Is studying in groups helpful, or does it slow you down? Yes… and no… to both questions.
Like anything else, studying in groups can be a good and a bad thing. Here are the pros and cons, with some tips to help you maximize the pros while you mitigate the cons:
Keeping you on a schedule
It’s tough to stay motivated to study, especially at times like midterms and finals when you have so many different subjects to study for and it seems like the workload never decreases no matter how long you chip away at it. Next time you feel your motivation waning, try getting a group together for a specific date and time. When other people are expecting you, it’s easier to be on time.
Gaining new perspectives and knowledge
No one has a perfect memory. But if you can’t recall that date, formula, or definition, chances are one of your study group members can. This can save you valuable time instead of having to dig through your notes or textbook.
You might also gain a new perspective on how to study – a neat flashcard app that a group member uses, a helpful mnemonic device, or a way of staying organized and tackling tasks. They might even be able to give you some feedback on your favorite.
Divide and conquer
While your group members can’t study for you, there are some boring and time-consuming tasks in the process of studying that it can be helpful to divide up. This can allow everyone in the group to save time and energy for more intense and useful tasks.
Teaching is the best way to learn
Teaching someone something else requires a high level of comprehension. You will be able to challenge your own understanding of the material when you teach it to someone else. Can you summarize The Whiskey Rebellion in two sentences? If your friend asks you about it, you’ll have to.
You’ll also benefit from the questions your group members ask you while you explain something to them. When they ask a question, it could bring up something you forgot to mention, or point out a flaw in your own reasoning. That gives you a chance to fix a mistake you might have made on the test.
Keep it light and stay sane
Sure, you don’t want your fellow group members to distract you. But at the same time, you should realize that it is helpful to take breaks and socialize a bit. Just don’t let it get out of hand.
It’s easy to get distracted
Some people love to chat, no matter how many times you ask them to stay on topic.
Also, maybe you have developed the self control to say no when your phone buzzes during a study session. What if 6 phones buzz at the same time, all with a Snapchat from that really funny person? Good luck staying on topic.
The group could move too fast, or too slow
If you are by far the best student in your study group, you may find yourself slowed down by having to explain concepts that you don’t need much review on. On the other hand, if you are in a group full of students more advanced than yourself, you might be eating dust and be too embarrassed to speak up. Make sure you’re in a group of your academic peers to maximize productivity.
3. You might all have the same weaknesses
One time in high school, I got a group together to study for a Latin test. The problem was, on the day the teacher taught the trickiest grammar for the test, we all left school early for a track meet and missed it. So we spent about 3 hours trying to teach ourselves from the book. We could have saved a lot of time if we had just invited someone who had been there that day. Think ahead and plan intelligently!
Ultimately, it’s up for you to decide whether group studying is right for you, and how to do it. We hope we were able to help you determine the best way for you to succeed on your midterms! Good luck!