Most Efficient Ways to Sit in Lectures

Lectures may not be the ideal way to learn information, as their one-size-fits-all approach doesn't actually work for all students. However, with a few tips and tricks, any student can tweak lectures to suit themselves perfectly.

1. Read Ahead of Time: Lectures are supposed to be the time where the prof highlights relevant material from the text, not a two-hour session to learn material. Instead, adopt this practice put in place by University of Maryland physics professor Joe Redish who gets his students to ask questions about things they didn't understand. This way, lectures will be a time when relevant points from the material are discussed and it won't be entirely new things to learn.

2. Time Them Well: If you're not a morning student, don't sign up for 9am lectures. And if you value your evenings, pack your lectures in during the day. Feeling alert makes a huge difference in being able to pay attention, and for poor students, can be the difference between a pass or fail.

3. Keep Engaged: Nobody's going to magically open a portal in your head and stuff information inside. Bring snacks, water, coffee - whatever helps keep you there. And once the lecture starts, jot down questions you would ask the prof or TA if it were only you in the classroom so you can identify points to go over later.

4. Write Notes that Work: For some students, this means scrawling down as much as they can, while others go minimalist and only write down words or phrases. If you don't know where on the spectrum you are, think of conversations with friends: do you share all the details all at once, or prefer to start with a general kernel and unearth the information from there?

5. Bag the Phone: You're paying anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars per lecture, so why pay to play Angry Birds and waste your money on class? If you go to lecture, focus your attention on it. It also becomes a bad habit that transfers to the workplace where constantly pulling out your phone could have more serious consequences.

6. Sleep: Try not to nod off during class, but instead make sure you're rested the night before. Sleeping well is one of the best things you can do for your body to ensure a sharp memory, focused attention, and ability to retain information.

7. Attend: You remember absolutely nothing of what you weren't there to see and hear, so head off to class. Not only are lectures are a crucial time to pick up information the prof's deemed important from the text, but you may also learn what will and won't be on the exam. Plus, the more the prof sees your face, the likelier it is you'll be cut a break when you most need it; skippers get little credibility for extensions and makeups.