I went through most of my undergrad studying on my own. I was busy and I worked full time. And the real reason was I didn’t see the point in study groups. It sounded like a distraction to me and a waste of time when I had no time to waste. But let me tell you… I was a fool.
In one of my last semesters I was taking a Russian Lit course and we had to know not only entire passages in our head to quote in the essay but also an insane array of facts that I was sure were impossible to even collect from the texts. I was at a loss. The girl sitting next to me, bless her heart, invited me to study with her and her friends. Probabably because she could sense my rising level of anxiety. I went because I would have tried just about anything at that point. I’d say it changed my life, and at the very least it improved my study habits.
A well-devised study group is like a think-tank-learning-machine that quadruples your effectiveness and brain power. However, there is always the danger that it will quickly dissolve into chaos or even more likely never even launch you into any studying to begin with. So, here are a few things to do to ensure you and your people are well prepared ad stay on track:
1. Keep it simple. The best size for a study group is 5-7 people.
2. Have a leader. Be the leader. It’s kind of like a band. Even though you all have to work together, it works best if someone designates parts and jobs throughout the group. If you’re kind of a control freak, like me, I’d recommend making a spreadsheet of everything that needs to be covered. Break it down into chapters or whatever makes the most sense.
3. Designate the first hour or so to silently hunting down your required information. Breaking up the work like this into the searching phase gives you more time to actually study.
4. Share what you found. A good way to share the info: flashcards. Everyone makes a set using their info and sets them around the room. Move around and play with a set until you’ve absorbed at least half of the information. Another good option is to have a teaching sesh. Each of you gets up and teaches your section while everyone else takes specific notes for themselves. Both the process of teaching and the note taking are good ways to store information.
5. Have snacks and caffeine. Always. And then have more.
6. Observe silent time. Every hour or so everyone should hush and work on their own, this will realign focus.
7. Also observe break time. Take breaks, you aren’t training for the Olympics.
8. Have a cumulative activity. Quickly create a little quiz of the most essential information, even if you yourself don’t know all the answers. It’s not about getting them right but rather checking yourself against all the information you’ve absorbed to see where you still need to focus.
9. Keep a light at the end of the tunnel. The best way to focus is knowing you will be rewarded. End the night with a round of drinks, a movie, or pizza delivery.
10. Don’t stress. I know it’s almost impossible, but the world keeps turning no matter how this test goes. I promise!
See if there are vinas in your classes who need study buddies and get to it. We believe in you, good luck!!
(Featured image via studyingzoneonly.tumblr.com)