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ADHD Students: Tips for Staying Focused in Lectures


Staying focused in lectures can be particularly difficult as an ADHD student. On top of that, there are so many complicating factors that could impact your focus (or lack thereof) in class: distractions, your professor’s teaching style, your note-taking style, how much sleep you got last night, and so much more…

In order to survive a lecture, that is, in order to stay focused in lectures, it’s important to plan ahead – it’s not just about showing up and hoping for the best.

As a first step, consider your own blockers – what is it exactly that you struggle with during lectures? This will be the basis for creating potential strategies to help.

Once you know what you’re working with, consider 3 key areas to target: before, during, and after the lecture.

  • Before the lecture. There are a number of things you can do before class that may help engage your focus during class. For one, you can set up accommodation support, such as a note-taker or permission to record lectures.

Another thing to consider is that knowing what’s coming up in class can help improve focus and information retention. Some examples of how to take advantage of this:

      • Pre-teach the material on your own or with a tutor
      • Print out lecture notes and skim through them
      • Look ahead in your course outline
  • During the lecture. There are many practical and strategic ways that can help engage your focus and reduce distractions during class. Some examples:
    • Find an optimal seat position in class with minimal visual/auditory distractions
    • Turn the internet OFF
    • Take energy breaks
    • Write notes – just the act of writing will often engage your focus
  • After the lecture. If you’re still struggling to manage your focus in class, talk to your professor right away – don’t leave it until later. Some ways that professors can help: They can…
    • Clarify anything that you missed/didn’t understand
    • Provide more clear and specific direction about a topic/assignment
    • Agree to provide visual cues for key information
    • Set up/suggest additional support resources

Any other strategies that worked for you? Let us know!

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