Making the most out of lectures: a step by step guide

Lectures are one of those things that are inevitable at University. I have 6 a week and have had to get used to how to make the most out of them fairly quickly. 

Sometimes lectures can be frustrating for a few reasons, you can either feel like the lecturer is going to fast or worse, that what they are saying is irrelevant and boring. 

If you follow these steps before, during and after your lectures you will soon feel the benefit!

Step 1 – Prepare 

If you walk into your lecture with an idea of what’s going on you will feel so much more focused.

Most universities these days have some sort of online learning platform where the lecture slides will be available before the lecture. 

Some people like to print the PowerPoint slides off in advance of the lecture and make their notes on them. 

Personally I go through the slides and note down the important headings. Knowing what will be covered in the lecture saves any surprises!

Even just knowing the title of your lecture can help you ensure you are prepared.

You should also be prepared in other ways too!

  • Be on time
  • Bring water/coffee 
  • Make sure your laptop is charged or you have a pen and your notebook 
  • Do any work you’re asked to do in advance of the lecture 

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Step 2 – Focus

The most important thing I can tell you to do is put away your phone! 

We are all guilty of checking the time on our phone and then next thing you know you’ve missed half of the lecture scrolling through Instagram. 

Or checking our emails and then ending up scrolling through online shopping sites

The best thing to do is put your phone away and even turn your internet off if you can’t help yourself!

If you pay attention to the lecture you are likely to take in so much more information and make it worth your time going!

making the most out of your lectures

Step 3 – Take good notes!

First things first make sure you are taking notes! It would be an absolute waste of time going to a lecture without taking any notes at all.

But taking good notes? That’s most important 

What makes good notes?

You need clear headings to separate notes and make it easy to see where bits of information are for when you need to review them.

Also, you should make definitions and key facts obvious by highlighting them, writing them in a different colour or even just putting them in bold or italics.

Don’t worry about having your notes perfect in the lecture itself you can perfect them afterwards in step 5.

Step 4 – Listen

This is one that you would assume is a given but in addition to taking notes, you should be listening to what your lecturer is saying.

Quite often I see people in my lectures copying down the slides word for word and completely ignoring what the lecturer says

Often lecturers provide clarification of points or extra examples that might be really helpful

On another note, copying down the slides word for word is not going to help you remember anything. Where possible I like to try and put it into my own words so I can remember the points better.

making the most out of your lectures

Step 5 – Review

This is the absolute key to making the most out of lectures. 

After your lecture, you should go through and make sure you got all the important information down in a clear and concise way.

I like to add anything in that I might have thought of since or add some examples. This means that when I look back over the lecture I know what was going on.

If you handwrite your notes you might like to rewrite them so they are neat and colour coded etc. 

If you don’t review your notes you are much more likely to forget the information. The curve of forgetting suggests that you lose between 50% and 80% within 24 hours if you don’t review it. 

So review your notes and you will start to realise that the lecture information just becomes part of your knowledge! 

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And that is how to make the most out of your lectures! Comment below how you do it!

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