How to Form a Study Group

Sometimes studying by yourself can be very hard, especially when dealing with an unfamiliar subject. It's very possible that a variety of different people understand different aspects of the material slightly better. Pooling together these resources and forming a study group can make life easier while increasing the odds of success on an upcoming exam.


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    Find your group: a good start is talking to the person sitting next to you. If you don't know them start by introducing yourself and ask how they are finding the class, then you can lead on naturally to asking if they'd like to study with you. Odds are they'll know someone else who want to join in too.
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    Beware of keeping your group to a good size. For a weekly study group more than 6 people is unlikely to be very efficient (and hard to schedule!). In exams times a larger group can work well as a one-off.
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    Make a study space. Look for a place with the least amount of distractions. The school library is a good starting point so long as other people don't interrupt. However they may operate a silence policy. Look for the group-study area, a cafe or book a classroom.
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    Plan out what you are going to study. Ideally start by keeping up with the course reviewing each class weekly. Consulting an old study guide from a past exam can also be useful. It may be easier to split up the varying material amongst group members that have particular specialties, i.e. splitting up chapters or take turns weekly.
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    Connect with your fellow students and professors online. There's a variety of different resources such as Course Hero that facilitate the exchange of study resources both old and new. Many courses will also have facebook groups and if yours don't you can always create one.
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    At any rate make sure you and your group have exchanged contact details so you can reach each other.
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    Ask questions, discuss and debate subject matter at length. Having the ability to talk about a given subject and speak knowledgeably about it will improve your memory come test time.
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    Quiz each other. Make mock test questions that may be on the test or quiz. Try to keep each other sharp and informed about what you read.


  • Try not to form a group with just your friends - odds are it will turn into a gossip session/joking around instead.
  • Do the homework first and begin with the toughest subject matter. If you are really stuck one of you can email the lecturer and then forward the answer to the rest of the group.
  • Try having one or two people teach a subject to the rest of the group. It is recommended that it is a subject the person struggles with, since you remember 95% of what you teach.
  • In exam times it can be good work on essay outlines together or play a game of "Jeopardy"
  • If the assigned readings are big let each person do the foundational bits and divide the extras (academic discussion etc) among each other. Present the key points of your section at the session.
  • During exams you can increase your group to a large number i.e. by merging with another group for one-off study session where you either focus on going through a past paper or particular areas. A fresh perspective can be great!


  • It's important that everyone keeps up with the reading, watch out for free-riders. The point of a study group is to cooperate and learn together.
  • Look out for the off-topic effect - let someone take charge each week to avoid unnecessary goofing around.
  • Don't procrastinate, set a weekly time and place and stick to it.
  • Respect your teacher's policy as to what assignments have to be completed individually. You may score a 0 or be suspended/subject to disciplinary action otherwise.

Things You'll Need

  • At least one student from your class
  • A suitable meeting place (see above)
  • A course plan/outline so you know what to learn

Article Info

Categories: College and University Study Techniques