I know. Whether you want to study or not, assignment deadlines and test dates don’t give you much of a choice. But studying doesn’t have to be a solitary confinement sentence. You have the freedom to mix things up every so often—to get those neurons firing, to live life to the fullest! You have the freedom to have a study party!
No? Not feeling the enthusiasm yet? Check out these five perks of studying in a group:
1. You can learn concepts you wouldn’t have studied otherwise
You know when you’re sitting in class, and suddenly you realize that you certainly don’t know what the teacher just said for the last two minutes (or was it ten?) because your consciousness was whisked away by forces beyond your control—like thoughts, or daydreams, or maybe actual dreams?
Well, when studying in a group, you can check with others about those details you missed. And by the end of the session, you may even end up learning something you did have notes on but wouldn’t have studied because it didn’t seem important, only to find it later on the test. Score!
Not to mention, in an interactive group, it’ll be way easier to fend off those sneaky little mental distractions.
2. You can learn more effectively and quickly
Even when you are fully focused, maybe you’ve encountered a concept that, despite hearing the teacher explain it twice and consulting the textbook thrice, is just not computing in your brain? Hearing classmates with new perspectives and communication styles explain the concept might just be the on switch for that stubborn mental light bulb.
Should you find yourself a bit pressed for time, group study can also help you learn faster. If each group member summarizes the concepts he or she knows best, you can pick up key points without having to reread and synthesize heaps of notes and book chapters again.
3. You can learn by teaching
You’ll not only have the opportunity to learn from others but also from yourself. Teaching is widely recognized as a superb way to learn and has even been scientifically studied. Explaining concepts and answering others’ questions can solidify what you know and illuminate what you don’t.
Author Annie Murphy Paul explains further in this Time.com article:
"Students enlisted to tutor others, these researchers have found, work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively. In what scientists have dubbed ‘the protégé effect,’ student teachers score higher on tests than pupils who are learning only for their own sake."
So be as generous as you want with your knowledge!
4. Groups can increase your motivation to study
You’ve probably noticed procrastination and lack of motivation can be really good at keeping you from your tasks. One way to keep on track is (you guessed it) to meet for a study group session! You will then be motivated in two ways. One, you’ll be extra-motivated to review the material by the time of the meet-up, since arriving unprepared to a study group will make it hard to keep up with and contribute to the discussion. It’s like a pre-deadline to study for an exam. And two, when other people are expecting you to be somewhere, and you’re not wanting to miss a grade-boosting opportunity, you’ll be more likely to show up, therefore prioritizing studying again.
(When you are on your own, and if you find yourself distracted, refer to this post on how to deal with procrastination and distraction.)
5. It's fun!
Lastly, the best reason for group study—and the reason I hope you do most of what you do—is to have fun! Study groups are a great way to get to know classmates and bond over shared experiences, strategizing, quizzing each other, coming up with mnemonics. I mean, what’s really the difference between that and having a game night? Okay, one helps you keep up your GPA, but other than that?
Kiley A. teaches SAT/ACT Writing and leads College Application Workshops at Elite Prep Rowland Heights. As the Elite Community Scholars Coordinator, he also works to spread this college preparation guidance to low-income, first-generation students who may not otherwise have access to such support. Above all, he wants his students to know the far-reaching power of their own self-assurance.