Study Tips and Tricks

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Learn APA!

Reading the APA Style Guide sounds boring, but it will make your entire undergraduate engagement with psychology easier. Elaina St. Onge from Campion Library has made the PSA a custom resource with all kinds of information about APA citation and how to learn it.

Handwrite Your Notes

Throughout your university career, you will hear that handwriting your notes is better for memorization — for a good reason. There are multiple studies that favour handwriting over typing notes as handwriting creates a more complex memory trace and thus, greater success on exams.

Actively Study by Engaging With Your Notes

Reading and highlighting your notes and textbook may be the most time-efficient way to study, but is it the most effective? No, while you will save time you will forget the material at a faster rate. The University of North Carolina recommends to instead study actively by engaging with your study material. 

Some examples of active studying are:

  1. Creating your own study guide 
  2. Associate meaning to the concepts by relating them to your own experience 
  3. Vocally teach the information to yourself in your own words so you can explain, contrast, and re-evaluate the concepts

Join a Study Group

Study groups offer a great way to learn the material as you can not only quiz one another but also teach each other concepts in your own words — hence strengthening your own knowledge. If you are looking to join a study group, check out the PSA’s weekly Psych Lounge this Fall semester! Drop in and ask questions, or join other students for a study session.

Pick the Right Time for Studying

Whether it’s in the morning or in the evening, we all study better when we are the most alert. As such, it is important to study at the right time of day when you are in your most productive state.

Stay Organized

The semesters go by fast and it is easy to lose track of due dates and exams. At the beginning of the semester, before things get too intense, enter your exam and assignment due dates in your calendar and try to review the upcoming month once a week. By consistently reviewing what’s in store for the semester you will stay on top of your coursework and hopefully avoid any important dates slipping through the cracks. 

Attend Lectures

Don’t just rely on your textbook — go to class even if the lecture material duplicates what you’ve already read. Hearing about a concept more than once, from your textbook and lectures, makes it more likely you’ll remember that concept in the future. Plus, your professors don’t always teach straight from the textbook and you may miss important information if you skip.

Have a Designated Study Area

For the last few semesters, the majority of students have been studying at home which may be a change for those who are used to studying in quiet libraries or common areas. To make the most out of at-home studying, Oxford Learning recommends creating a designated study area in your home, such as a desk or kitchen table. They don’t recommend studying in bed as it may tempt you into taking a nap!

Writing Psychology Papers

As a psychology student, you will be expected to write a lot of papers on a diverse array of topics, all in APA-style. This is a specific format of writing that may differ from one you would use in other classes. It is paramount that you understand how APA-formatting works, and the OWL at Purdue University has put together an excellent website to show you just that. They even have a psychology-specific section that you can use to help you write your papers!


How to study at home (without getting distracted). (July 19, 2019). Oxford Learning. Retrieved July 6, 2020, from https://www.oxfordlearning.com/tips-for-studying-at-home/

The Learning Center: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Studying 101: Study smarter not harder. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/studying-101-study-smarter-not-harder/

Putnam, A., Sungkhasettee, V., & Roediger, H. (2016). Optimizing Learning in College: Tips From Cognitive Psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(5), 652-660. https://doi-org.libproxy.uregina.ca/10.1177%2F1745691616645770

Smoker, T., Murphy, C., & Rockwell, A. (2009). Comparing Memory for Handwriting versus Typing. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting,53(22), 1744-1747. https://doi-org.libproxy.uregina.ca/10.1177%2F154193120905302218