I love to study in groups–especially before an exam.
The only problem is that if you don’t have the right people in your group, you can end up wasting a lot of time. And that’s not helpful for anyone.
Here are some tips to help you avoid goofing off when studying in a group:
Find the Right Students
There are many ways to stay productive during a group discussion, but it all starts with finding the right people. I recommend selecting the members for your group yourself. You know who in your class participates in class discussions. You know who seems to be serious about their education. It’s those people that you want to join your group. The more motivated everyone is, the better off you’ll be. I know it’s fun to join a group with a bunch of friends, but those are the types of groups where it’s easy to goof around and not study productively.
Limit Your Group to Under Six Students
The larger the group, the more difficult it can be to keep everyone focused. If the group begins to grow for some reason, I recommend splitting everyone up into groups of 5 or 6. I tend to find that small group sizes work better together.
Set an Agenda
Once everyone arrives for your study group, decide on a quick agenda (if it makes sense). An agenda will keep everyone focused on what’s ahead, and what they should be concentrating on. Set approximate time lengths for each item, and try to assign various tasks for each person (depending on what you’re studying). Sticking to an agenda is a key to good productivity.
Discuss Class Notes
If everyone is studying for a particular test, have everyone make copies of their class notes. Everyone takes notes differently, and it’s helpful to look at a range of notes from different student perspectives. Everyone will benefit from seeing everyone’s notes. This could also spark some great discussions on areas that should get studied.
Discuss Possible Test Questions
Tell everyone in your group to bring a list of questions they think might be on the test. These questions are a great way to get the group’s mental juices going. If possible, email your professor or teacher’s assistant ahead of time to get a list of areas to focus on. All the questions brought to the group are a great way to keep everyone thinking about the exam. It will also highlight particular areas that need more attention.
Everyone Should Teach
Some students are going to understand test material much better than others. If it makes sense to the group, have each person talk about the particular area they know very well. Have them explain what they understand about the particular topic, and have them field questions from the group.
What are some ways you keep your study group productive?
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