The Lecture Class: What to Expect and How to Succeed in This Academic Staple

The Lecture Class: What to Expect and How to Succeed in This Academic Staple

No matter what university you attend, there is a good chance that you will be required to complete one or more lecture classes during your educational career. A lecture class is a course in which the lesson is typically delivered via a speech or presentation by the instructor. Unlike many other types of university classes, lectures typically involve limited audience participation.

There is no way of knowing what form an individual lecture will take, but you can usually expect to sit and listen to a presentation on a single subject for an allotted period of time. Some instructors may use visual aids like a slideshow, but others may prefer to stand in front of the class and talk.

Despite not involving much or any audience participation, these courses can be some of the most important classes you take during your academic career. Given that these courses tend to focus on the foundations of a subject, they can be a very valuable resource within the context of your studies. This means that you will want to pay close attention in a lecture course.

Tips for success

For many international students, the idea of a lecture class might be intimidating. For one thing, it is likely that the lecture will be delivered in a language other than their native language (i.e. English, if studying in the U.S.). It is also possible that the instructor may speak quickly, or could ask that any questions be held until the end. Individually, any one of these factors could make a lecture class challenging for international students, but together they can make it overwhelming.

Instead of struggling to keep up, consider trying the following tips in order to succeed in your next lecture course:

1. Avoid distractions

If you are trying to follow a lecture that is in your second language, the best thing you can do is remove any distractions from your reach. For example, if you do not need a cell phone or laptop for note-taking purposes, do not bring them with you. This will ensure that your focus stays on the speaker and on any notes you may be taking by hand.

2. Take notes

Although lectures can seem quite long, they are also full of useful information that can be of tremendous benefit to your studies. If you think you will be distracted by electronics, you can still take notes the old-fashioned way—with a pen and paper. Having said that, taking notes can be distracting if you are trying to focus on the content, so consider recording the lecture instead.

In some cases, the instructor might be recording the lecture for his or her own purposes, so be sure to ask in advance in order to save yourself some trouble. If not, it is always best to ask permission before recording someone.   

3. Sit in the front of the class

Trying to follow along in a second language can be challenging, but it can be even more difficult if you are not able to hear the speaker very well or cannot see the visual aids they use. To avoid this, sit in the front of the class, where you can focus your full attention on the instructor and not on things going on around you. This will ensure that you can hear very well and clearly see any visual materials. Moreover, sitting in the front will also give you the added benefit of being more memorable, should you want to follow up with the instructor or ask any questions.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.    

Show More

Download Study in the USA® Magazines