Study Tips for Online Psychology Degree Exams
Whether you haven’t yet begun your first online psychology classes or are already enrolled in a great program, you may be seeking the best ways to study for psych tests. Tried and true studying strategies based on your specific learning style and needs can make completing your online psychology degree easier than ever.
Before you can help others to know themselves, you need to know yourself! Before diving headfirst into a psychology class, think about how you work best in terms of:
- Time management: What does your typical day look like? How can you fit in adequate studying time? A lack of time is one of the largest causes of stress, and you need to manage it in order to study psychology successfully.
- Working independently: Do you ask yourself questions, or do you find you need a partner? Can you study from a textbook and come up with conclusions based on what you read with limited discussion? If you find that you need another person, you may find a family member or friend who can quiz you, or you can reach out to others in your class. If you work best independently, be sure you know where all of your class’ resources can be found.
- Work-life balance: Do you have children, a job, or pets? How will you make sure to prioritize studying in your list of responsibilities? Many find it helpful to create a daily schedule to help them stay on track.
- Space: Do you need an empty and quiet place to work, or do you prefer music or noise? Do you need a bare desk, or does clutter work better for you? Some students study in public places like coffee shops, while others prefer a quiet desk at home.
- Note-taking: Do you write your notes by hand or typing, or do you perhaps prefer recording them or even sketching out representations of ideas? How can you meet your needs in an online setting? A benefit to online learning is that you can often re-watch lectures, so it is easier than ever to double-check your notes.
Learning Styles and Studying
Next, you may want to consider your learning style. Online psychology degree students must study for psych tests and exams regularly, and the type of learner you are can inform your best study techniques.
Although learning style is a highly debated subject in psychology, some people strongly relate to one or two types of learning. Many find discovering and understanding their styles allows them to use their strengths while studying. For example, the following ideas have shown to help various learning styles to retain information:
- Visual learners usually work well when learning involves images. They may remember what they see better than what a lecturer says in class. Re-reading and re-writing notes after class, drawing even simple images to illustrate ideas, and tools like highlighters and outlines are often beneficial to visual learners while studying.
- Auditory learners generally best remember what they hear. Recording and re-listening to lectures often helps these learners study. They may also use tricks like talking out loud and creating rhymes, word associations, or even songs to remember facts.
- Reading/writing learners frequently study best using the written word, especially their notes, textbooks, and flashcards, to study for exams. Reading and re-reading is their preferred method.
- Kinesthetic learners often learn by doing or simply moving around while they study. They might take their notes to the gym, exercise while listening to an e-lecture, create flow charts for comprehension, or rewrite vital facts. Something as simple as standing while studying can make a huge difference.
With study skills that match your personality and learning style, you may enhance your time management skills, level of motivation, and self-discipline. Pay attention to what works best for you and try out different techniques to stay out of a study rut.
Use Your Resources
Psychology is a hugely diverse field, so it’s easy to see how students can feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and research available on the subject. There’s a wide range of material to cover as you earn your degree, but virtual learning doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Online psychology degrees come with tons of resources to help study for exams. Consider your most trusted sources:
- Professors: Never, ever be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it’s a sign of strength. Your professors are experts in their field and know what will be on the test. They are there to help you succeed, and your success helps them become better teachers too! Use their office hours. Many feel nervous when speaking to someone face-to-face or via phone or video, but this type of contact can be invaluable.
- Study groups/tutors: The people around you are some of the greatest resources you have at your disposal, even if you take classes online. Try organizing a study group with your classmates or seek out a psychology tutor if you need one-on-one help. These groups and tutors can often meet virtually. Ask questions you have and explain concepts you already understand, both of which are effective for challenging yourself.
- Libraries: Even if you take online courses, you can often use your school’s library to find helpful resources. Libraries are vital, allowing psych majors to find information on nearly every topic in psychology. If you live near campus, a visit to the building to ask the librarians for assistance is a great way to go. If you can’t make the trip, some universities offer online catalogs where students can access books, journals, newspapers, or other electronic resources. Your local public library could also be an excellent resource, as it may have, or be able to order, useful materials for you.
- Class books and resources: Assigned books and course resources are provided to students so they can easily find key information. Some psychology textbooks are paired with websites that have additional study tools, like flashcards, discussion boards, and practice exams. In addition to the assigned materials, copies of previous exams are sometimes available through professors or institutions. These can give you a sense of the test’s structure and insight into the questions that may appear—just be sure to obtain them ethically!
- Your own notes: Taking good notes, particularly by hand, should provide a strong and accurate study guide. When you review notes written in your voice, rather than someone else’s, you may create a stronger connection to the material. Read your notes a little each night to help you remember them, and make sure to write down the key points from every lecture.
- APA: The American Psychological Association (APA) website is full of handy resources for psych students. While you’re more likely to find yourself accessing the site when preparing for an assignment or project, the massive database of research may also benefit you when studying for exams.
General Study Tips
There are also general study tips from which every type of learner can benefit. You may feel you have heard all these before, but that doesn’t make the wisdom any less true. When your needs are met and you are not stressed, your brain can better retain information and function at the top of its capabilities. Before an exam, make sure you:
- Sleep: Rather than staying up all night studying for your psych exam, make sure to get a good night’s rest instead. Sleep allows your brain to respond faster and make better choices. Plan to go to bed at a time that allows you to wake with plenty of time to mentally prepare for the test or, if necessary, commute without rushing.
- Drink water: Your brain needs hydration to function properly. Drink plenty of water when you study, the night before an exam, and on exam day.
- Eat: What you eat can impact your focus and energy levels before a big exam. Choose nutritious foods that aid your memory when studying, such as seeds, nuts, blueberries, and yogurt. Avoid overindulging on junk food and sugar, no matter how tempting it is. Always eat well before tests and while studying for a slow release of energy throughout.
- Give yourself breaks: Never cram when you study for psych tests or midterms. Taking short breaks of around ten minutes for every hour of studying is ideal. Set up a regular study schedule before your exams to stay organized and avoid pulling all-nighters.
- Quiz yourself: Ask yourself questions about the material while preparing for a test in order to identify your areas of struggle. This knowledge may help you figure out how to prioritize areas to focus on while studying.
- Take one small step at a time: When you have a big exam, spending several hours in a row studying can be tempting. However, you may stay on track and remain motivated by studying a little each day instead. Breaking huge tasks into smaller sections that can be completed may be much less daunting.
Using Study Tips Can Boost Grades
Studying for psychology exams can be daunting. Taking online courses requires self-discipline, even if you have a study group, and your own habits are essential to your success. Figuring out which study tips work best for you could be the key to ending the stress, improving your grades, and ensuring a positive online psychology degree experience.