New Psychology Study Guide

by Warren Davies
(Leeds, UK)

How do you study psychology?

What's the best way to go about it?

These are questions I asked myself during my first degree (I'm a postgrad now at UEL). Unfortunately the answers were not forthcoming from my study skills lectures. We had the same old cliched questionnaire about what type of learner you are (visual, auditory and I forget the other one), and, I'm not joking, even one lecture on what the buttons at the top of internet explorer do.

"This is the back button, it takes you to the page you looked at before the one you're looking at now."

Great, thanks for clearing that up. I wish this lecture had a back button!

I had messed up in the first half of the course and had to really pick up the pace in the second half. Surprisingly, most of the ideas I found actually came from psychology! I wonder why the field that has contributed the most to what we know about learning does not assimilate this information into its study skills syllabus!

Astute readers will probably have guessed that the psychology study guide mentioned in the title of this post is made up of these ideas I came across during my degree (and since). I practically made a hobby out of finding better and easier ways to study things, finding tips in all kinds of places, from critical thinking books, memory tricks used by magicians, to the latest research on productivity coming from organisational psychology.

My philosophy is that if you can break a task down into its constituent parts, then find out better and more efficient ways of doing each of these parts, you can improve your performance on the task overall. In my book I break studying for psychology down into:

Getting information in - finding relevant research, ignoring irrelevant material, research skills, speed reading techniques, and so on.

Keep information in - memory techniques which I found very effective, particularly for exams

Understanding information - critical thinking guidelines, lists of questions you can follow step-by-step to critically analyse research papers and theoretical arguments

Getting information out - tips for essay writing, how to show originality in essays, avoiding the 7 common essay writing mistakes, exam strategies, choosing your dissertation topic, writing lab reports; guides for all your written assessments, basically Productivity and organisation - how to get more done in less time, improve your focus on the task at hand, deal with procrastination, and improve your motivation.

I also include an overview of research methods and statistics in psychology, explained in plain English for a change. I know, I know, you hate it. But all of this is the foundations of the subject, getting a handle on this will make the whole course easier for you, and you'll leave with a better knowledge of psychology. Don't worry though, there are no equations or calculations to do, just a guide to the main types of test and what all those weird numbers in the results section actually mean.

I might be a little bit biased, but I think this book, called "How to Study Psychology" it's the best book of its kind. It's a guide to accelerated learning, critical thinking, and productivity all in one and there's not a mention of a back button anywhere in there.

If you want to find out more, head over to my site at where there are more details on what is in the book.

Best wishes,


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