Getting the most from lectures and tutorials

Probably the most useful piece of advice for every student is the direction to go to all of your lectures, labs, and tutorials/seminars. This applies even if you feel that they are difficult, boring, or pointless. There is an abundance of evidence to show a very strong link between attendance and performance. As a student, you are expected to attend all lectures, and many lecturers will keep track of your attendance.

It might take you a few weeks to figure out your timetable. In the early weeks of each semester it can be very confusing trying to find out where your classes take place, which groups you are in, how and when to sign up for tutorials or seminars, and so on. You may find yourself in very large lectures with up to 300 students, and you might find that the lecture content is delivered at a faster pace than you are used to.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of lectures and tutorials:

  • If your lecturer makes your notes available on Blackboard in advance of lectures, get into the habit of reviewing them before you go to the lecture. This gives you an idea of what to expect and a chance to look up unfamiliar words and concepts, making you much more likely to benefit from the lecture.
  • Arrive in good time for lectures and tutorials. Lectures at NUI Galway start on the hour, and finish ten minutes before the hour. Missing the first few minutes can leave you feeling like you’re playing catch-up for the rest of the session. Sit where you can see and hear clearly and without too many distractions. Develop a note-taking technique that works for you – see our top tips for note-taking for advice on taking notes in lectures and seminars.
  • Lectures often act as an introduction to module content. It’s up to you to flesh them out by attending tutorials, labs, or seminars, and by further reading, research, and assignments – see the Reading and Research Skills and Assignments and Exams sections of the Academic Skills Hub. See also our guide to independent learning for tips on taking responsibility for your own learning.
  • Some lecturers employ a ‘flipped classroom’ approach, where you are expected to do your learning in advance, and then use class time for questions, discussion and debate, problem-solving and other in-class activities. Take a look at this All Aboard tutorial on the flipped classroom to find out more (you can learn more about the All Aboard initiative in the IT and Digital Skills section of the Academic Skills Hub).
  • Come prepared to your tutorials. This means completing any assigned reading or homework and bringing it along for discussion and review. Because tutorials comprise much smaller groups than lectures, they provide opportunities for analysis and discussion that don’t tend to happen in lectures. It's far easier to ask a question or ask the tutor to go over something again in a tutorial than in a lecture!


  • Goal-setting activity sheet

    Goal-setting activity sheet PDF (116 KB)

  • Tips for Note-Taking

    Tips for Note-Taking PDF (123 KB)

  • To-do list template

    To-do list template PDF (106 KB)

  • Guide to task analysis

    Guide to task analysis PDF (118 KB)

  • Weekly planner I

    Weekly planner I PDF (121 KB)

  • Weekly planner II

    Weekly planner II PDF (124 KB)

  • Weekly planner III

    Weekly planner III PDF (108 KB)

  • Addressing Procrastination

    Addressing Procrastination PDF (122KB)