The Pros and Cons of Study Groups

People’s study habits are as unique as the person themselves. Some studiers like music, background noise, food and their own rooms, while others need silence, libraries and no distractions. When you start college, there will be more studying than ever before in your life. And discovering the best way you study is as important as passing your English exam. The right study habits and environment can set the tone for your brain to soak up as much information as possible.

The adage "two heads are better than one" is popular for a reason. With more than one person working to solve a problem, their combined intellect doubles the chances for a positive outcome. The same is true in study groups. When students are working on complex material, having more than one person present may be very beneficial. If one individual is struggling, another student can explain the material in a new way and offer suggestions the first student may not have previously considered. Also, when a person is explaining or teaching an idea, it requires them to actively think through the problem and turn memorized information into practical terminology. There is also the element of sharing notes with other students. If you missed an important lecture or would like another student’s perspective on a particular class, exchanging notes is a great practice in study groups.

But there are also disadvantages to joining a study group as well. The adage "too many chefs spoil the pot" implies the notion that too many people and too many opinions can ruin a good thing. This is also true with study groups. With a larger group of people comes a wider array of opposing personalities. This can lead to arguing amongst group members and not making any progress with the study material. Study groups can also require a much greater time commitment from members. Because the group only moves at the pace of the slowest member, it might take twice as long to cover the material as studying alone would.

As with everything in life, the only way to discover your best study environment is to try all possibilities. Join a study group on a temporary basis, and then try studying by yourself. Whichever style allows you to understand the material the best, is the one you should stick with.

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