It will be around this time in the year when students need to start looking at their study sessions and time schedules.  January was fun, February was an introduction and March allowed you to understand your workload.  It is this very workload that needs to be addresses. Making a study timetable is the first step, but actually keeping to the timetable and keeping to your study sessions are an entirely different story.  Luckily study groups can be the answer to many of your study related problems.

The advantages of Study Groups

Study groups allow and force you:

  • To keep and stay on top of your study sessions
  • To ensure you understand what you are learning  
  • To have the opportunity to learn from others
  • To cover more study material as a group compared to as an individual
  • To build confidence within your support/study group, it’s important


How to form a study group

It is important that you focus on the final goal of any study group, that being to learn effectively and efficiently.  It is for this reason that you want to be careful of filling your study group with friends only.  Having a friend is a good idea, especially if you struggle with social engagements.  But ensure you have the majority of your study friends as students that will take the group seriously and not just come and go as they so choose.  

Study groups are extremely effective, but only if they are taken seriously and conducted regularly with a key focus every time.

  • How many: 3-6 Students,  you want to make sure everyone knows each other and engage with each other (all) on a regular basis.
  • Who:  Find the note takes.
  • Duration:  Keep them focused with 2-3 hour sessions
  • When:  If possible keep the study session on the same day at the same time every week.  This will ensure that your study group is treated similarly to a class, enforcing the importance of the group.
  • Where:  Make sure you do it in a non distracting location.  In front of the TV is not an option, nor  the student lounge.  Many of the varsities have small study rooms at the library, see if yours have them too.


Managing a successful Study Group

1. Basic Rules to keep order and structure.

There doesn’t have to be anything as formal as a group leader, but consider the actions to be taken with a member that slacks of one too many times.  Consider how beverages will be handled.  Basic guidelines so that everyone can be on the same page.


2. State the objectives for every study session and for the upcoming session.

Knowing what you want to achieve in a study session will help keep the group on target and prevent losing track of time.

Remember that these group works best when approached with a clear mind of study determination

3. Be prepared for your study group

Being unprepared isn’t only frustrating to you but to every other member that did prepare.  It is essential that you did your homework before the group starts.   Study groups are great to compare notes, gather your thought, find new perspective on the topics and build confidence in the field.  This is if they are taken seriously and are prepared for every time.

4.Communicate with all the members in the group.

By keeping the group small you will be able to get to know every member in your study group.  It’s important that you get all their perspectives and check all their notes.  This undoubtedly will lead to some confusion and even disagreements within the field of study. For these disagreed upon points it would be suggested to make a note and ask the prof at the beginning/end of the next class.

If you have a shy member try and help them out by approaching them rather.

Study groups are a great way to get your studies under control.  It has been shown that those who participate in regular study groups tend to do far better than those choosing to study on their own.  Study groups keeps you focused, encourages you to study longer, while not feeling frustrated and alone.  Consider starting a study group with everyone of your subjects, even if some of them are simply to compare notes and assignments.  Starting early in the year will ensure end semester fly by without a panic attack;)

Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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