Friends: “Hey bro, we should totally study for our exam together. Let’s meet in the library tonight and pound it out.”
You: “I’m so in. For sure, guys. I’ll hit you up later” (bro handshake).
As you walk away, you think about if you really want to study with your friends. You know it will be more fun, but it might be hard to focus and your exam grade might suffer because of it.
What should you do?
After reading the rest of this post, you will be well prepared to make this decision the next time you face it.
Two Types Of Students
There are two different types of students when it comes to studying. The first type of students, maybe more introverts, always want to study alone.
These are the guys and girls that need silence to get in the zone. Or they have to listen to their own music without anyone around to get in a focused rhythm. Also in this group are the students with ADD. They can’t study well with other people because their brain will constantly jump around.
The second type of student is the opposite and studies best with others. These students know they will procrastinate if studying is only up to them. That is why they rely on their friends for accountability to study. Also, they realize they can study longer and have more fun with their friends.
I preferred to study alone because that’s what worked my freshman year and I didn’t want to risk messing it up. No type of student is better than the other though, it’s just personal preference.
However, there are certain classes where group studying can be more beneficial for college students than studying alone, no matter your personality type.
Group Studying Is More Effective In Certain Classes
So, in general, for exams that require memorization I recommend studying alone.
However, group studying is more beneficial for classes that require significant problem-solving, such as math, statistics, finance, accounting, computer science, and engineering.
When students work together in these subjects to discuss homework problems, try different approaches, and explain correct solutions, they improve their learning.
This is because many times other students will give a different perspective that will help you better conceptualize the information. Or you will learn a more efficient way to solve the problem.
Plus, studying with classmates can make the work more engaging, which increases your productivity.
But, with all these advantages listed, don’t let group studying turn into a major distraction.
Three Deadly Mistakes Of Studying With Others
If you are going to study with other classmates, please don’t commit a deadly mistake that can cause you to fail your exam.
1. Thou shalt not study with those who don’t have an exam. Joining your friend who only has one assignment that will take ten minutes, is bad news for your hours of exam prep. You know once they are done with their assignment, they are going to be distraction city for you.
2. Thou shalt not study to flirt. See a hot girl or guy in your class and think studying with them will be the kickstart to your hookup or romantic relationship? Think again, and simply hang out with them after the exam to celebrate finishing it.
3. Thou shalt not study with the clueless classmate. The purpose of group studying is to share what you know, and take the knowledge of others. It’s a fair trade and each party comes out better prepared for the exam.
But, studying with the clueless person who asks rapid fire questions because they don’t know anything will only waste your time and cause crucial interruptions. That’s not a team player, so stay away for the sake of your grade. (This same advice applies to the person who talks about anything but the exam and won’t shut up.)
So, should you study with your friend or study alone?
To summarize, follow these two steps:
- Identify if the exam requires heavy memorization or problem-solving. If it’s memorization, then you will probably want to study alone. And if it’s problem solving, then a group can help you.
- If you do join in group studying, make sure you don’t commit any of the deadly mistakes in the section above.
If you don’t know if you study better by yourself or with others, I encourage you to try both to see how it goes for you.
Readers, do you study better with others or alone? Would you agree or disagree that group studying is more valuable for certain classes?