How To Make A Study Group

It’s the first week of classes and everything seems fine, until you go from syllabus review to Chapter 1. What’s this material? Is this even the class you signed up for? You just went from 25 miles per hour in a school zone to breaking the speed limit on the highway. At this point, you can’t drop the class without it affecting your record, and it’s too late to get into another class.  You’re confronted with an age-old adage; sink or swim. How you approach this class in the next few weeks is going to determine how you handle the rest of the semester. But there is a life preserver in the water next to you…start a study group.

But how? You don’t know any of these people, and don’t know if they understand the material better than you do. Start with asking those directly around you if they understand what’s going on in class. Once you get to talking, ask them if they’d want to get coffee or something and talk about it. Once you establish a connection or two, arrange a meeting time for your group. It’s important to have your first meeting in a neutral, public location like the library, student center, or coffee place. It’s risky to go to anyone’s house this early.

Get to your agreed upon location a few minutes before everyone else is supposed to arrive. Arrange the seating in a circle formation (unless your heart is set on taking a seat in front of everyone). Utilizing nonverbal communication through seating is going to put your group in motion. When people start to arrive, give them time to sit down, get their books out, and get settled. This will create an aura of relaxing study, and not hyper stressed finals style pressure.

Once everyone is accounted for, start the meeting by having everyone introduce themselves. As you have probably only seen each other in class, this will help with establishing comfort in the group. Talk about the confusion you’re having in class, and others will join in with their similar frustrations. Once you’ve opened the gates, and people are freely conversing with each other, bring up the idea of starting a study group. Here is what you’ll need to create an effective one:

1. Lines of Communication

You’ll need to be able to contact each other about meetings, deadlines, and projects. You should create a Google Doc, asking for phone numbers, school emails, and Quizlet accounts. Ask for everyone’s Gmail addresses so they can all fill it out and have access to the information.

2. Determine Regular Meetings

You'll need to establish a good meeting day, time, and location. Ask if anyone has suggestions for where you should meet. Maybe someone has a hook-up for after hours access to the fancy computer lab?

3. Make a Schedule

Minh Pham

It might seem like you have all the time in the world for completing assignments, and studying for exams, but the end of the semester will hit you like a truck. Take out a copy of the syllabus, and make note of all the important dates to plan around. You'll all need to come up with a plan for tackling assignments, studying, practice tests, and final run-throughs for exams.

4. Assign Responsibilities

Ideally, everyone in the group brings something different to the table. Have everyone go around the room and discuss what talents they have, and what responsibilities they can handle. Break things up as much as you can and get that synergy going!

5. Determine Best Study/Preparation Skills

There are countless ways to learn and understand classroom material. Play around with different options available to you. You can try flashcards, mind maps, and verbal exercises. As long as you're learning, you're doing it right!

6. Recruit Other Classmates (optional)

You may find that other people in class are having difficulty. If your group has space available, feel free to invite them into the fold! Hopefully the more people you add, the better your chances of doing well in the class.

7. Succeed!

With your combined strengths, you are sure to pass the class with flying colors! You may even make some friends along the way that will follow you throughout school! Congrats!