Studying by yourself can be… frustrating… boring… and other choice words my students have used. Unfortunately, frustration and boredom are bound to happen sooner or later, because studying is usually a lone task. How can students overcome that hump and finish the term strongly? One way is to find a study group! …but where? and how?
1) Ask the teacher. The teacher usually knows who is doing well in the class and can suggest someone to you. At the very least, the person the teacher points out could lead you to…
2) Ask a classmate. It could be the student getting a better grade. That makes sense: ask for help from a person who understands the material better than you do! However, if there aren’t any grades yet, just ask the student next to you. Any classmate likely wants to do well also. Ask your friend in the class. Pay attention to others talking about studying; ask to join them!
3) Check out a bulletin board. There are boards in the library, the cafeteria,your residence hall (if you’re in college and live on-campus),and various other places around school. Find the online forums/boards for your class. Plenty of people are looking for study partners. They’re just waiting for you to find them! If you can’t find existing study groups, then…
4) Take the initiative. If you haven’t matched up with someone yet, post your own “Looking for a study group” message! Tell your classmates you’re forming a study group, and ask if they would like to join. Sometimes, you need to take the big action of forming the group yourself. And really, all that entails is (once again) asking a classmate to study with you.
5) Keep it small. This is SO IMPORTANT. Ever notice how the larger a group is, the more conversations there are? Now, that works great for a party, but a study group is not a party. Study with people who are serious about studying. You can have fun, but you want a study group that is effective in STUDYING. From experience, study groups of 2-4 people work the best. This size helps each person focus on the material better. When one person asks a question, everyone can hear it. The group can be bigger, but definitely try to keep the maximum at six people. Things just get out of hand with more than six people. So keep it small to make it effective.
Studying with others engages senses and methods that you don’t normally use when studying by yourself. This helps introduce the material to your brain in a slightly different way, which can help it stick better. Being able to talk about the material shows that you really understand it. In turn, others might understand it.
If you aren’t able to find or form a study group that suits you–and sometimes that happens–still try to find even one other person with whom to study. If no classmates or peers work for you, remember that a tutor can be helpful too. Not only is a tutor an expert on the topic you’re studying, but often, a tutor will be able to show you a new way to see the material. I’ve lost track of the times my students have told me they “never saw it that way before!” Let me know if you want to see your schoolwork differently.