Attending lectures: a guide for students

A lecturer delivering a lectureAttending lectures for the first time is an exciting prospect – it’s not only a place you’ll be learning, it’s also a place you’ll first meet the people on your course. Follow these five tips to make the best of your first and subsequent years in lectures:

Turn Up

Some Universities are harsher than others, but all expect you to attend lectures. Even if they’re posted online afterwards, still go, because you’re paying for the University experience and you miss a lot sat at home. If you miss the lecture you’ll probably miss the seminar, a habit hard to get out of. Aim for 100% attendance, even the Monday morning 9am lecture… lie to yourself that you can always go back home and have a sly nap later.

Arrive On Time

Unless you like the limelight it’s no fun walking in ten minutes late and having a hundred pairs of eyes suddenly fixed on you. Some lecturers will simply glare, but others may choose to chastise you, so it’s really not worth it. Some lecture halls are better than others too and arriving early means you can have a good seat with your mates at the front – or by the radiators in winter.

Make Notes

Although incredibly old fashioned – make notes. Even if you’re recording the lecture, you’ll find there’s always something else to do instead of transcribing once you’re back home. Even if you do, it’s not the best use of your time. Each lecturer’s style varies but, whether they’re simply lecturing, or using visual aids, you only need to capture the major themes or essence of what they’re talking about – don’t try to write down what they’re saying word for word: these words out of their context will soon become meaningless. Instead attempt to summarise what’s being said in your own words.

Use Technology Sparingly

Writing in a bookIt’s tempting to use technology as a brain substitute. I don’t really need to listen or make notes because I’m recording everything… Staying focused for an hour isn’t easy, especially if it’s your third lecture, but it’s a skill worth developing in your first year because, by your third, you will need to grasp points quickly – there isn’t much time to go back. Instead you might only record the lecture which provides the background to the essay you’ve chosen to write – even with four modules this is still four lectures to type up each semester.

Read the Reader

At your first lecture you’ll likely be given a reading list for your module. There are two important things to do which nobody will tell you: firstly, read the essay questions and choose a couple that most interest you, secondly, run to the library. If you choose the essay which is based on week 10’s lecture, and there’s only a couple of books available, they will be long gone by week 9. Get in there first to save the stress of not being able to source the right books when you need them.

Don’t forget to check your essays using, the UK’s most popular free plagiarism checker!

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