How to get the most out of your lectures

Keeping on top of all your lectures and lecture notes can be tough. What about trying some of these tips?

Written by Siobhan O'Callaghan


Attend every lecture

There are a few inevitabilities of college life. A lecture is one of them and so it really is important to learn how to make the most of that one or two hour period. Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you is to actually attend all of your lectures. Yes, even the ones given by lecturers you don’t like on subjects you find tedious.
It is, of course, excusable to miss a couple during the course of the year, whether due to an illness (no, hangovers don’t count), the-God forbid-death of a loved one, a serious unforeseen disruption to your transportation or another unexpected happening which will genuinely prevent you from showing up. Overall, however, it’s really best not to develop a habit of missing them.

Endeavour to attend even when you know many of your peers won’t, RAG Week is a fine example as this is when some of the nastier lecturers will choose to give hints regarding what will appear in the upcoming summer examinations. Do see to it that you don’t party too hard on a night out, at least not to the extent that you don’t show your face in the lecture hall the following day.

Do your prep

If you know what will be covered in the coming lecture, then certainly consider doing a little reading up on that topic before attending. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask your lecturer who, in the majority of cases, will be happy to fill you in.

Be on time

Don't ever turn up late unless it's absolutely necessary. Aside from the fact that it's rude, you may also miss some of the lecturer's most important points as a result.

Sit at the front of the lecture hall

If you’re serious about your studies, always endeavour to sit up the front. Aside from the fact that it allows you to hear the lecturer well and see clearly the material with which you are being presented, you will be far less inclined to drift off to sleep at some point or to simply stop paying attention, given the lecturer will be able to see you perfectly from where he/she is standing on the platform.

Of course, sitting up the front will also ensure you won’t be distracted by fellow students attempting to start a chat with you, asking you to play noughts and crosses or showing you photos from their last night out on Facebook. 

Stay hydrated

Bring a bottle of water or a sports drink with you to each lecture and keep it atop your desk to sip at. This will keep you hydrated, thereby enabling you to maintain concentration and is particularly important from second year onwards when it’s likely your schedule will include lectures of a two-hour duration.

Record your lectures

Testing, testing! Recording a lecture using a Dictaphone is a wonderful way to get the absolute most from it. It is by no means an opportunity for you to doze off or chat to those around you once the ‘play’ button’s been pushed, rather it compliments the notes you’ve taken. Listen back to it ASAP, that evening, preferably, and use it to jot down anything you think you missed earlier. Don’t forget to save it and label it clearly in the respective computer file.

Rewrite your notes

Please, for the love of God, rewrite your notes. I ask this of you so that you may not fall victim to the same fate I did come April, when study month dawned and I found myself staring at a bulging file of lecture notes-written in short hand, barely legible, mixed up. It was a nightmare. Do this as soon as possible, again, that evening would be best, to keep your brain fresh regarding their contents and, once completed, file them safely away for revision purposes.

Use your laptop

Try to use your laptop in lectures. If you don’t currently have one then it would prove a fine investment, as some lecturers, in their enthusiasm for the subject on which they are lecturing, tend to forget that their students are only human with a hand that can only write so fast.

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