The Pros and Cons of Study Groups

Is studying in groups helpful, or does it slow you down? Yes… and no… to both questions.

Like anything else, studying in groups can be a good and a bad thing. Here are the pros and cons, with some tips to help you maximize the pros while you mitigate the cons:

The Pros:

Keeping you on a schedule

It’s tough to stay motivated to study, especially at times like midterms and finals when you have so many different subjects to study for and it seems like the workload never decreases no matter how long you chip away at it. Next time you feel your motivation waning, try getting a group together for a specific date and time. When other people are expecting you, it’s easier to be on time.

Gaining new perspectives and knowledge

No one has a perfect memory. But if you can’t recall that date, formula, or definition, chances are one of your study group members can. This can save you valuable time instead of having to dig through your notes or textbook.

You might also gain a new perspective on how to study – a neat flashcard app that a group member uses, a helpful mnemonic device, or a way of staying organized and tackling tasks. They might even be able to give you some feedback on your favorite.

Divide and conquer

While your group members can’t study for you, there are some boring and time-consuming tasks in the process of studying that it can be helpful to divide up. This can allow everyone in the group to save time and energy for more intense and useful tasks.

Teaching is the best way to learn

Teaching someone something else requires a high level of comprehension. You will be able to challenge your own understanding of the material when you teach it to someone else. Can you summarize The Whiskey Rebellion in two sentences? If your friend asks you about it, you’ll have to.

You’ll also benefit from the questions your group members ask you while you explain something to them. When they ask a question, it could bring up something you forgot to mention, or point out a flaw in your own reasoning. That gives you a chance to fix a mistake you might have made on the test.

Keep it light and stay sane

Sure, you don’t want your fellow group members to distract you. But at the same time, you should realize that it is helpful to take breaks and socialize a bit. Just don’t let it get out of hand.


The Cons:

It’s easy to get distracted

Some people love to chat, no matter how many times you ask them to stay on topic.

Also, maybe you have developed the self control to say no when your phone buzzes during a study session. What if 6 phones buzz at the same time, all with a Snapchat from that really funny person? Good luck staying on topic.

The group could move too fast, or too slow

If you are by far the best student in your study group, you may find yourself slowed down by having to explain concepts that you don’t need much review on. On the other hand, if you are in a group full of students more advanced than yourself, you might be eating dust and be too embarrassed to speak up. Make sure you’re in a group of your academic peers to maximize productivity.

3. You might all have the same weaknesses

One time in high school, I got a group together to study for a Latin test. The problem was, on the day the teacher taught the trickiest grammar for the test, we all left school early for a track meet and missed it. So we spent about 3 hours trying to teach ourselves from the book. We could have saved a lot of time if we had just invited someone who had been there that day. Think ahead and plan intelligently!


Ultimately, it’s up for you to decide whether group studying is right for you, and how to do it. We hope we were able to help you determine the best way for you to succeed on your midterms! Good luck!


When is the right time to start the “college” conversation?

Junior year is a tough time. Classes are harder than ever, and grades are at their most important. Students have sports, plays, music, volunteering, and a host of other activities to balance. (Not to mention prepping for the SAT or ACT, and even AP tests in the spring.) Add in a social life and personal time and it seems almost impossible to fit in eating and sleeping.

The worst part? ALL of these things are important, making it difficult for students to prioritize.

So when – and how – do you as the parent bring up perhaps the most important conversation of the year?

Your junior students are anxious about this process. Especially when their senior friends start getting their acceptance letters in the late fall.

The greatest cause of this anxiety: where do they even start? How do they take the first step in this process?

The “college conversation” – discussing a school list – will be different for every family.

During my junior year, my dad first started to broach the topic while we watched college football and basketball games. Whatever teams were playing, he would say, “What would you think about going to ____?” and give me some information about where the school was located and what it was known for: engineering, liberal arts, partying, ski slopes, etc. That gave me some understanding of what was out there school-wise.

If you do not feel like you could give your student enough info in this way, try having relatives and family friends share some pros and cons on where they went to school.

To start building a list, some families may start from the qualities the student would want in a school. Questions like “Big or small?”, “Urban, suburban, or rural?”, and “What do you want to study?” are all great starting points for college research.

And most importantly: be honest. All families have some limiting factors to deal with, whether it is geography, cost, or something else. On one hand, research a school thoroughly before tossing it aside. A school’s “sticker price” tuition is high, but maybe they give substantial merit scholarship money and need-based financial aid?

On the other hand, if a school clearly cannot be an option based on family circumstances, eliminate that option upfront. There are so many outstanding options out there that will meet all of your and your student’s criteria.

Need some help getting the college conversation started? Ivy Experience offers a College List Survey, a short quiz which will return a list of 15-30 possible match schools based on a student’s preferences and qualifications, with some info on why the match makes sense. The list is meant to serve as a starting point for a student’s college research, not a definitive list of where to apply. To request the survey, contact us today!