Study groups can make the most daunting tasks seem more manageable. However, working with friends comes with complications. Before forming a study group, you should think about the pros and cons.
Being alone in a quiet place might be boring, but it’s a good environment for quickly drilling all of those facts into your head. Study groups are typically easily distracted, which could make it take longer to actually learn the information. If you’re in a time-crunch, a study group might not be a practical option.
On the other hand, studying together a few days before a test can be very beneficial. Even better, look over the information before you meet with the group, and pick out a few important questions that need answering. A friend might know the answer. Also, sometimes even just hearing the way someone else sees a difficult topic makes it easier to understand. It could also be that your study mates asked the professor or a TA for help on a concept that you also struggle with.
Really, who you choose to study with is more important than deciding to study in a group. If your friends are dedicated students and actually want to sit down and study hard, a group study session can be incredibly productive. You can take turns quizzing one another, which is more fun than flashcard quizzes. You can also try explaining concepts in conversational terms that are easier to remember than textbook definitions. If your friends don’t really want to study, though, it probably wouldn’t be much help to get them all in a room together. An open textbook is just as easy to ignore as a closed one.
Another potential factor to consider is whether the test is curved. Are you usually the curve breaker? Is your friend? Studying with a curve breaker can be useful if your friend is willing to share how she always seems to get an A. However, there are a lot of reasons for her to stay quiet when tests are curved. Don’t get too frustrated with your ultra studious friend. Discretion can be just as important as knowledge at times.
Ultimately, group studying is a more fun way to get through an often tedious task. But it usually works better as a supplement rather than a substitute for individual study time.