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The Written Word

So here's a question.

Say there's a college course, and an assigned text to go with the course.  In class, everyone is expected to have read the text and come to class ready to discuss what they have read.  And this is how the class progresses.  Each day the class meets, the instructor leads the class into some sort of discussion about the topics covered by the text.  95% of the class time, it is the students that are talking.

What should the students study for the exam?

Should they have taken notes during discussion?  Can they get by with just reading the text and never coming to class?

Please discuss.