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Psychology Study Tips

Study Tips for Psychology Students


Students sitting at table studying together.
Dougal Waters, Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Because psychology is such a diverse field, students may occasionally feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information on the subject. Students of psychology soon realize that the subject covers a huge range of material. An introductory course alone encompasses discussions of psychology's philosophical background, social statistics, biological influences, experimental methods, and much more. The diverse topics students might study include social behavior, personality, research methods, therapeutic techniques, and much more. Because psychology consists of such a broad range of topics, it is important to develop ways of effectively studying and mastering new theories and concepts.

Following a few simple study tips can help psychology students effectively learn new concepts and theories. With good study habits, students can achieve academic success in psychology. Learning effective study habits now is one of the best ways to minimize stress and frustration and will help in other courses as well.

1. Study Regularly

  • The Two Hour Rule: The general rule is that for every hour of time you spend in class, you should spend two hours of your own time studying the material.

  • Plan Your Study Time: The amount of time you need may vary, but you should set aside time each week for reviewing study materials. At the beginning of week, consider the material you need to cover and estimate how long you will need to complete your assignments, readings, and reviews.

  • Schedule Study Time: Ideally, you should schedule a specific block of time to devote to each subject. Even when you are busy, set aside short periods of time each day to concentrate on your class work.

2. Study Actively

  • Think Critically About the Material: Effective studying involves more than just reading the assigned text and skimming through your notes. You need to analyze and understand the material.

  • Take Notes: Read through your materials slowly and write down key points. Write down any questions you have about the materials that you can later discuss with your classmates or course instructor.

  • Test Your Understanding: Quiz yourself on the material you have just read. If you struggle with certain questions, make not of these areas for additional study.

  • Summarize the Main Points: Once you have studied the material, see if you can answer these questions: Can you identify the main concepts covered by the material? Can you think of your own examples of each theory, problem or concept?

3. Be Active in Class

  • Take Effective Class Notes: Your psychology class notes should be a summary of what you learned in class, not a transcription of everything your instructor or classmates discussed. Practice taking brief, effective notes that summarize the key points of what was said.

  • Go to Class Prepared: Read the assigned chapters before class. If you approach each class discussion with a good understanding of the material, you will be better able to participate in class discussions.

4. Study Alone Initially, Then In Groups

  • Individual Study: Your initial study sessions should take place alone. By doing this, you are better able to concentrate on the material.

  • Group Study: Once you have a good grasp on the material, utilize review sessions with classmates or study groups. These sessions are good way to refresh your knowledge of the material before a quiz or exam.

Final Thoughts

At the start of every new class, sit down and come up with a study plan that will lead to success in the course. A little planning now can save you from a lot of last-minute stress.

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