The following handout offers simple approach to preparing for lectures. It provides some helpful tidbits on what you should do before, during and after class.


Before Class

  • Read assignments and do problems BEFORE class, not after.
  • Review the syllabus to anticipate focus of lecture and learning objectives.
  • List questions you have prior to the lecture.

During Class

  • If it helps, sit near the front of the class to stay engaged.
  • If professor follows the syllabus when teaching, match your notes to objectives and questions from syllabus.
  • To handwrite notes or use a laptop – that is the question! Try both and chose the method where you can focus and learn, and where you produce useful notes.
  • List any questions you have that come up in lecture.
  • If you lose focus or feel lost during part of the lecture, indicate in your notes where this occurs with a symbol (such as a star or question mark). This will help you know where you need to follow-up and get help later.

After Class

  • Create a new set of notes that include key points from the reading. Start by listing main concepts from both lecture and reading, and then fill in supporting details. Underline important vocabulary and concepts. Look for and note relationships between ideas.
  • Summarize the lecture, either in writing or aloud. Quickly – no more than 5 minutes!
  • If you discover gaps in notes, fill them in by reviewing text, asking a peer or following up with the instructor.
  • If there are concepts you don’t understand, work with your instructor and/or a tutor.
  • Create both recall and higher-level thinking questions to test your knowledge. Add to these questions with each lecture and use them to quiz yourself before exams.

Remember: The sooner you begin, the better…


Need Additional Help?

The UNC Learning Center is a great resource! Both peer tutoring and academic coaching can help you work towards your goals. Peer tutors help you review and understand course content, and our academic coaches can help you:

  • Create an effective and realistic study plan
  • Decide how you want to use the strategies described in this handout
  • Stay on-track with your study plans

Download PDF: Getting the Most From Lectures S17

REMEMBER: The UNC Learning Center is a great resource! Both Peer Tutoring and Academic Coaching can help you create a balanced approach to succeeding at Carolina. Our friendly staff is ready to help – drop by or make an appointment!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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