Preparing for class

This page offers help and advice on how to work constructively and experimentally on your approach to preparing for university teaching. It includes individual exercises as well as references to sites that work in-depth with study techniques to prepare for class.

We recommend that you read the sections in order, but you are of course also welcome to choose the specific section that is most relevant for you.

Preparing well for class - how?

At the Student Counsellors' Office, we often meet students who find it challenging to create good study habits in connection with teaching.

Questions we are often asked are:

  • How do I make sure I am equipped for class?
  • How can I best prepare myself?
  • Should I read everything in the syllabus or should I be selective? How should I select what to read?
  • How do I know what is most important to prepare for class?

These questions do not only only arise at the beginning but also throughout the students’ degree programme. There is no one correct way to prepare for university teaching. It often depends on the nature of the course and who you are as a person. It is therefore important that you continually ask yourself: “What would strengthen my learning process?” and then organise your preparation with this in mind.

How do I learn best? the key question when it comes to preparing for class.

You often know that it makes sense to prepare for class, but it is perhaps not so often you ask yourself the question: How do I learn best? Asking yourself this question can act as a good starting point for discovering how you should go about preparing for class in the best possible way.

Below are some questions that can help you structure the way you prepare for class. The first step is to identify why you wish to optimise your preparation.

  • When does your preparation seem to work?
  • When does your preparation not seem to work?
  • What do you think is the most challenging part of preparing for class?
  • What is expected of you in the individual lessons – do you know? How do you find out?

At the Student Counsellors’ Office, we find that students differ greatly in their approach to preparing for class. By answering the questions above, you may find that good preparation is individual.

"You are at university for you. That is a very, very important thing to remember; that you have to plan for your best possible learning. I can't tell you what the best strategy for learning is - it depends on the student. You have to work to understand yourself and find out which process enables you to learn best", Jakob Sherson, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics.

Optimise your preparation

It is important to remember that everyone studies in different ways and that there is no one correct way to prepare for class.

In order to optimise your preparation and know where you need to take action, it could be a good idea to look at the questions below and enhance your current approach to preparation.

  • When you think back on your student life until now, what habits did/do you have in connection with preparing for class?
  • What do you actively do yourself in order to get the most out of your classes?
  • How do you study best?
  •  What do you think is important in order to prepare for class?
  • When do you feel you get most out of your preparation and lessons?
  • How do you learn best?

Often, just making small adjustments to our everyday lives can help to create new and good habits.

Where should I make a special effort?

To identify where you could make a special effort, try answering the questions below. The different areas can help you gain an insight into what you find challenging when preparing for your classes. Sometimes it is not a case of “just” reading everything in the syllabus and making notes on what you have read.

  • Planning/time management – How do you structure your preparation? What does your upcoming study day look like?
  • Reading technique – Which reading techniques do you primarily use?
  • Note-taking technique – Which note-taking techniques work best for you?
  • Motivation – What is your motivation for this degree programme? For this specific course?
  • Resources – Who can help you with your preparation for class (study group, friend, partner, family, counsellor etc.)?

What can I do?

In order to prepare for your classes as concretely as possible, it is a good idea to ask yourself the following questions before you begin.

  • What is the objective of this course in this semester? (My objective)
  • What is in the teaching plan? (Expectations)
  • What is the main subject? (Contents)
  • What do I know about the main subject? (Contents)
  • What texts do I have to read in order to prepare for course? (Contents)
  • How will I read the texts? (Reading strategy)
  • Should I write notes and how? (Note-taking technique)

These questions clearly indicate that, as a student, you have different techniques you can apply in your preparation and that it would be advantageous to reflect on how you would like to study.

General advice

You can find good advice, inspiration and tools to prepare for university teaching on Studypedia.