The VCE Psychology course certainly poses a number of challenges. Though the course content is not as complex as subjects like physics and chemistry, there is a substantial amount to cover and remember. This might at times seem overwhelming, but you’ll quickly find that if you work hard and consistently, things will fall into place. Thankfully, the subject matter itself is mostly very interesting and has a lot of real-world relevance. As you explore what modern psychologists understand about the way humans think and behave, you’ll be able to relate many of these concepts to your own personal experiences. Indeed, as you progress through the course and continue to come across new concepts, I’d strongly encourage you to come up with your own real-world examples of each. This will help make the concepts more concrete and relatable.
Unfortunately, though, not all of the content might seem so relevant to you! A big focus of the course is on research methods, which involves learning about scientific research and the way in which it’s conducted. For example, you’ll be looking at how experiments are designed, the problems researchers can face, and how these problems can be overcome. This might seem dry compared to the other areas of study in the course, but the reason it’s heavily focused on is that scientific research is fundamental to the field of psychology: It is the primary source of psychologists’ knowledge and informs the way psychologists treat clients in the clinic. The research methods content will probably seem tricky at first (particularly for those of you who haven’t completed VCE Psychology Units 1&2), but it will be a big focus of my articles in future.
The Textbook: Your Bible!
Thankfully, for research methods and every other area of study you encounter, your textbook will contain all the information you’ll need to perform well. It really is your bible for this subject! Reading through each and every chapter of the textbook is vital, and in my opinion, it is essential that you make your own notes and summaries of each chapter as you read. A common mistake I see students make is to rely not on the textbook, but on summaries such as PowerPoint slides provided by teachers. Though these summaries can be helpful, they simply do not have the same level of detail as the textbook chapters. You don’t want to be missing content that could potentially come up as a question in a SAC or exam! So read each chapter thoroughly. Furthermore, the act of making your own notes and summaries as you read will help you remember the information better than reading alone.
Ultimately, if you work hard and consistently for the duration of the course, you’ll have nothing to fear! In the next instalment of this series, I’ll go through some of the things you can do over the summer holidays to make a positive start (and get ahead of everyone else!).