Psychology: Posts

5 tips to study smarter from a psychologist

Dr Gary Wood, author of Letters to a New Student, shares 5 helpful study tips.

1) Be pro-active and make a habit of actively relaxing to reduce stress 

2) Work smarter not harder by using key learning principles in psychology

3) Create a positive learning environment and a predictable routine to aid memory and learning 

4) Actively engage to make sense of learning material instead of passive approaches. Ask and answer questions rather than just reading through your notes 

5) Be clear with other people about how they can support you and ask for help when you need 

Blog post: The secret of success is to be able to learn, un-learn and re-learn 
By Dr Gary Wood

We learn to cope and make sense of the world by trial and error and through the examples of others. And it can be a challenge to let go of an approach that has served us well but no longer seems to work. It often happens in times of transition between distinct phases of life. Each academic year brings new goals and different demands. And, what worked at college might not be right for university. Sometimes, each new term or semester needs a different mindset. Yet, all too often, rather than adapt the temptation is to dig in, redouble our efforts to ‘make it work’ again. It’s a case of ‘no-pain-no-gain’ and ‘better the devil you know’! But these attitudes only take us so far. Often working harder can get in the way of working smarter. It’s also upsetting to find out that things could have been easier for us! So, in the face of psychological evidence to the contrary, we entertain the idea that we’re ‘one of a kind’ – the exception to the rule. It’s a barrier to reading study skills books. Yet success in learning according to sociologist Alvin Toffler belongs to those who can ‘learn, unlearn and re-learn’.

Letters to a New Student offers a different approach to study skills - a remedy to the ‘no-pain-no-gain’ bug. One that accepts individual differences but is still grounded in psychology. Also, it’s brief. Faced with a daunting reading list, the last thing you need is another book ‘thick enough to stun an ox’. And, when stressed you don’t process information efficiently. This book consists of a series of light, informal, short, problem-page style letters. Read in any order, you get the same blueprint to learn how to learn. Working within a framework of 12 key principles, you create a learning approach that is meaningful to you. It’s also a resource to which you can return again and again, especially when you feel stuck or faced with changing goals.

Free Chapter
Download the introductory chapter for a sneak peak!

Get Access

Featured Book

Download our Infographic

About the Author

Dr Gary Wood is a Chartered Psychologist, solution-focused life coach and broadcaster. He is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has taught psychology, research methods and learning skills in several UK universities. Gary appears in the media offering expert analysis and coaching tips and as an agony uncle (advice columnist). To find out more visit: