How to Effectively Ask Questions in Class
Follow these guidelines to reduce your nerves of asking questions in a classroom.
Speaking up in a classroom full of students is not always an easy task, especially if you’re nervous. There’s a lot to think about, like how can you tell if a question should be asked during or after class? When should you ask your question?
Here are some tips for how to ask the most effective questions at the right time.
What’s the point of asking questions?
Asking questions can be beneficial for you even if you already understand the content. Asking questions can help:
- Boost your participation
- Gain knowledge and prevent confusion
- Show that you are engaging with the material
- Help the teacher understand what students need clarification on
- Build relationships with teachers (useful for reference letters!)
- Begin a larger discussion
- Guide discussion
- Influence/alter someone else’s opinion
Asking questions in class
Whether you’re in a small classroom or a giant lecture hall, asking questions can be intimidating.
1. Timing is important
When you first join a class, teachers typically tell you how they like to structure their classes. They may ask that all questions be asked at the end or during specific points in their class. But sometimes they don’t specify exactly when you should ask questions. If they don’t, then simply wait for a pause in the lesson before asking.
2. How to properly signal you have a question
Raise your hand unless your teacher tells you a different way to get their attention. Once your hand is up, keep it up, but don’t wave it around. This is the politest way to get your teacher’s attention. Be patient – sometimes in a crowded lecture hall teachers may not notice you at first, but they will get to you eventually.
3. Don’t be nervous
In a classroom, chances are if you have a question, at least one other person in the room is thinking the same thing. You’ll be helping those who are too scared to speak up and they’ll be relieved someone took the initiative to ask.
Asking questions after class
Sometimes your question may not get answered during class time because the teacher is busy presenting. After class is the best time to have these questions answered.
1. Write down your questions
Questions can be easy to forget after you’ve just sat through an entire class. Write down your questions so you don’t forget and can get them all answered at once.
2. Be brief
You may not be the only student wanting to ask the teacher questions after class. Try to be brief so that you don’t take too much time away from your other classmates.
What to consider before asking a question
You’ve heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as a wrong answer,” but does that apply for questions too? Well, yes and no. There are a few things you should think about before asking your question.
- Is your question relevant to the lecture content? If not, this might be a good question to ask after class, so you don’t interrupt your teacher and classmates.
- Is the information easily accessible? Was the answer just mentioned earlier or do you know you can find it in your textbook? If the answer to these questions is yes, then this may be a question you should ask after class.
- Make sure your question is clear and concise. If your question is vague or lengthy and requires an extensive explanation, wait until after class to ask it.
Other ways to ask questions
Sometimes no matter how much you prepare, you’re still too nervous to ask questions in or after class. But don’t worry, there are still ways you can get your questions answered.
- Have your friend ask your questions. That way you don’t have to worry about your nerves, and you’ll still get the answers.
- Email the teacher after class. This has the benefit of asking your question without being face-to-face, and your answer will be written down and able to be accessed later.
- Visit office hours. If you’re in university or college, this is the best way to get one-on-one help from your professor.
Remember, asking questions is an important part of your education. Try not to let nerves get in the way of your learning!
Check out these tips for overcoming your fear of speaking up