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Will you be my study buddy? How to study effectively in groups

By Lauran Cole, 4th-year Life Sciences major

“Hey there! You seem like you really know your stuff. Do you want to be in a study group together?”

Group studying can be very helpful and Learning Strategies encourages students to study in groups 25% of the time.

Study groups can sometimes have a bad rap but they can really make a difference in a challenging course! I think one of my favorite study moments was when my friends set up a mock anatomy lab exam. We came with practice questions and set up stations with questions. One of my friends set a timer to mimic the actual exam. We had a blast trying to stump one another!

Here are some quick tips and tricks of how to effectively form a study group and how to study.

How to pick group members:

  1. Likeminded students– Try to pick peers who have similar goals and a positive attitude. It is important to study with people you can feel comfortable with and can ask questions.
  2. Feel confident in the people you study with– Try to ask students who attend class and like to sit at the front. This strategy can ensure that group members can actively contribute to the discussion.
  3. Challenge yourself – Study with people who have a solid knowledge base that will push you to know the information well.

How to study in a group:

  1. Make up your own exam questions- Before meeting, assign each person a set number of lectures or chapters in the textbook to form questions from. You can also exchange little summaries of your notes or practice questions. This strategy is a great way to solidify the information and even test your own knowledge. I dare you to try to think like the prof and try to stump your friends!
  2. Try to teach a tough concept to a friend– Teaching your peers can be beneficial for your own learning. Forcing yourself to think about the material in a unique way and discuss it can allow you to make connections on a deeper level.
  3. Ask questions about tricky concepts– Your group mates might have the perfect explanation to make that concept click.
  4. Make a list of questions to ask a TA or prof– If there are some concepts that your group is still stumped by, that’s okay! Come up with a list of questions to ask your TA or professor.
  5. Utilize online resources – You can try using Doodle to find a time that works for everyone. Also, you can share notes with your friends through OneDrive, Google docs, Quizlet, or Dropbox. Sharing notes is a great way to get a more complete view of the course since different students pick up on different points.

I hope these strategies encourage you to form a study group! The rest of your time should be spent in individual studying. It is important to utilize this alone time as well so that you nail down hard concepts you are still struggling with.

Good luck on all of your exams and papers! We believe in you 🙂

Photo courtesy of kcxd under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.