Some of the lectures you attend at university may be very challenging and you will need to work hard to understand them.
Here are a few tips to help you.
Check it out.
Ideally, look over your next lecture on ELE to identify its key topics.
Identify the purpose of the lecture and its learning objectives.
Get a basic outline of the topic from core textbooks.
Get brushed up.
Consolidate any prior learning that you will need for this lecture.
Check any vocabulary that you don’t recognise/understand.
Listen to the objectives at the start so you know what you’re supposed to be
taking from this lecture.
Process the
main points.
Take note of signposting and of which points are emphasised or re-iterated.
Highlight key points to provide a summary at a glance.
Draw a line under the slide each time the lecturer starts a new theme within
the topic so it’s divided into manageable chunks.
Don’t worry if you can’t write everything down as the lecturer is speaking.
Compare notes with friends in the gap between lectures.
Get down what
you can.
If a lecturer is speaking quickly about an important point, it’s sometimes best to
just listen and take it in, then make brief notes on it after the lecture rather than
trying to write everything down and miss the key concept.
If you don’t understand something, don’t worry, just *star* it and look it up or
ask the lecturer or a friend afterwards.
Stay alert.
Check to see if the lecturer has already written what he’s saying on the slide,
otherwise you waste time and attention on writing what is already available.
If your
concentration is
Don’t give in. Make sure you pay special attention to the slides which need
labelling or charts that need filling in.
Learn how
your lecturer
Adapt your learning to the teaching. eg. if the lecturer uses lots of diagrams,
bring coloured pens.
Have an active
Keep checking your understanding as you go along.
Use a notetaking
technique which
suits you.
Summarise, draw pictures, think of analogies, make tables, use colours, use
arrows, use bullet points. The lecture slides are generic for everyone, so
personalise yours in the way which makes most sense to you.
“Try to preread for your
lectures, but
don’t get
het up on it,
they’ll teach
you what you
need to know”
has their
own way
of working.
Make sure
you know
what suits
you best”
“I find that
taking notes
distracts you
from actually
Try to keep a
Mark and come back to anything you’re confused about.
Student Engagement and Skills Hub
31/07/2014 09:58:05
If available, listen to the lecture again on ELE if you feel you missed anything.
Go over it.
Go over your lectures straight away. It seems like a bore but you’ll be so
grateful when it comes to revision.
“Keep on top
of lectures, it
makes exams
so much less
Give yourself an hour to work on a lecture. Reward yourself after.
Rewrite your notes in an order that makes sense to you; slides aren’t always in
the most intuitive sequence.
Break the lecture down into its component parts.
If you write your notes out in full, re-write them more briefly each time, just
summarising the key points so you can flick through them in the days before
an exam.
Write out notes.
Make flashcards – get an app for it! eg. ‘Brainscape’.
Make tables to concisely summarise material. This also helps to develop and
link themes as you fit different things into appropriate columns.
Print off the slides for anything which needs rote learning - there’s no point
wasting time writing it up.
Write yourself test questions that you’d like to be able to answer by the time
you come to the exam. You could stick post-it notes with these questions over
each slide to test yourself, then peel them off to reveal the answers.
Make your notes
Write your notes in your own words, think of how you would explain the
information in a conversation. The more basic the better; if you understand
the basics you will remember the details more easily.
Would you understand your notes if you looked at them in a week’s time?
Check for
is everything.
Imagine revising from your notes – have you covered all the objectives?
Look at past exam papers to see if your notes are good enough to answer the
questions. What more do you need to know?
If you don’t understand a topic, add to it with information from textbooks
and websites, start with the basics eg. Wikipedia and work your way up eg.
Try watching videos on something you don’t understand. It’s quite often easier
to understand speech and demonstrations than text.
that if you’re
everyone else
is too. Don’t
be afraid to
talk to the
they’re there
to help”
“A degree isn’t
a competition,
you could
all help each
other out
and all still
get firsts!
notes, ideas,
revision tips
between you”
Compare your notes with a friend’s and try explaining concepts to each other.
You might uncover something you missed or didn’t understand
Work together.
Have a conversation about something you found interesting - you’ll remember
it better.
Delegate tasks amongst friends and then collate all the information to save
time and increase productivity.
Have you seen the
other Guides in
this series?
Think of analogies to help you remember abstract concepts. Your brain will
find it easier to remember something it’s come across before!
How to…
Draw diagrams and pictures, create images in your head.
Be creative.
Come up with acronyms, mnemonics and ‘sounds like’ for, eg. drugs names or
author’s names, the sillier the better – the more you’ll remember them!
Memorise whilst on the move; link the words to your actions - it sounds crazy
but it works.
Keep it safe.
Ensure you have a good storage system for all notes, whether electronic or
Manage your time
Read effectively
Write essays & reports
Reference & avoid
Manage exams
Give presentations
Manage groupwork
For further information, please go to ELE -> ‘Student Resources’ -> ‘Undergraduate Skills’.
Student Engagement and Skills Hub
31/07/2014 09:58:05