Top Tips for First Year Psychology Students

As the halls of residence begin to clear, it’s beginning to sink in that the first year of my Psychology degree is complete. I may be waiting for a few assessment results, but overall I have had a successful academic year and have definitely surprised myself with what I have achieved.

As a result, I thought I’d share my top tips for success in first year Psychology and hope that they may make the lives of prospective Psychology students slightly easier!

  1. Be Prepared! – In the words of Scar from The Lion King. I found that a lot of the content covered this year I had already studied at A level, so if you are new to Psychology as a subject, it might be good to research some popular studies and topics to give yourself an equal start.If you also studied Psychology previously, still take on some research, check out the recommended reading lists on blackboard or just refresh your memory.
  2. Be Open Minded! – Psychology, as the study of the human mind and behaviour, is extremely broad. You may be interested in a specific field such as clinical or forensic, but don’t shut yourself off from other areas as you may find something new that interests you.Psychology can also cover highly sensitive subjects, so ensure you are respectful of your fellow course mates and also check the lecture content in advance to avoid any personal distress when you arrive.
  3. Keep On Top of Your Note Taking! – If you’re anything like me, you will take tonnes of notes throughout your lectures, so if they are left until exam period, you’re going to end up with a mountain of disorganized paper to drown in.Keep organised and file them away to avoid unnecessary stress. Also, if you miss a lecture, catch up as soon as possible so you aren’t left with gaps in your revision.
  4. Learn to Work Independently! – With a Psychology degree, you get out of it what you put in. Unlike at A level, you won’t be spoon fed resources or information, it’s up to you to know what you’re doing and to get it done. It’s your degree and your choice so always make the most of your time.
  5. Make Mistakes and Be Okay with Them! – First year grades don’t count towards your overall degree classification, so you just have to pass! That’s 90/120 credits for the year. Use this time to try out working styles and find out what works with you. Try hard, but if you make mistakes, relax and use them as a learning curve.
  6. APA Guide! – Yes referencing totally sucks, but think of the APA guide as your Holy book. When in doubt, always check! It can be found online or you pick up a copy during Fresher’s from the Hive.
  7. Help Each Other! – Teamwork makes the dream work – enough said really.
  8. Utilise Help! – You can never have too much help. Attend the drop in sessions, go to seminars, book tutorials and use the walkthroughs as if used correctly they really will help boost your grades.
  9. Start in Advance! – We all say we will but we can all also say we haven’t – I’m definitely no stranger to the all night Pierson sessions. Honestly, when you can, give yourself time as a few hundred words a day is better than writing a whole research report the night before – trust me.
  10. Enjoy What You Study! – Psychology is a fascinating and diverse subject. Enjoy every minute of it!
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