Wondering how you can get the most out of your lectures? Follow our quick tips.

students taking notes in a lecture

So, we’re now a few weeks into the term and students have been asking us how to ensure they get the most out of their lectures without spending hours refining their notes or worrying that they may have missed some vital information. Here’s some tips from your friendly Study Advice team:

1. Before the lecture

To get the most out of lectures you should prepare beforehand.

  • Do some pre reading – if you have been given some reading for the lecture, read it beforehand. You might also want to look at the outline of the lecture and get an overview of the topic from the web or a core textbook. If you have subject terminology to get your head around, putting together a glossary of terms will help you follow the lecture. The more knowledge you have when you attend the lecture, the more you will get out of it.
  • Check out the slides – you should be given access to the slides before the lecture. Do have a quick look through so you know what will be covered. You can use this in conjunction with your reading to identify any sections you particularly want to listen out for.
  • Prepare for your note taking – decide whether you want to take notes online or on paper. You should use the slides to help you. Either printing them off with 3 slides and notes on a page, or consider saving them in a folder, if you wish to take notes electronically.

During the lecture

In the lecture be prepared to listen and engage.

  • Have the slides ready for you to take notes on and be prepared to listen, actively engage and think. This will all help to develop your understanding.
  • Take a note of your thoughts. You don’t need to take notes of everything that is said – instead, add your thinking to the slides and examples that have helped your understanding. What questions have been raised? And what are your thoughts? Many lectures give the opportunity for you to ask these questions and they’ll also be useful for the seminars that follow.

After the lecture

Allocate time to do some thinking and filing

  • Review your notes. As soon as possible after the lecture, spend a bit of time thinking about what you learnt. Skim over your notes and fill in any gaps with the recommended reading.
  • Create a summary. You might want to create a summary note which you can attach (or file) alongside the lecture slides. You could use a spider diagram or something like the Cornell approach.
  • File away your notes -either using carefully labelled online folders or a lever arch file and dividers – so you can find them easily when you need them for assessments.

To find out more about making the most out of lectures and seminars, check out our guide and attend our weekly webinars, including on managing your reading and notetaking on 19th October.

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