Studying in Groups vs Studying Alone. What Do You Prefer?

When it comes to studying for a major exam, I prefer to study by myself in fear that if I studied in a group setting I would become distracted and branch off into a conversation that would not be related too the material on the exam. While this is my preferred way of studying, many of my friends express the effectiveness of studying in a group setting and how it expands their understanding of the information because you can discuss the information with classmates.

Pro’s for Studying in Groups: A problem that many students face is procrastination. Living away from home and being in college, you have so much time on your hands and it is up to you on what you do with it. I know many students have procrastinated until the last minute before an exam and being in a study group just might be the answer to your solution. Studying in a group requires responsibility and you have to meet up at a specific time to study for a specific amount of hours.  Also, while working with other students and studying the same material gives you the opportunity to ask questions if you become confused on a certain segment of the textbook. You can also learn from others and pick up your peers study techniques that work for them.

Group Study

Pro’s for Studying Alone: A problem that many students face when it comes to study groups is distraction. Meeting up with your friends to study can quickly go from studying Economics and trying to understand the Law of  Demand, to a discussion about fantasy football rankings. Studying solo allows you to minimize distractions around you. You can focus on the information that you need more practice on, instead of reviewing material you might already know but have to clarify for a friend who doesn’t. Lastly, you can go at your own pace and take breaks when you desire.

Solo Study

Both study styles have advantageous and disadvantages and each individual student has their own way of studying that works to their advantage. If you study in a group it is important to find the right group members that can challenge you and further your knowledge of the material. If you are studying alone, staying on task and not procrastinating is the most important tip to keep in mind.

One way of determining which study style is most effective is running an observational study with a response variable.  How you could do this would be to take a group of students in the same class, with the same knowledge of the material and give them the same study guide and then split them up into two groups; students that study alone vs students that study in groups. Give each group the same amount of time to study for an exam and compare the average grade of the two groups after they take the exam.


5 thoughts on “Studying in Groups vs Studying Alone. What Do You Prefer?

  1. Michael A Lupo

    I am of the group who prefers to studying alone. Personally, I feel that I am most productive when I am not in the presence of other in a social setting. I think it is much easier to focus and maintain my focus when it is just me and the material I am studying. However, I do understand the other side of the argument. Studying with others can be beneficial because you are able to explain key concepts to others and help each other out when a difficult topic arises. In order to test which method is most effective, I would design a randomized experiment to test which group performs best on a test. I would first send out a poll to students to find out which way they prefer to study. I would break them up into four groups: people who like to study alone, people who like to study in groups, people who prefer to study alone and put them with some kids who like to study in groups, and people who prefer to study in groups and make them study alone. I would give them material to study which would be the same amongst all groups. Then, after allowing them a week to prepare, I would administer a test to all of the people in the study. Then based on the test results and how the groups prepared, I would be able to determine which method of studying would be most successful. Although this would only be one study with a relatively small sample size, we would be able to gather insight on the most effective way to prepare for exams. In college, you see both methods of studying. Some people prefer study groups, while others prefer quiet and alone time. Regardless of which method works for you, here are 10 ways you can improve your study habits. Taking these methods into consideration and pairing them with your preferred method of study can only impact you positively, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of them?

  2. Brandon Ross Armitt

    My opinion when it comes studying in groups vs. alone is that when your alone, your setting yourself up for success. There are definitely the pros and cons when it comes to studying in groups and alone. From personal experience I have found that working alone has lead to higher grades compared to in groups. In high school a lot of my classes I had a large group of friends in, so naturally we all wanted to hang out and study together. At first i was on board with this because everyone would be able to give input when someone doesn’t understand something. But at the same time a lot of the times we found ourselves getting distracted, losing valuable studying time. When it came time to get the grades back from the test, I wouldn’t perform as high as I expected, and I blame this partially due to the fact that I wasn’t focused enough. For the next test, I told my friends that I was sick and couldn’t study with them to see if this would impact my grade. I was able to focus a lot better which directly impacted my grade going up. Ultimately I saw that there were more benefits studying alone so thats what I continued to stick with. But to this day sometimes I would going with a group, but I don’t rely as heavily on it for all my studying.

    Attached is a link that contradicts my idea, rather saying that groups are more effective :

  3. Darby Helen Smith

    I think this is a very interesting and relevant blog post as a lot of college students are trying to find the most effective way to study for the many exams that we must take in order to pass our courses. From personal experience, I think that the answer to this question is very subjective. In my experience, it depends on the person you are, the people you decide to study with, and the subject that you are studying for. Therefore, I believe that it would be pretty difficult to experiment this.

  4. Jackson Grey Hope

    Personally, I prefer studying in groups, and I think that it often depends on the person. Some people feed off of other’s information and having multiple brains work at a specific task can often be exponential in nature. I agree with some of your pros and cons for each group, and i believe that there are definitely setbacks for both. Procrastination can always occur even if you’re with a group can you will always find yourself trailing off topic and talking about other things especially when you’re with your friends. It would have been interesting if you provided a link to an actual experiment done where two groups were randomly assigned, and one group studied in groups, and the other studied individually. Then the scores could be compared and you could see if there was any difference. This could end up being very vulnerable to chance but the more and more studies conducted would lower the value that it could be due to chance.

  5. Katrina Burka

    I totally see both sides to this argument. For me, it really depends on the class type and structure of an exam as to if I study in groups or go solo. For exams that are more memorization or fact base, I think you can study for that solo using flash cards or study guides. For exams that are more objective, require essays, or have difficult concepts to grasp, I prefer studying in groups. Overall I think your post relates back to the concept Andrew brought into class on studying smarter not harder. Its not about the quantity of hours you study but more about the quality. As for your suggestion for an observational experiment, I think your theory would be more experimental because you are setting up an environment and manipulating the variable to see a different outcome. Also, by using a class, there is a high chance people may be friends within your designated groups, leading to distraction or unproductively. To take out this bias, you would need more randomization. Also, it would be really difficult to have everyone in the experiment start at the same basis level of knowledge. Naturally, some will have had better study habits and are gifted in certain subjects, so it may lead to an uneven playing field. Overall I think the experiment is a good idea, but it would need more control. Here is an article from the Association for Supervision and Ciriculum Development that discusses how to get to understand students more in their way of learning. It talks about the different ways people take in information and how different types of methods in and out of the classroom may effect that .

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