5 Steps to Forming an Effective Study Group

During midterm season, the pressure to study as much as possible can be daunting (to say to least). While putting in hours and hours of work is often just a reality of college life, it’s critical to note that quality really does coexist with quantity when it comes to your study habits.

One of the many ways of studying can be to form a study group with people in your class. As simple as it may sound, there’s a lot that goes into forming an effective study group, which includes where you meet, how often, and what material you choose to cover.  Be conscious of these choices weeks ahead of your midterm or final, and there's no doubt in my mind that you will ace those exams. 

Step 1: Choose Wisely

How many people you study with and who those people are is critical to how much you will gain from your sessions together. I think three is a perfect number, because if one or two of you get distracted, a third person will be around to help you focus again. After you’ve established a solid number of people, make sure they’re the right ones. If you’re super focused on that A, then pick people who sit in the first couple of rows of class, because studies show that those people get higher overall marks.

Step 2: Pick a Spot

Someone’s apartment or dorm room is probably not going to cut it when it comes to studying effectively. I say there’s nothing like a private study room in the library to get you far from distractions but close to any resources you might need. You can reserve these in advance, and they often include white boards or TV’s where you can project any information you’re looking over.

Step 3: Plan Ahead

Once you’ve established a group and place to meet, take one session to go over all of the information you’ll need to know for your midterm or final, and organize who will cover what. Maybe it’s best if you all review the entirety of the syllabus on your own and test each other during your time together, or maybe you’re splitting up the readings so that you all don’t have to read 200 pages all over again. Either way, it’s important that planning occur early on, so make sure you do this at least 3 weeks before the exam itself.

Step 4: Don’t Lose Yourself

If you’ve never studied in a group before, it can be easy to feel that you have to throw your previously acquired study habits out the window in order to conform to the other members’ needs. This isn’t true though. If you love using paper flashcards and someone else prefers Quizlet, ask that you get tested on paper and offer to test them via Quizlet. Likewise, if you think it’s best that you review certain parts of your syllabus individually, then by all means do that and show up to the group with the knowledge you gained on your own.

Step 5: Sharing is Caring

Any notes or breakthroughs that you have really should be shared with your group. Lets say you wrote out a practice essay for the long-answer portion of your exam, go ahead and share it with the other members of your group and encourage them to do the same, so that you can all build off of each others answers in order to get a well-rounded view on the breadth of perspectives out there. You will only gain from sharing knowledge (and remember, this is NOT the same as cheating or plagiarizing) and integrating it into your own views in order to strengthen your opinion.

[Feature Image by Unsplash]