You might not be familiar with the term ‘synergy’, but you’ve probably seen it in your daily life. It refers to the multiplied energy that results when you put two things together, like support beams in a structure. Well, studying is like that, too. With the right study group, students can magnify their learning more than they ever could on their own.

college study group tipsBut let’s take a dose of reality for a moment: college students don’t just show up knowing how to hold an effective group study session. It takes practice, experience… and maybe some good tips. That’s where we come in!

To help you turn your ragtag band of misfit students into a well-oiled studying machine, we here at are pleased to provide you with the following five tips to make your sutdy group more effective:

1. Pick the right members

Homeostasis is a characteristic that allows living organisms to constantly regulate themselves to cope with their environment. For better or worse, this same gift causes humans to take on each other’s moods while in the same space. This is all to say that the characteristics of your study group members can rub off on you, to your benefit or detriment.

So make sure you pick study group partners that will raise your game instead of bring you down. If you do, the rest of this stuff will be a ton easier.

2. Set rules.

As good as the United States’ Founding Fathers were, they still realized the need for some ground rules. To help your group get the most out of its time together, you all need to agree on some simple rules–a code of conduct, if you will. Of course, these don’t need to be a full-blown Constitution. The rules can be very simple–what you will do, what you won’t, what will happen if someone breaks a rule. Draft these rules and agree together to abide by them.

3. Come prepared.

Your study group’s time together will be much more productive if every member has prepared themselves ahead of time. This will give you all something to talk about once group time happens, instead of everyone merely reading in the same room. Your time together will only be as effective as your preparation. This tip is so powerful that you might consider making it one of your group’s rules.

4. Enforce the rules.

It’s one thing to create rules, but it’s another thing entirely to enforce them. As awkward as it might be, in order for your group to stay effective, you have to stick to your guns with your study group members.

For example, one group agreed that members would put a dollar into a jar if they were late to a meeting. When it first happened, other group members, feeling awkward at first, asked that the offender pay up. Reluctantly, the offender obliged. This started a snowball effect that soon resulted in no one being late.

Remember: rules are nothing without enforcement of those rules.

5. Protect your time.

Time is your most precious resource. Your group’s rules should protect this resource. This means making sure that no time is wasted on tardiness or tangential conversations.

In the business world, meeting organizers will appoint one attendee to be the timekeeper. Armed with a stopwatch, the timekeeper will closely watched how much time is allotted for each agenda item. When time is up for each item, they stop the conversation and move on to the next item. In this way, they maximize the time that these often busy individuals spend together. You can do the same in your study group.

What do you think makes a great study group? What’s the worst study group you’ve ever been in? Share your comments below!

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