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How to make the most of your study group

1. Form an effective study group. A study group will be most effective if it is comprised of people who are all committed to achieving a good grade. An ideal study group should have between three and five members who meet for between one and three hours. Study sessions less than an hour are likely to be rushed. If the study session is too long, productivity tends to drop and members of the group may lose focus.

2. Show up prepared. Each member should come to the group prepared. Before attending your group session, you should be familiar with the material and you should know what areas you are having difficulty with.

3. Stay organized and focused. This tip may be obvious, but staying organized and focused can be challenging when working with a group. There should be a group leader. In many cases, the person who started the study group and/or invited others to the study group is the leader of that session.

4. Pick a format for your group study session. A study group session will be much more effective if you know ahead of time what you plan to cover in that session and in what order you will cover it. Here are a few ideas for how you can structure your group study session:

  • Use a study guide given to you by your professor as a guide for that session.

  • Use study questions found at the end of chapters in your text book.

  • If you have multiple chapters to review, or multiple topics to cover, you could assign each person in the group specific topics or chapters to present to the group.

  • Go around the room to each person and ask each person what they would like to discuss or what they would like more help with. This concept of going around the room is a bit informal but it also provides some structure and it gives each person a chance to both contribute and to seek help.

These are just a few examples of approaches you can take. Choose a format that is appropriate for what you are trying to achieve with the group study session.

5. Pick an appropriate meeting place. There are several places such as libraries and park to be considered. Reservations can be made through the library's website by hovering over the “Services” tab, and then selecting “Schedule a Room”.

Additional things to consider:

  • Bring your notes. This will give you the option of comparing your notes to other people in the study group.

  • Make great use of your time in the study session.

  • Take breaks at scheduled intervals. Planning a 10-minute break halfway through your study session, for example, can help minimize interruptions caused by people getting up to get a beverage or to make a trip to the restroom.

  • Do a quick “review” or “wrap-up” at the end of the study session to recap on what was covered. Plan this during the last ten or fifteen minutes of the review session. Anticipate that there may be some questions or somebody may need some additional help on a specific problem or topic.

  • And remember, stay focused!

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