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5 Ways to Succeed in Your Psychology Classes

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tips for psychology students

Get off to a great start with these tips for psychology students.

David H. Lewis

Starting a new semester of school can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you get off to a great start and enjoy a successful school year. Fortunately, these steps don't have to be difficult or time consuming. By simply tweaking your existing habits, you can minimize back to school anxiety while improving your performance in all of your classes.

1. Start Preparing Early

Always be sure that you are fully prepared before any class, assignment, or exam. Create a simple plan of action to help you determine what you need to do in order to be ready. Using whatever organizational method works best for you, write down any assignment, paper, or exam due dates. Consider the necessary steps required to complete each task successfully, such as research, outlining, writing, and studying. Next, schedule these tasks into your organizational plan. By writing down these essential steps, you will be better able to keep track of the things you need to accomplish.

2. Find Ways to Combat Procrastination

Putting things off until the last minute can hurt your classroom performance, grades and learning. While it may be tempting to set aside tasks that seem dull or daunting, procrastination will only create more work for you down the road. Avoid last-minute stress and frustration by finding ways to fight the urge to procrastinate.

One solution is to try breaking assignments up into more manageable chunks. By tackling just a small portion of a task each day, you can successfully complete assignments on time.

3. Reevaluate Your Study Habits

As you begin a new semester, start by taking a serious look at how you learn and study for each class. While your current study habits may be effective, there are always new tips and tricks you can incorporate into your routine to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your study time.

The strategies you use to study may also vary depending on the demands of each class you are taking. For example, a statistics class may require more intensive rehearsal and memorization of problems and formulas, while a social psychology course might require more reading and group discussion.

Another important part of analyzing your study habits includes learning more about your unique learning style. Your learning style can help you discover which methods will help you learn best. For example, if you learn best by hearing information, consider downloading and listening to psychology podcasts. If you learn best by seeing and reading information, review your course readings, notes and psychology study guides.

4. Do the Required Readings Early

University instructors generally instruct students to read the assigned chapters before coming to class. Unfortunately, students often wait until the end of the given week to do the readings, or worse, try to read all the material just days before an exam.

Get the maximum benefit out of course lectures and discussions by always going to class prepared. Read the assigned chapters prior to attending your classes in order to introduce the concepts. During class, ask questions about material in the reading that wasn’t entirely clear. Participate in discussions in order to expand your understanding of the topic and develop richer connections to the information.

5. Learn How to Write Psychology Papers

The ability to write well and communicate effectively is important for success in psychology classes. From lab reports to critique papers, you will be expected to plan, research and write on a wide variety of topics. Many types of psychology papers follow a specific format, so learning this information now can make writing your papers easier down the road.

Writing papers for psychology courses is very similar to writing papers in other subjects. Like other types of writing, your psychology papers should be well-organized and clearly communicate your message to readers. Start by finding an interesting topic for your psychology paper, and then spend some time researching your topic using psychology journals found in your university library. While writing your paper, be sure to use proper APA format.

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