It’s not uncommon to see students cloistered together, especially as the dates for college entrance exams draw ever closer. As a former college student myself, I can understand the synergistic appeal of joining up with friends and bouncing lesson ideas off of each other.
If you’ve never participated in a study group session before, or if you’d like to know how you can make the most of your own group, then read on.
Why a Group?
A former professor of mine once remarked that the more he taught a lesson, the better he understood it himself. Now imagine that scenario taking place among three or more people. It’s a brilliant win-win strategy, isn’t it?
Simply put, there’s something about explaining an idea to someone, arguing about it, and dissecting it that impresses the lesson more deeply upon your mind and that of anyone else who’s studying with you. The fact that other people can point out important insights that you’ve missed, or help you with something that you’re not particularly good at is great, too.
Forming a Good Group
The scenario I’ve described above is an ideal one. The sad truth is that not all study groups will prove conducive to learning, which is why you’ve got to take special care when forming your study group.
Ideally, a study group should consist of three to six people—large enough so as to keep each other focused, but not too large that someone gets left out. As to who to include in your group, heed Robert Kiyosaki’s advice: intelligent people surround themselves with others who are smarter than they are. Find people who are really good at the subject you’re trying to learn and enlist their help.
Whenever possible, commit to meeting at the same specific time and place at least once a week. Meeting for two to three hours max is a good rule of thumb, as the time limit will remind you to concentrate on the lessons at hand.
Seizing the Day
Even if you’ve gotten your group members together, there are still things you can do to help you make the most of your study session. For one thing, it helps to elect a facilitator or a leader to keep things running smoothly.
Also, you may wish to delegate work according to the skills and talents of the members of your group. For example, you can split a complicated topic into three subtopics, and have two people in your six-person group summarize their assigned sections for everyone.
Determine the specific points you’d like to cover ahead of time, as well as how much time you’ll spend on each, so that you can jump straight to business and stick to it. Having clear, specific goals and a structured strategy means you’re more likely to redeem the time.
While it’s understandable to want to cover as much ground as you can during a study group session, do take some time out for short breaks. Studies show that human energy levels tends to ebb after about an hour or an hour and a half of work, so taking even five minutes to gain some perspective can refresh your mind for the rest of the session.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy your time together. Yes, you’re there to study and learn, but if you can have fun bonding as a result, then so much the better.