Why Study Groups Don’t Work

Study groups seem like the perfect way to prepare for a test: students can exchange notes, discuss lectures and collaborate on homework. But in reality, this “perfect way” has flaws that completely discredit it. Students with upcoming exams would be wise to resist the study group, and here’s why.

They meet once.
When deciding on a time to meet, most groups choose the night before the test. Once this time is established, students will put off all studying until then. Consequently, less studying is accomplished and the group turns into a desperate cram session.

The location is bad.
Unless you reserve a study room, the group will generally meet in a public place full of distractions. The coffee shop is one of the worst places to study, yet the most popular area for students to meet. They are busy, noisy and will turn every member of the group into a caffeinated spaz.

The “good” students don’t show up.
These are the students who pay attention in class, take good notes and do all of the homework. They would be extremely valuable to the group if they came, but they don’t. They realize that the group has nothing to offer that they don’t already know.

They become social gatherings.
After the initial meet-and-greet, the group may start studying, but the discussion will eventually go into conversations about the teacher, the weather, the city and how espresso machines work. When faced with new people, we can’t control our instincts to make friends and get acquainted.

Misery and misinformation abound.
Without the aforementioned “good” students, the study group is made up of those who want to socialize, don’t come to class, or those worried about the test and confused with the material. If any information is shared, it may be incorrect.

You don’t take the test as a group.
Even if your group manages to discuss class material and quiz each other on possible exam questions, the fact that there are three or four other brains involved may trick you into thinking that you know more than you actually do.

They are unorganized.
Without a definite leader or direction, study groups quickly become inefficient and unorganized. In the end, you’ll find yourself driving home having wasted several hours and absorbed next to no information.

While some students find study groups helpful, it would be better to avoid them. Studying is a personal examination of what one does and doesn’t know, and in a group of dissimilar students, this doesn’t translate well. If you do decide to attend a study group, don’t let it undermine your normal study habits. And if you are worried about a test, set up a meeting with your professor.

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