5 Ways to Optimize Group Study

By Staff Writer Published on June 5, 2017

Working with other classmates is a great way to get new perspectives on difficult material. When you work with others who learn differently than you, you can teach each other concepts in ways that solidify your understanding and improve your comprehension of a topic. However, working with others requires a discipline that’s not always necessary for solo studying. It’s easy to get off track with unrelated conversations. Here are some tips for getting the most out of group study sessions.

1. Come prepared

Before your study session, make a list of questions or concepts you’d like to go over with your group. Organize your notes and other study aids so you know where everything is when you get there. Make sure to bring your books, laptop, study slides, flashcards, or any other class material so you can reference it if necessary.

2. Follow an agenda

You don’t necessarily need to write out an agenda (though that might help), but do make sure you cover material in a logical order. For example, if you’re studying for a test that covers a certain amount of chapters, you could decide to go through one chapter at a time in chronological order. Or, if you’re working on a Powerpoint presentation, make a to-do list of tasks to ensure everything gets done, like writing out the content, designing the slides, assigning a presenter, or dividing up the slides, if necessary.

3. Split up the work

Group study sessions are an effective way to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. If you are assigned what seems like an insurmountable amount of studying or concepts, get with a group and divvy up the work. Have one or a few people learn about each topic, chapter, or concept, and then teach each other in your group study session. That way, you don’t have to pull an all-nighter to get through the material.

4. Teach each other

Along the same lines, be prepared to contribute to the group regardless of what you’re studying. While preparing for the group study session, identify the topics you’re confident you’ve learned well, and volunteer to teach that information to the group. Then it won’t seem like you’ve only come to lighten your load while benefiting from the work of others. Also, teaching others is one of the best ways to learn something yourself.

5. Keep track of time

Most importantly, make sure your group study session is not a waste of time by keeping track of the time. Miscellaneous conversations are bound to happen, so go into the study session with the intention of designating a few minutes at the beginning to catching up. Other distractions may also get you off topic, such as a text, social media message, bathroom or snack break, etc. Allow yourself a few minutes to get back on task after these distractions, but be diligent in doing so to ensure your study session is efficient. Be prepared to kindly and tactfully ask others to stay on topic if they begin to stray.

And last, but not least, build some meaningful friendships with members of your study group. Relationships with your college peers can last for the rest of your life and become a positive force in your personal life and career path.