How to Get the Most from Lectures

Know Your Body

If you are an early riser, an early lecture might be just right for you. However, if you struggle to get up when the alarm clock goes off and can’t function without caffeine, scheduling classes at 8:00 AM might not be wise. Try registering for classes later in the morning or during the afternoon. You’ll get more out of class if you are wide awake.

Come Prepared

  • Be sure to read all assigned materials before the lecture. Having a basic understanding of the material will make the lecture easier to follow.
  • Immediately before the lecture, skim through the chapter again.
  • Sit in the front of the room where there are fewer distractions.
  • Pay attention to cues, gestures, notes on the board, repetition, emphasis, and transitions. Make sure to write down ideas presented in these ways.
  • Ask yourself questions about the topic, and listen for answers from the lecturer.
  • Identify the speaker’s main points or arguments.

Be an Active Participant

  • Pay attention to cues, gestures, notes on the board, repetition, emphasis, and transitions. Make sure to write down ideas presented in these ways.
  • Ask yourself questions about the topic, and listen for answers from the lecturer.
  • Identify the speaker’s main points or arguments.

Follow Up

Research on memory and retention shows that we can forget 40-70% of what we learn in one hour and up to 80% within 24 hours. Here are some ways to avoid this:

  • After class, grab a cup of coffee with a classmate and discuss the lecture. This helps reinforce the information learned and clarifies confusing points.
  • Take a few minutes to outline the key points in your notes and fill in the gaps.
  • Review your outline and notes within 24 hours. Add additional comments in the margins if necessary.
From How to Be a Successful Student, Donald Martin, c 1988.
Study.com, May, 2016

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