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How to Start a Study Group

three members of a study group gather around a laptop

Study groups are a great way to boost your understanding of a tough subject. Even Ivy League universities, like Harvard, recommend their students join study groups. If you can’t find a study group, create your own. Leading a study group can seem like a daunting task, but once you get the hang of it, it might become your favorite way to learn.

Find Study Group Members

You’ll need at least two other people to start a study group. Approach friends and classmates and ask if they’d be interested in studying together. You might look for someone who shares your study hall or is involved in the same clubs as you are. This makes it more likely that your schedules will overlap.

If your study group is focused on doing well in a particular subject, your group members will probably come from your class. For study groups focused on standardized tests, you can join up with students in other classes or even from other schools!

Three to five members is a good size for a study group. If it gets too much bigger, it’s hard to coordinate schedules and be productive.

First Meeting: Set Goals and Timelines

The first meeting sets the tone for your study group. During this meeting, discuss what everyone is looking to learn from the group. Work as a team to create a goal that suits everyone. This could be, “Get above a B+ in this class,” or “For the entire group to pass the final exam with above an 85 percent.”  

Create a timeline with deadlines such as exams, tests, or when big projects are due. Plan study group meetings around this timeline. You may usually meet weekly or every other week, but talk about whether you’d like to include extra meetings near these dates. 

Be Inclusive

Talk about everyone’s favorite study methods and ways of learning. One of the benefits of a study group is that you can learn study techniques from each other. Work together to develop ways you can accommodate everyone’s learning style and help each other succeed.

You may think of yourself as the leader, because the group was your idea. Remember that great leaders listen to their team members and give everyone the opportunity to do their best. 

Communicate With Group Members Between Meetings

Create a group chat to plan out the meeting time and place and reschedule if needed. This group chat can also be extremely helpful when it comes to supporting members with quick one-off questions. 

As the leader, don’t be afraid to initiate conversations in the group chat and keep the members on task. Whether that means reminding everyone of a big test coming up or sending out the link to the study guide.

Teach to Learn

Most likely, your teacher has already lectured you on the subject. You all have access to videos and books, so focus your study group on practicing or teaching others. 

The University of British Columbia explains why this works. “Lecture alone leads to the least retention…” When you practice by doing and teaching others, you retain the most knowledge and can apply it.

Give each member of the group a chance to teach everyone else about a specific topic. For example, when I took a coding class, I had a friend who would let me walk her through the code and explain what it did. This helped me better understand what each line of code meant. I also noticed gaps in my knowledge when she asked questions I didn’t know the answers to.

Keep Your Study Group Fun

Everyone learns best when they’re having fun. That’s why Bill Nye was so popular and why we learn the Alphabet in the form of a song. Be okay with some joking around, as long as people aren’t getting too unfocused. 

To keep the group engaged and interested, look up fun Youtube videos about the subject you’re studying from creators like Ted-Ed or podcasts like Stuff You Should Know

Through your study group, you’ll learn and develop leadership skills that you can use in school, clubs, and work. You’ll get to inspire others, communicate effectively, and build productive relationships. 

Our LeadYouth learners don’t just learn how to lead, they put those skills to practice in their daily lives. We believe every student can learn to be a leader. If you want to build these skills, become a LeadYouth member


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