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Studying with a group is a great way to better learn material for a test. A study group allows you to study more material in less time, and you benefit from the perspectives and knowledge of others in your group who may have a better grasp of the material.
Study groups also offer you a great support system to give you pointers, answer questions, and just lend an ear when you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
However, it is important to establish some strategies to ensure that your study session is effective and doesn’t get derailed by socializing or other distractions. Here are a few ideas for how to study effectively with a study group:
Create an Agenda
The easiest way to make sure you stay on track is to develop an agenda for each study session. Determine what your goals are: Do you want to cover all of a certain section of your textbook? Do you want to review key terms? Do you want to practice exam questions?
Once you determine your objectives, create an agenda and stick to it. Knowing what you need to accomplish will keep you focused and ensure that you make the most efficient use of your time.
Appoint a Leader
A leader can moderate your study session to keep your discussion on track when distractions threaten to derail your productivity. Your group leader can monitor and limit socializing, breaks, and other interruptions as needed to make sure you meet the goals of each study session.
You can choose a new leader for each session so that no one group member feels overwhelmed with responsibility.
No group will be as effective as it can be if only a few members are actively participating. Everyone will benefit from a variety of perspectives and insights.
Come prepared with questions that you can use to probe group members who are not participating. Or create a dynamic in which each group member answers each question or contributes to each prompt. The size of your group will determine what is possible.
Some of the best ways to learn material is to practice it – and, certainly, one of the best ways to study for an exam is to take a practice exam. Role playing in your study group can help you do this.
You can create test-day conditions and practice the exam together. Or you can get creative and figure out how to act out some of the concepts you are studying to learn them better. Think outside the box: Whatever role-play activities you are able to incorporate will help you learn the material better and perform well on the test.
Great discussions come out of study sessions. Members argue, debate points, or have detailed questions about the material. Take note of these points or questions to bring up in class with your professor. They will help you to probe the material more deeply for greater understanding.
Just like studying on your own, studying effectively in a group requires that you develop a plan and that you commit to being an active participant in your own learning. You can do this by encouraging participation by all members, role playing concepts or test-taking, and follow-up for additional information with your professor.
Do you have any other tips for how to make the most out of a study group? Share your ideas in the comments!