If you’re more ‘lone wolf’ than ‘team effort’ when it comes to exam prep, there’s a solid chance you’re missing out on some pretty nifty benefits that group study offers. With the holidays approaching, you may be worried that a group dynamic might be too competitive or the session won’t be productive enough, but done right, study groups can be a huge boost to your revision time.
For starters, studying with friends helps you interact with the content better than you would independently. Which basically means, when you teach someone else something, or when you’re quizzed by others, or have a friend explain something to you in a different way you make the information your own (rather than just pages in a textbook) and are therefore wayyy more likely to understand and remember it 🤓. It’s the difference between thinking you’ve memorised the first chapter of your Chemistry textbook and actually having to explain those concepts to someone.
It also gives you the priceless opportunity of figuring out what you don’t know (which is * probably * handy to know before you’re sat in the exam hall), so you can target those areas and sleep easy at night knowing you haven’t somehow skipped a whole topic.
Plus, everybody has their individual talents and unique ways of understanding and remembering the content, so why not share those around and cash in on everything you learn in exchange.
So without further ado, here’s our top tips to hack your study group:
Make it VIP
Keep it small, this is a study group not a social event. We reckon 3-5 people who are all committed to a common goal (aka getting those good grades) should do the trick. This means picking people who will be effective revision partners, not just for their snack game. 🤪
Designate a group leader
Not to be all Lord of the Flies, but crowning a session ‘guru’ is key to keeping you focused and on schedule. The leader can rotate each meeting so no need to fight over the baton. Which brings us nicely to the next tip…
Pick a plan and stick to it
No point rocking up and winging it. Get a WhatsApp group set up, name it appropriately (we like “BAe Levels”) and decide the topics you are going to cover BEFORE you meet. Be sure not to take too much material for one session though. Stick to either: one or two particular topics, the study questions in the back of your textbook, one practice paper, or a revision guide given to you by your teacher. Whatever you do, pick a format and stick to it (looking at you group leader).
Show up prepared
Everyone should be familiar with the material before the session, that way each person knows what area they are having difficulty with and equally those that they are strong in. Get to the session with a few areas of confusion you need clarifying and an area which you feel confident explaining to others.
Schedule a time period
1 hour is likely too short and by 3 chances are you’ve consumed enough chocolate to feed a small town and you have zero to minimum idea of what’s going on. Stick to anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, and make sure the group leader keeps to that time.
Use each other’s strengths
What may seem utterly baffling to you, might be fairly obvious to someone else. Use your group time to teach others the content you feel strong in and learn from others what you really don’t get. Vocalizing your knowledge clearly to a mate so that they understand will actually solidify your understanding of the content too, and chances are you will be surprised at how much you already know.
Wrap it up effectively
Set aside the last fifteen minutes to do a quick recap of what was covered. Pay attention to this because the best thing you can take out of a group study session is a list of what you DON’T KNOW YET. This is actual gold dust because once you know where your weak areas are, you can spend more time going over these topics. After the session, work out an action plan on how to tackle these areas. If there’s a few of you at the end with similar weak spots, schedule another session to cover them, or even jump onto an Atomi video (https://learn.getatomi.com/register/uk) for a quick recap and if all else fails then don’t be afraid to approach your teacher. They’re more than willing to help out.
Make it fun (or as fun as possible)
In this never-ending lead up to May (😓), revising by yourself can leave you feeling more brain dead than prepared. Revising in a group is a really easy way to break that monotony, so make sure you’re as vocal as possible during the session. Quiz each other, plan mini presentations, think up ridiculous mnemonics (like acronyms), appoint a ‘teacher’ for each topic and take bags full of snacks – because brain food.