The Ultimate Guide To Study In A Group

the ultimate guide to study in a group

5 Seconds Summary:

Study in a group have a few advantages such as eliminate procrastination and make us accountable to study. The depth of understanding also can be improve by discussion. The problem is many of us are not sure on how to create the effective study group session. Just follow this 5 simple step : Find the right people, have a proper mindset, set appropriate rules, do own review post discussion and reflection.

“If everyone is moving forward together , then success takes care of itself”

-Henry Ford

Imagine yourself sitting in front of a pile of books not knowing where to begin your revision

As you glanced on the calendar you noticed the exam is creeping in a few months

What do I do! What do I do!

The internal scream for help turns you into a panic mode

The next thing you know, you cave in and watch the movie to calm yourself down as a form of coping mechanism

It’s too late anyway, I will start studying earlier next semester

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.

Probably majority of the students encounter the same problem. The issue is when you try to do everything on your own and it felt like a burden. It seems like you don’t have enough time to study.

The simple solution to this.

Create your own study group

But every time, I suggest to my students to create their own study group, they shrugged.

And being young and angsty, they did what they did best

They complained.

And they listed 1001 problems with the study group in a nice, whingy language.

Not gonna lie, I also have the same perception before.

Let’s start with the most core.

What is the problem with studying in a group?

The common problem in a study group

  1. Cannot control the environment: They feel unproductive and have a lot of distractions: some might talk a lot about another thing that causes lack of focus and waste time
  2. Personality conflicts: Some might feel superior with their knowledge and try to control the discussion
  3. Freeloader or slacker in the group: The one who barely do anything but wants to be fed with everything
  4. Lack of confidence: Have trouble even answering basic yes or no questions.
  5. Logistic issue: No place to do the discussion

Once identified the common problem with a study group, it’ll be easier to find the solution to it.

If you notice, majority of the problem stem into one theme: The member of the study group

The thing is in the class when we are paired or put into a group, we get bunched with several people that we even barely know them.

There’s no dynamic and all interaction oozes with awkwardness.

So to create your own study group, be selective of who you want in your group.

This brings me to my next point,

Why do you need a study group in the first place?

Is it better that I study alone, I can get more things done in a short time?

I don’t have to interact with people

The advantages of a study group

#1 Creates accountability and eliminates procrastination

I think the greatest advantage of studying in a group is it creates accountability and eliminates procrastination

Because we do what people surrounding us do.

When we have planned to study together, there is less chance to procrastinate because of course we are scared of people’s judgment. So, we show up even though we don’t feel like it.

The truth is, you can’t study only when you feel like it.

You must be consistent about it.

Indirectly, our study group becomes our accountability partner.

#2 Share ideas, thought, tips and tricks

Learning is more fun when you know how to do it.

Rather than consuming information, the application of the facts is equal if not much more important.

And this, you can’t get this from a book.

This requires discussion.

The analogy, the case study, the origin related to the topic you discuss

That’s why you need the study group.

And of course, with multiple people contributing to the discussion you can learn faster

#3 Getting a new perspective on the topics

When you study alone, you can only get a single perspective on the topic.

Is the way you understand a thing is correct? Or skewed?

Well, we never know. Not unless when you start answering the exam question.

The discussion in the study group helped develop your critical and analytical thinking skills. Because you keep questioning, answering, and thinking.

And when you are wrong somebody can help point it out and explain it back to you

Isn’t it nice?

It’s like having a nice, free private tutor

will study in a group help in academic performance?

Research have shown different result in showing the relation between having a study group and their academic performance

some shows, study group improve the academic performance, and some don’t really see any much different with those who study solo.

It’s all related with the type of exam question like multiple choice or essay.

But do you prefer to stuck in the room for hours trying to understand everything?

or spend time discussing, have some overview & understanding about the topic and called it a day?

I prefer the second one, no doubt.

Once understand the concept, studying alone will become way easier

The best of both worlds, self-study and study group.

Here is the problem.

You tend to view this as all or none. Like you have to choose either to study alone or study in a group.

Well honey, do both.

On the nature of the topic

Use study group to emphasize your understanding further by discussing and understanding an overview of the topic

And study alone for the part that requires detailed attention. The detail,  nitty-gritty of it.

On the peak performance

Use the peak time of your day where you are able to focus to study alone

and use the time where the energy and the ability to concentrate is less for discussion in a group.


Word of caution

The study group is not where you bring the lecture material you get from your Prof and start narrating like it’s some sort of bedtime story.

No. no one is testing your reading ability

Don’t waste your time doing it.

What you should discuss is the question, way to understand the topic, how to approach the topic…not narrate again and again while drawing the exact same figure your tutor/prof did in class


Guide to create an effective study group session

Now, you are interested in the concept of studying in a group?


Let’s dive right in

Step 1: have the correct mindset

To be specific, your expectation of the study group

Having a correct mindset is essential to prevent you from getting too hopeful or frustrated with your study group members.

That’s the danger of expectation, it sucks out the joy of it.


  • Know that the study group is not going to replace the individual revision.
  • Aware that the group discussion entails understanding the concepts of the topic and not the detailed nitty-gritty of it.
  • Understand that the ability of each member differs, so don’t get bitter if the member performs better despite studying everything together.
  • Openness is crucial. Be okay with criticism. We don’t have to be right all the time, you know
  • Don’t get stuck in thinking too much about the study group. Know it’s just one approach to understand the subject.


Step 2: find your members

Find 2-3 people that can work well with you.

People you think are comfortable to discuss and open for criticism.

And make sure everyone is aware of step 1

What is everybody’s expectation of the study group?

If you are still unsure, just wing it. And see how it goes after the first session

Step 3 Set rule

I think this is the most important is to set the rule that is agreeable for all

Here are some ideas:

  1. No phones, no discussion on unrelated things
  2. Set timer to know the limit. Don’t exceed the time of discussion unnecessarily.
  3. Rotate the main person to sort of chair the discussion. This to avoid the “ I don’t know, you start..” type of conversation.
  4. Identify the main focus of the topic to discuss discussion.
  5. Review the timetable, plan ahead what you going to discuss for the next 2 weeks. Just 2-3 times in a week, 2 hours span.

Step 4: The extra effort, for you extra people

After done with the study group, go back and review back the material again in a way of answering the question,

Must review

Sometimes during the discussion, we feel like we have understood the topic, but during the exam, we have difficulty in answering the question.

That’s the problem, you just know but don’t fully understand.

So, to make sure you understand what has been discussed in the study group, answer some question, or maybe just scribble some mind map to wrap it up


Step 5: reflections

After 3-4 session reflects on the method of discussion, what to improve, what to add, and whether it is working for everyone.

Again, the consensual agreement is the most important

Final words

There you have it, the complete guide on study in a group: the advantages and the guide on how to create the most effective study group

of course, at the end of the day, the knowledge and understanding about the subject are not only to pass the exam but to apply the knowledge when you start working.

I know it sounds cliché, but trust me, it’s the truth

The first few sessions might feel like an awkward interaction but as everyone go and contributing, you might find the charming part of studying together.

Have a try and tell me what you think about it