Group versus Solo Study: The Pros & Cons

College Mate

By the time we get to college, most of us think we have our study methods all figured out. I mean, we’ve been doing it for years at this point. So you’d think we’d have mastered it, right?

Wrong. Nothing prepares you for the pressure of college, and you have to find new ways to keep yourself motivated, and most importantly… awake.

In high school, I never imagined group study as a productive way to get work done. We’d tell our parents we were studying together as an excuse to meet up and chill with friends. But we never actually got any studying done.

What Changed

However, during my third year of college, I bit off way more than I could chew. On a daily basis I’d spend at least 12 hours on campus.

Coming to my room after that, all I’d see was my bed, and my mind would focus on nothing but food and sleep. Of course, this couldn’t last. I had assignments and research work to do; not to mention exams to study for.

I knew what I had to do, but couldn’t find the motivation I needed in my room. My friends shared the same sentiment, so we decided to stay away from our rooms until we’d finished studying for the day. 

We started meeting at a Starbucks nearby after lectures, and found that by sitting together, we were actually motivating each other to study. Still, I’ve found that there are both pros and cons to studying in a group and studying alone.

Which is better? Let’s find out.

Studying Alone

Pros

  1. The Gift of Silence: When alone, students can study in the comfort of our own room, or in a library where there is peace and quiet.
  2. The Time is Yours: As we’re on your own, students only have to coordinate the time at which we start and stop studying, with ourselves. We can study when we want, for however long we want to.
  3. Pace Yourself: We don’t have the burden of keeping up with anyone else. We can take as long as we like to complete a task, without feeling pressured to do it any faster.
  4. Personalized Learning: Everyone has their own study methods. So when studying alone, we can focus on our own way of studying without trying to match ours with anyone else’s in the group.

Cons

  1. Will Power: Studying on your own makes us more likely to partake in distracting activities; such as checking social media, or watching just ‘one more video’, or staring blankly at the wall. This, I feel, is the biggest drawback to studying alone.
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  2. When in Doubt: Sometimes the study material isn’t easy to understand, and students need someone to clarify a concept, or clear their doubts. When this happens. studying alone can be a struggle.

Group Study

Pros

  1. Motivation: The biggest advantage of studying in a group is the motivation students offer each other. Simply sitting in the same area and studying is enough of a motivator for a student, as we see our peers studying and feel more inspired to do the same.
  2. Squad Goals: Studying together allows students to keep up a steady pace of learning by forming goals and reaching them together. Some students also prefer challenging situations. A friend reaching a study goal first only makes them work harder to achieve their own, because they don’t want to be left behind.
  3. Sharing is Caring: Getting queries answered, and discussing concepts and ideas is a huge advantage of studying together. People have different perspectives when looking at the same things. Studying in a group allows students to analyse a topic from different viewpoints and get a comprehensive understanding of the subject.
  4. Increased Retention: Verbalizing helps increase retention and an important part of group study is teaching one another and going over the study material together.

Cons

  1. Gossip: While studying in a group helps us motivate one another, it also gives us the perfect opportunity to chat. It’s only obvious that if you’re sitting with a friend to study, no matter how good your intentions are, you will at some point remember a story or a piece of news that you have to share.
  2. Befriend the Noise: If you’re in a group study, chances are that you’re not going to be at the quietest place because you need to be able to discuss material. So, studying in a group often means having to focus amidst a certain amount of sound and chatter.
  3. Differences in Method: If students differ too much in how they go about studying, going at it together probably isn’t the best idea. To avoid this, assess compatibility before joining a study group.

Advice

Why choose just one of the two when merging them is a more effective way to learn? You can:

  1. Sit at the same cafe, but at separate tables so you’re studying alone, but can still talk to one another if the need arises.
  2. Do the initial learning alone, and get together for revision purposes.

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About the Author

Ziggy is currently studying Mental Health at King’s College, London. She is an Indian who has recently moved to London and her love for writing combined with her love for the city have manifested into her writing a blog – Zee’s London Diaries.

This post is the first January submission for the Monthly College Mate Writing Contest.

14 thoughts on “Group versus Solo Study: The Pros & Cons

  1. Thanks for this. I usually follow the same pattern which you have suggested. Studying according to me is proves more fruitful when done solo; later for clarifications group discussion helps. Relying entirely on a group study for an exam is not the brightest idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Anaida! I learned best studying alone but I was also a tutor and can attest to the fact that many students could not have passed without the tutoring. We all learn in different ways.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

      – Alex

      Liked by 1 person

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