PSY 101 Students*, Read This:

It’s absolutely essential that you access and use the study guide that we’ve provided for you on the Psychology Learning Center web site. I provide no other handouts in class. Also, be sure to thoroughly read the syllabus.

Before you even start, however, get an idea of what to expect from an introductory psychology course by reading my PSY 101 Expectations.

Here is a link to the 101 FAQ that all 101 students should read.

And if you missed it, here’s a link to the introductory PLC slideshow.

For yet more information, see the Psychology Learning Center web site.

* Except those in PSY 101-Honors, for whom this information does not apply.

How to succeed in PSY 101

Michael S. Ofsowitz

First, read the syllabus a few times so that you’ll know the rules. This course is designed by the psychology department, and is standardized so all students at MCC taking PSY 101 are experiencing the same thing at the same time (just with different teachers, each of whom has a distinct personality). The rules (and the schedule – keep an eye on it as well) are the basis of the structure. Know them and follow them!

Come to class. That seems obvious, but you might be tempted to skip class as long as you’re passing the tests. I can assure you that students who come to class do better on tests than those who don’t come to class. You might skip a couple of classes and beat the odds (scoring well on a test), which is fine… just remember that this positive experience isn’t based on the law of averages, and you should not rest serious educational decisions on it. I repeat: students who come to class do better on tests than those who skip class.

Know what to study. The psychology department has gone to lengths to create materials to help you focus on the units in a way that emphasizes what you will need to know for tests. Use the study guide, notice the division of units into learning objectives, and start your testing with the practice tests.

* Each unit is divided into 20 objectives. The objectives might be narrow, covering just a paragraph or two in the text, or they might be broad, covering a few pages. But there are always 20 objectives per unit, and all the material on tests comes from these 20 objectives.

* Each objective will appear on every test for that unit. Every test has 20 questions, one for each listed objective. These objectives are shown in the study guide and at the start of each unit in your textbook. Sometimes you’ll see test questions that are broadly asking about the main point of the objectives, and sometimes you’ll see questions that ask about some small, detailed aspect of the objectives. We use a lot of questions and that leads to using a few that seem trivial; if it’s in the book and a part of the defined objective, it can be on a test. If it is emphasized by one of the questions from the study guide, it is very likely to be in our test bank.

* Know your terminology, but don’t just memorize definitions. In large part, this class is teaching you a new vocabulary: the vocabulary of psychology. You can’t pass the class without learning the vocabulary of psychology. But you will rarely see test questions that merely ask you to choose the correct definition for a term. The questions are much more likely to see if you can apply the definition, to see if you know how to use the terms you’re learning. Be prepared for that.

Take notes. Some of the teachers for PSY 101 put outlines for note-taking on the M-drive or in ANGEL. I don’t provide additional handouts. If you get your hands on others’, I won’t mind. Whether you have an outline or not, and the study guide is an excellent outline, take notes in class. Lectures will be on material that will be on the tests, although I might spice it up with personal applications, funny stories, and a few foolish twists (as tedious as survey material might be, I enjoy psychology quite a bit).

* Take notes in class. Afterward, go over your notes and compare them to the book and the study guide. If you see discrepancies, make a note of it (and ask me about it: you might get to correct my mistakes), but always go with what the text says – after all, the test questions all come from the book.

* Take notes when reading the textbook. Yes, this is how good students do it: they actually take notes from their reading. Reading a survey text can be terribly boring. There’s no plot, no characters, no adventure. Don’t count on remembering it simply by way of reading. Highlight important parts so you can go back and scan those quickly when reviewing, but take notes, too. The act of writing will help ingrain the information into your memory. You can write these notes in the margins of the text, on note cards, on post-it notes, in your computer, or in a notebook, whatever works best for you. You really shouldn’t skip this part.

Use the study guide. How many times have I said this already on this page? Trust me on this. Use it. Write in it. Work with it. Answer all the questions. This thing was designed to help you learn the material.

Take the practice tests. The practice tests can be found in the Psychology Learning Center (a place you should get to know well), or on the Internet from the Psychology Learning Center’s home page. (There are always two different practice tests for each unit; only one is accessible over the Internet. The other is in the Psychology Learning Center, on their computers.) The practice tests will give you an idea of how we write questions for each unit. The questions are directly from our test bank.

Know your way around the Psychology Learning Center. Don’t wait until the 8th week of class to find your way to the learning center. Start using the center ASAP. Get used to it. Know the routines on both sides (the study side and the testing side). Everybody’s new to it at first. Just go there and take a practice test and talk to a teacher and take an A or a C test. (To take a real test there be sure to bring a picture ID. Don’t even think of asking for a test without an ID. If the computers are working you won’t need a pencil, but if the system is down you’ll need one. Remember the rules of the course!) Get in the habit of using this place. (The web site for the learning center is – additional information is available there.)

Take multiple tests. We offer you three chances for each unit. Keep trying. If you only take one and don’t do very well it sends a message to your teacher: you don’t care! If you don’t care, why bother paying tuition? Why bother getting a degree? Think of your priorities and why you’re coming to college. (Really, take a minute and think about this.)

And when class is all over, try to resist the urge to sell back the book. This is psychology: you’re going to use it later on in life, again and again and again. You’ll want something to help you remember. You’ll want the manual.