Lectures

How To Get The Most out of a Lecture

Most of us know, far too well, just how easy it is to sit at the back of a lecture theatre, hungover and tired, and not take anything in. Scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, we can often forget just how useful a lecture can actually be. But, with a few tips you’ll soon be on your way to getting the most out of your lectures, and you might find that you actually enjoy them!

Prepare in advance – Often, many lecturers put their slides or handouts online in advance, giving you a great opportunity to prepare. At the very least, you’re likely to know what topic will be covered. Either way, doing a little bit of background research before your lecture will enable you to remain more focused, as you won’t be sat there thinking what on earth does this mean?!

If you’ve got a long day ahead of you, bring snacks – Keeping hydrated and having energy throughout the day is incredibly important for your concentration. Drink plenty of water, and take some healthy snacks with you so that your energy levels don’t drop. Plus, what’s worse than hearing your stomach rumble in a quiet lecture theatre?!

Sit in a good position – Studies show that sitting in the middle of a lecture theatre, at the front, can significantly increase how much information you take in. This way, you’ll be forced to pay attention as you’ll be right in the lecturer’s eye line!

Switch off your mobile phone (unless you’re using it to record…) – It’s so easy to be distracted by social media during a lecture. 20 minutes in and you’re starting to feel a bit bored, so you take a quick look on your Facebook. Half an hour later, the lecture’s over and you’ve achieved nothing. Switching your phone off will ensure that all of your concentration is focused in the right place.

Record your lecture – Recording a lecture can be really useful, as you can go back and add any information that you might have missed at a later date. However, it’s important not to rely on your recording – it’s so easy to turn up, press record, and do nothing for the hour. But, if you actually engage in the lecture at the time, and also record it to listen to later, you’re twice as likely to take the information in. Remember, some Universities do have rules against recording lectures, so you may need to ask before you do.

Make effective notes – Everyone takes notes in different ways, but it’s important to find a way that’s right for you and stick to it. Personally, I believe that using a laptop will increase your efficiency, as you can get information down quicker and also view any powerpoints or documents online as you write, meaning that you don’t miss anything. But don’t worry, next week I’ll be providing a guide to effective note-taking, where you can find out everything you need!

Ask Questions if you’re unsure – Asking a question in front of a room full of other students can be daunting, but it’s worth it. If you’re confused about something, just ask – the lecturer won’t mind, and everyone else is probably thinking it too. Or, you could always catch them at the end of the class. Either way, make sure you know exactly what’s going on!

Talk to others after the lecture – Talk to fellow students on your course once the lecture is over, and discuss any difficult topics, or bits you found particularly interesting. Not only will this refresh your memory about the subject, but you’re also likely to find out some interesting opinions that could really benefit your work!

How do you stay focused during a lecture? Leave your tips down below, and pass on your wisdom!

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13 thoughts on “How To Get The Most out of a Lecture

  1. Brilliant points. Many universities have the facility for lecturers to record their own lectures, so you may also ask if an official recording will be added to the module online afterwards. These usually capture slides and audio from the microphone so they can be really helpful.

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      1. Definitely, that’s the hardest thing with uni. Right now I’m in my final year and I’m 8 hours a week for lectures, but still feel as if I have no time. My problem in lectures as I don’t focus much if the lecturer just reads off the powerpoint slides, I’d rather them bring in additional information that’s not on the slides.

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      2. Yeah exactly, I feel the same! I’ve definitely been known to spend a lecture doing other work because I know the slides will be up later and I’m not benefiting from being there! I feel awful about it but there’s no point if they’re just repeating the slides! What is it you study?

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  2. You’ve made some really good points here! I unfortunately don’t get the slides/hand outs uploaded prior to the lecture at my university as they ‘feel it will effect the level of student’s that will attend’ but I always wish they did so I could see what the topics going to be etc beforehand. I always find it really useful to take a good amount of notes and sit closer to the front because I like to ask questions if I’m unsure of anything and I also agree it helps you to engage in the lecture more effectively. I’m interested in reading your note taking tips, it’s always good to see how somebody else does things :). Thanks for the post!

    Ellie Xx | make-it-up.co.uk

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    1. Thanks a lot! Ah that’s so annoying! You could possibly email your lecturer before and ask for a basic outline of what will be covered so you can have a look at some stuff online before? That’s really great that you like to ask questions, it can be quite daunting! Glad you seem to be doing well at uni, and thanks for the comment! X

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