doing doing too well on the quizzes or tests, this could be your time to shine.

And there you go! With these tips, you’ll be acing philosophy in no time. And, maybe you’ll end up liking it too!


Mehar Bharatiya

Hi, I'm Mehar and I'm an Anthropology Major and Geology Minor at Stony Brook University! I like reading, writing, art, and cats. In my free time I like pondering philosophical quandaries, watching meme compilations, and engaging in political discourse!

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