Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Strategies when in lectures

Read more about useful strategies that can enhance your active lecture experience when studying at university.
© British Council

In previous Steps, you’ve heard about the importance of taking notes and of being an active participant during lectures. In order to get the most out of a lecture, you should also engage actively with the material before and after the actual class time.

Here’s a list of useful strategies that can enhance your active lecture experience. They’re not in any particular order.

Read the list carefully, choose the strategies that you think could be most helpful for you, and put them in the logical order that suits you best. Add any other strategies that you already use in your learning. Post your completed before and after lecture strategies list in the comments section below.


When reading, note down important terms or concepts along with their definitions. Review the glossary before the lecture and listen to see whether or how these ideas are included when you listen.

B: Write a list of your questions on the topic

What do you want to find out about this topic? What areas are you unclear about? Prepare questions that you hope the lecture can answer, and these questions can help guide your listening. If you don’t hear the answers during the lecture, you might be able to ask the lecturer afterwards.

C: Understand the role lectures play in your course

Find out if the lectures give an introduction to the topic and are followed by seminar or tutorial discussions, or if the lecture comes after the discussion. Does your lecturer expect students to ask questions during lectures? This information can often be found in the programme or course description.

D: Check the topic of the next lecture

Find out if the lecture continues a topic from the last lecture or is something new. How does it fit in with whole course and with other topics you have studied? It’s useful to make connections between ideas.

E: If you are attending a lecture in person, consider if you need to record it and how you will do so.

Decide if you want to have an audio or video recording as well as take notes. Does your university use lecture capture technology to record lectures and make them available online for student access? If not, do you have the right technology to record the lecture on your phone or laptop? Will you have the time to listen to the recording later? Don’t forget to ask the lecturer’s permission to make a recording.

F: Read background material for the lecture

The more you know about the topic, the better you can engage with the lecture itself. Doing background reading can provide a good introduction if a topic is new to you. You may be given recommended reading from a reading list or textbook, or you may have to find material on your own. Review your notes from the last lecture if the topic is related. Check if lecture slides are made available online before the lecture.


G: Re-write your lecture notes

Write up your notes so that they’re more complete, more organised, and more analytical. Include any additional information you have learned from discussions and readings on the topic. Make connections between ideas and draw conclusions. Use these notes for future revision and coursework assignments.

H: Discuss the lecture content

See if you understand the lecture topic well enough to discuss it in depth. Compare ideas with other students to check your knowledge and understanding of the topic – in class or informally. Try to explain ideas from the lecture to other students. Ask the lecturer if you still have questions.

I: Do further reading on the topic

Follow up your interests, ideas and questions by reading in more depth. Has your lecturer given you follow-up reading material and questions to guide you? If not, can you make your own questions?

J: Actively review your lecture notes

Read your notes carefully, highlight important points, and note any mistakes or gaps. If you have a lecture recording, listen/watch again to fill gaps. You can then add information or questions, and check your overall understanding.

Once you’ve posted your completed before and after list in the comment area, have a look at this PDF with our suggested order. Please note, that this is not the only way to order them and it might be possible to add other strategies to the list.

© British Council
This article is from the free online

Study UK: Prepare to Study and Live in the UK

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now