How to Study for Your Psychology Classes

College students studying psychology.
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Studying psychology is different than studying for other college classes such as math and history. You can still use your tried-and-true study strategies, there are also some techniques you can try that are more specific to helping you succeed in your psychology class.

Make the Most of the Class Lectures

Students sometimes use class time as an opportunity to daydream or nap, but not paying attention in lectures can be perilous to your grade. Even if you feel you get by without going to lectures, ask yourself if you're really getting the most out of your education by doing so.

The information you learn in lectures will serve as the basis for more advanced classes. Building a solid understanding now is vital to your success in school.

Active listening is a learning strategy that involves focusing on what the speaker is saying, paying attention to nonverbal signals, and asking questions.

To get the most out of your lectures, always read the assigned chapters before class. As you read, make note of the questions you may have. If your questions remain unresolved when the lecture is over, ask your instructor for clarification.

Take Good Psychology Notes

Whether in a traditional classroom setting or in an online course, no matter how your class is structured, you should always take high-quality psychology notes.

The simple act of writing things down helps cement the information in your memory, but it also has the advantage of giving you something to refer back to.

In addition to having good note-taking skills, you should also spend some time every week reviewing your class notes.

Spend 10 to 15 minutes before class reading through the previous day's notes, then spend another 10 to 15 minutes after class reviewing the notes you've just taken.

These brief study and review sessions will help you retain information better because it periodically refreshes the material in your memory.

Teach the Information to a Classmate

One of the best ways to learn is to teach! You need to have a good understanding of a concept to effectively relay it to someone else. Try pairing up with another student to practice explaining psychological theories to each other.

Explaining a complex theory or recalling important people or events in the history of psychology to someone else gives you the opportunity to relate information in your own words. When it's your partner's turn to teach, you'll get a new perspective on the information when you hear how they explain it.

Consider forming a study group with your fellow classmates. Each week, assign a certain topic or section to each member of the group. When you get together, take turns teaching about each of the concepts, reviewing the material, and discussing any questions that come up.

Compare and Contrast Theories and Concepts

Studying psychology involves more than just reading and memorizing facts. It's important that you feel comfortable comparing and contrasting theories as well as think about how these concepts relate to real life.

As you learn about different topics in psychology, compare the new material to what you have previously learned.

For example, create a chart outlining the differences between the branches of psychology or exploring similarities between personality theories.

Finally, by relating the information you learn to real examples in your own life, you will find that it is much easier to understand and remember come test time.

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