How To: Survive Large Lecture Classes

By: Sheila Bhavsar

There are 26,373 undergraduate students that attend the University of Georgia–making large lecture classes with approximately 300 students quite common.

Large lecture classes are especially prominent in the premedical curriculum. These classes can be daunting for anyone–particularly first-year students, accustomed to high school classes with a maximum of 30 students. However, there are simple steps to take to increase the likelihood of success in a large lecture class.


Photo credit: smallestbones / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

First, students should strive to actually attend class. This may seem obvious but, students in large classes find it especially tempting to skip classes where a teacher seldom notices when someone is missing. You may think it is futile to attend class because you do not gain anything from it, but attending class is valuable. Professors may reveal critical information and material that can come up on exams. Furthermore, each professor’s style of teaching is different. By attending class, you will become aware the professor’s style and realize the types of questions he or she asks. In class discussion questions and concept reviews, are likely to appear on the exam. Hence, if you attend class, you will know how to study for exams more efficiently.

Secondly, be engaged in the lecture. Though you may not find the topic of lecture particularly interesting, you should attempt to remain focused throughout the lecture. Browsing social media sites can create huge distractions for yourself as well as others around you. Using your computer for purposes other than taking notes during class will not help you to pass exams. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions. Though it may seem scary, asking questions is critical to understanding an unclear concept. By asking questions you will help yourself and your peers to better understand what the professor is teaching.

Thirdly, utilize office hours. Professors anticipate giving students supplemental assistance during this time. Prepare for office hours by completing assignments or reading beforehand, and use this time to clarify any uncertainties. Reading or completing assignments before going to a professor’s office hours also prevents procrastination, since office hours are usually only once or twice a week. There is another added bonus to utilizing office hours, your professor will get to know you. This is advantageous, when asking for letters of recommendation for medical school, jobs and summer programs.

The last tip for success in large lecture classes–get to know students around you. Befriending fellow classmates can benefit you in countless ways. Fellow classmates can provide support if a class is stressing you out, and they can share ways that they may cope with their stress. Also, classmates can provide notes or materials given out in class if you have to miss class one day. Most importantly, forming small study groups with classmates is easier if you actually know your classmates. Study groups are helpful because you get the opportunity to learn concepts from different points-of-view.

Though it may take some adjustments and hard work, you can be successful in large lecture classes. Use these tips with study practices you know work for you, and you will survive any lecture class.