Studying Effectively
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Preparing for lab classes

Many of the preparation skills useful for attending laboratory or practical classes will be similar to those for attending your first lectures and seminars/tutorials. However, there some issues that are specific to labs.

  • Check with your course information to see if you are expected to do any preparatory work before the first class (e.g. look over your lecture notes on topic x)
  • Check the guidance that your school / course provides about the safety equipment (such as lab coats or safety spectacles) or equipment that you are expected to buy and bring to your first class (such as a dissecting kit or drawing pencils) 
  • Health and Safety procedures in laboratory and practical environments are strictly adhered to and you will not be allowed to participate in the class if you are not correctly dressed or prepared. For example, if you have long hair you will be expected to tie it back.
  • Turn up for your laboratory class in good time and be ready to work with a colleague or be assigned to a working group (this is common in laboratory classes)
  • Listen and take notes from any initial briefing given at the start of the class. The demonstrator or teacher for the session may well try to steer you away from common difficulties or give you advice on how best to tackle the experiment.
  • Plan ahead - read the schedule or protocol through before you start (ideally before you go to class) so you know what is required next and can be ready with equipment or materials when they are needed.

Hear from some students

Best way to approach a lab class

"What would be your top tips to a new student so that they maximise the learning they have?"

"The best way to approach a lab practical is, you've already got your laboratory book in advance..."



Coming to a lab class for the first time

"I think the first thing that strikes you when you work in a first year lab is the difference in people. Some people have a lot of experience in labs and some have none at all ..."



Working safely in labs

"Safety is obviously a huge issue for everybody involved in doing lab work. What are the main things students should be thinking about working safely during a lab?"

"I think the most important thing is ... if you're not sure what's going to happen when you mix 2 things together it's not a good idea to do it ..."

Preparing for a lab class
Preparing for a lab class

Further reading


Being organised

Studying at university

Reading and interpreting sources and data

Practical strategies

more from Academic Support study resources 

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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