Lectures and note taking

The simple truth may hurt, but showing up to your lectures should be the beginning of your study. For pretty much everyone, pretty much without exception, for pretty much all of the time, going to every lecture is the way to go. Sometimes there will be a lecturer who is so unimaginably boring that it maybe your best bet is not class. And sometimes you may find a student who is so exceptionally self-motivated, and has a background in the health professions, so knows what to learn that not every lecture is in fact worthwhile. But it is hard to know unless you have been there, so we would recommend going. Don't just take a friend's advice who says not to attend class because they did not like them, go and see for yourself. If you have 5 lectures in a row from a lecturer whom you cannot stand, and have a friend who can take good notes, then missing the lecture might be a good idea as long as you use your time away from class studying (which most people do not).

We mean it when we say it... go to class.

What to look for in a lecture

Thank goodness for objective based learning. The lecturers actually have to put down on paper what they expect you to learn from a class, and teach around those principles. Some of them have not really cottoned on to the idea, and put down irrelevant stuff, but quite a few put down some useful points. These lecture objectives are a useful thing to base your learning around because they are simple, straight to the point and memorable. You should be able to walk away from a lecture and think about it - 'hmm, yeah, the three key points from that lecture were...' This is an excellent skill to try to foster in the early years of university study, and having a few key ideas is a great basis for you to build your other learning about.


Some people learn a fair bit by writing lots (and it forces you to pay attention), but many just take simple notes. Often they just add theses to the printed lecture slides (if the lecturer was good enough to upload them in time), and condensing ideas down so they are simple. Most people will not go through highly dense lecture notes which do not make a whole lot of sense, and especially in subjects where you have access to resources like our Human Body 1 & 2, you may find that taking shorter notes is a better call. If you have questions about the material, then ask yourself firstly 'how important is this? how does this fit in to the big picture?' and if you think it is a point worth pursuing, then read up about it.

  • Go to class. Really.
  • Take notes
  • Some people prefer brief notes - your style will depend on you, try a few methods
  • Look at the objectives, base your pre-reading and post-reading on those