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Study Group Guide

Want to find others who are studying in the same courses as you?  Don't want to study and learn information on your own or alone? Consider organizing a study group. 

There are many different ways to form study groups.  You can talk with people in your class, and try to gauge interest.  If you are too shy, or unable to do this, you can ask your instructor to announce that someone would like to form a study group, and mention that any interested parties should remain after class.  You can also talk to Angela Street in Learning Support Services; she can assist in arranging study groups in different classes, and is always willing to do classroom presentations.

  • You can often learn better by working in a group than you can alone.  Remember—you never truly learn something until you have the opportunity to teach it!
  • The commitment to working with others may help motivate you to complete reading and do homework assignments regularly
  • You can ask questions in a non-threatening, peer environment
  • They work well for people who are too shy to ask questions in class
  • You can develop and refine important teamwork skills
  • Learn how to problem solve!
  • Meet and get to know new people
  • Guaranteed study time
  • Boost your confidence

Don’t let anyone dominate the session.  You should keep one another on task (i.e. no visiting until you get some actual work done…), but no one should be doing all of the talking.  Take turns facilitating discussion, especially if you have a dominant personality.

Be Honest with one another.  If the group dynamics just aren’t there, talk to one another.  Is there something you can do to fix it?

Stay on Task. It often happens that Study Groups become Social Groups.  Remember, they were originally formed for studying, so this should come first.

Talk.  If no one seems to be interacting well, talk to one another.  Are you all introverts?  No problem.  Structure your time, and work within that structure.  Begin by going over the past lectures, and ask questions as they come up.  Pool questions together on a piece of paper, and answer them as they come up. There are many things you can do—see Sara for more suggestions.  Silence can be key (think time, people!), but you don’t want it to be the only thing.

Respect Learning Styles. Some folks need to think out loud—others need quiet reflection before they want to say anything.  Some want to hear information, whereas others would rather see it.  Respect one another’s styles, and share what works best for you.

Don’t form a study group because you have to.  Study groups are for your benefit—if you dread going and it’s something that you hate doing, you won’t get much out of it.

Arrangement. Arrange yourselves so you can make eye contact with every member of the group.  Circles work very well for this!

Numbers. Try not to exceed 6 people.  Not only does scheduling become an issue, but you begin presenting information to a crowd, instead of sharing knowledge in an intimate group setting.

Listen carefully, and show respect.  Try not to interrupt other members.

Do not accept confusion. 

If you do not understand the information presented by the group, do not let them continue until you understand.  Also, if someone else does not understand the information, don’t let the group move on until that person understands.

Try to think out loud. 

Let the group know where you are going with points and problems.  It could be that you understand the first part of a concept, and someone else could jump in and explain the second part.

Get Clarification. 

If something was confusing, ask someone to paraphrase or re-explain.


Using the correct terminology is important in any discipline.  Avoid using words like “thingy” and “whatsit.”  If you can say it, you are one step closer to understanding it.


Rework and go over your notes before each study group meeting.  Your time will be much better spent if everyone knows what content was covered in class.


Read the book (if there is one), and work on homework before coming to the study group.  If everyone has had a chance to work on material, you will get more accomplished as a group.

Do everything. 

Although it may be tempting to split up assignments, or sections of the chapter, don’t.  Attempt everything on your own.  It may take more time for you individually, but you will learn the material better in the end.  You also are less likely to run the risk of violating the Academic Honesty Policy.

  • At the first meeting, get to know one another.  Make sure each person knows (and can pronounce) all members’ names.  Exchange phone numbers and email addresses, and learn the best way to contact one another.  Choose a meeting time and place—try to meet at the same time and place each week.  Doing so forms consistency, and you are less apt to forget, or cancel.
  • Get to know one another—learn majors, likes, dislikes—whatever.  Study groups are a great place to meet people, and possibly form bonds that last long after graduation.
  • Decide on a goal.  What is the main purpose of your group?  Will you be going over new material, or working on problems and assignments together?
  • Establish what you are going to do at that meeting
  • Review lecture notes and go over things that your group members may not have understood
  • Work on assignments, or extra problems for practice
  • Study for exams and tests—predict test format and questions
  • Go over past exams, quizzes, assignments.  Does everyone understand them?
  • Summarize (briefly) what you covered, and make a goal for the next meeting
  • Take turns quizzing one another on material.
  • Combine all of your notes from lecture to create a set of “Master Notes.”
  • When everything else has been accomplished, take some time to discuss anything other than your class

See the “Where to Study at Edgewood College” handout.  Talk to Sara Anderson for details.

  • Verify difficult concepts with other group members
  • Dialogue with classmates, and feel less isolated in the material and classroom
  • Be encouraged (or encourage) other classmates
  • Learning is more fun when shared with someone else
  • Retention is higher when working in groups
  • Learn new study habits from peers
  • Increase your confidence by knowing that people rely on you for information