- Lectures vary – some are well-structured and clearly delivered, but every lecturer has their own style and you have to adapt.
- Listening skills – practise listening and thinking more, and writing less. Know yourself – if you’re tired, pre-occupied or stressed, it’s harder to concentrate.
- Adapt your listening and note-taking, avoid extra stress.
- Lectures improve with practice – think about what you do, try new approaches.
Before a lecture
- Identify purpose of notes: what are they for? How might you use them?
- Question and engage: What might the lecture cover? What do I know about this? What would I like to understand at the end of it?
- Plan: What helped last time? What shall I try today? What is this lecturer’s style? Will there be handouts? How shall I take notes?
During a lecture
- Listen: identify key areas, spot new topics, repetition, summing up points
- Watch: body language, emphasis of points, eye contact.
- Keep notes brief: use symbols, develop your own shorthand, note where to find information later.
- Think: questioning helps concentration – jot down queries, unclear points
- Pace yourself: Concentrate at start and finish – spot key points, don’t worry about detail.
After a lecture
- Process: look back over notes briefly, as soon as you can. Jot down extra points and add queries, or information to follow up.
- Follow-up reading: try to do at least one short extra bit of reading related to the lecture – and ask yourself how it links up to the topic.
- Talking helps: a quick chat with another student about the lecture can help you understand more than reading over your notes. Re-working notes, making a diagram, re-ordering: this helps understanding.
- File your notes somewhere helpful and clearly labelled!