The Benefits of a Study Buddy
By: Jacob Graham
Throughout the past few years of my undergrad I have tried various approaches to studying and preparing for exams. Some methods have worked much better than others. Admittedly, attempting to cram a whole semester’s worth of information into my brain the night before so that I would “remember it better” was not the greatest idea. My much wiser third-year self finally thinks I have it all figured out: study groups (with only the occasional all-nighter cramming session).
Study groups can sometimes get a bad rep for being distracting and unproductive for students. While this might be true in some cases, if done correctly the overall benefits of working in a group greatly exceed the downfalls. Firstly, study groups allow students to play off of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know something, chances are that someone else in your group does. This allows you to fill any gaps in your knowledge while giving them the chance to solidify theirs. This leads into another benefit or working in a group: learning by teaching. When you are teaching a concept to another student who may be struggling, if forces you to reframe and simplify the ideas for their understanding. Not only does this help your peer but ensures your own comprehension of the topic too. Giving meaning to a topic is what allows you to encode it from your short-term into your long-term memory!
To prevent your study group from becoming an unproductive chatter-fest, follow these tips to ensure everyone gets the most out of the experience:
Choose a group of people that you are comfortable enough to ask question to, but will not veer off topic from course content. This is essential, as you don’t want the precious time you have before your exam to go to waste.
Create a predetermined schedule that everyone agrees to follow. This is especially helpful during COVID, as it helps maintain structure when you feel like you are drowning in an endless ocean of discussion board posts.
Split up the work. Assign equal sections of course content to each person for which they will be responsible for creating summarized notes for everyone to utilize. This will lower your workload as well as keep you accountable to get work done in a timely manner.
MAKE IT VIRTUAL! In these times, it is of the utmost importance to ensure we are staying safe. By moving your study group to Zoom, you ensure everyone feels comfortable while helping to prevent the spread.
Enjoy yourself! This should not be something that you dread doing. Make sure you remember to have fun and make the most out of what little (virtual) social interaction we have these days. If you enjoy session with your study group, you will get much more value from it than otherwise.
While this may not be the study style for everyone (and that’s ok!), this is a great study method to try if you are lost on how to approach exam preparation in university. Although pulling an all-nighter may seem like a rite of passage for a university student, learn from my mistakes and take a different approach!