Do’s and Don’ts of Getting the Most Out of Lectures

Lectures are an entirely different format of learning than what you will be used to in college/sixth form and, with upwards of 10 hours of lectures a week, you will want to make sure you are getting the most out of this contact time.

DON’T try writing down everything the lecturer says. Not only is this pretty much impossible and exhausting – it’s also pretty useless. Instead jot down key points of the lecture and make notes about any information you want to follow up in your own time that might have interested you. That way you will actually engage with the lecture.

DO use a notepad instead of a laptop. Now I know this is a very personal opinion, but I truly believe that the physical act of handwriting lecture notes allows you to absorb more as you go along. Of course, for some people, using a laptop is necessary but I recommend at least giving handwritten notes a go.

DON’T get into the habit of skipping lectures. University culture is fundamentally different from school in that you are very much given a great amount of autonomy in how you want to approach your education. Unfortunately, this also means that it is very easy to “get away” with skipping lectures and once you’ve missed a couple of 9am’s it becomes very difficult to get back into the routine.

DO use colour in your notes. Whether you’re using a laptop or a notepad, it’s always a good idea to use colour in your notes – you could highlight key words, for example. This will make it a lot easier to find topics when you have to look back over your notes from months ago during exam revision.

DON’T worry if you feel like the lecturer went over a topic too quickly or if you got distracted. The majority of lectures at Lancaster University are video recorded so you can watch them again when you get home and add to your notes.

DO sit closer to the front of the lecture theatre. It has been scientifically proven that those who sit in the front and middle rows of lecture halls are more likely to achieve higher grades.

DON’T be afraid to ask questions. Lecturers will usually pause during the session and allow the audience to ask questions – if you didn’t understand something, there is a very high likelihood that there are at least 20 other people feeling the same way!