March 2, 2013
It’s around that time of year again: midterms! Time to “skim and scan” your way through hundreds of pages of reading you never did and attempt to understand the problem sets that your TA somehow thought you did right. If you’re debating how to go about tackling the ridiculous amount of studying heading your way, have no fear! Group studying might be the best way to earn that A. Yes, group studying sucks when reading devolves into gossip about last Saturday night and the cutest new animal videos on Buzzfeed. But with a bit of ingenuity and dedication, studying in a group may actually benefit you a lot more than hanging out solo in a library cubicle.
Choose your group wisely
Studying for an American Politics exam? Gather people in that class. Period. Assuming that your group of close friends on campus leads to a focused study group is probably very wrong (but potentially fun). The people in your class are taking the same test as you and are probably just as stressed- they want to do well too! So if you’re that guy giggling at videos of goats screaming like humans in the corner, then they’ll probably hate you, ignore you, and you’ll probably fail. So if you really want to study, choose people who will definitely push you to get you stuff together over people that make you laugh.
Make a Plan of Action
So you need to review Chapter 17, talk about resonant structures, and write every possible polymer of a molecule for your upcoming chemistry exam. WRITE THAT DOWN. Communicate with your group so you can understand what everyone wants to practice, accomplish, and discuss. That way the group is already steered in a particular direction and there are goals in mind for the entire group experience. Having goals in mind sets the tone for the entire study group session. By the time it’s over, you’ll feel more accomplished if you and everyone else actually studied.
Time to Talk/Time to Read
Every time I study with my friends, reading rapidly devolves into talking…which leads to gossip..which leads to funny gifs…which leads to baby animal pictures…which leads to hours and hours of procrastination instead of studying. If you want to make group studying work, set aside fifteen minutes after every hour to just unwind and talk. Focusing for an entire hour without interruption definitely deserves a reward. By incentivizing the study experience for everyone, there is more reason to focus to get to the reward on the other side of the steep hill of problems and readings.
Get Your Really Focused Friend to Study With You
So there’s a guy on your floor that’s an Engineering major and he’s an absolute genius. That’s right. Study with him. If you surround yourself with people that are constantly getting their work done, then human nature will compel you to get your stuff done too. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a failure because your still doing your history reading but your study buddy is already finished with work for three of his classes. It’s all about perspective and company.