Secrets to a Successful Study Group

in College Tips   •  
Study groups, when done right, are very rewarding.

Study groups, when done right, are very rewarding.

The prospect of a study group makes me wary. Some of my study groups have turned into unproductive hang-out sessions, while others quickly became panicky and disorganized. So when members of my difficult psychology class suggested that we try a study group, I knew I should go, but I wasn't thrilled about it. But it ended up being productive, fun and cordial, and I learned a lot.

Here are a few ways you can ensure that your study session is a success:

Find People Who Care

There are some people who volunteer for study groups because it's a way for them to study without having to do any individual work. Avoid these people. My study group occurred on a Friday night, which meant that only those serious about studying wanted to attend.

When arranging a study group, I recommend having a small and manageable group of people, and don't just invite all of your friends. You will probably be able to focus more with people you don't know well, and you might even make a new friend in the process.

Come Prepared

Again, those who think they can do all their studying during a group session typically don't belong there. People came to my study group with specific questions and a lot of knowledge. I benefited greatly from this particular study group because I knew specifically what knowledge I needed, and I also knew my strengths, which I used to help other people.

Have a Plan

It's best to have an itinerary during a study session, like a study guide that you can follow. If your teacher hasn't provided you with a set study guide, try to prepare a list of topics in advance. See if someone wants to create a list of topics beforehand, or have everyone email their questions to someone. If it's a textbook-based course, go through the table of contents.

Study groups can become chaotic, so having a plan can lend focus to the chaos. When the group devolves into off-topic conversations, someone can steer the group by saying, "Okay, let's move on to question two."

All of the successful study groups I've had have had these components: a small group of focused students, preparation, and a set plan. The addition of others' minds and perspectives can be invaluable when studying. I did very well on that psychology test, thanks to the collaboration with my fellow classmates, and the execution of a successful group study session.

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