Friends revising at table with coffee mugs

Getting the most out of revision with a friend or in a group

Sometimes, studying for exams can seem a rather solitary business.  However, there’s no reason why learners shouldn’t occasionally benefit from joining forces with a friend or friends and revising with them.

After all, if there are two or more of you, you can benefit from each other’s strengths while supporting each other in the areas where you need to improve.

boy sitting at desk revising

For example, you may find that you’ve each taken away something different after attending the same lessons, so start by comparing the notes you took.

Additionally, if you have differing views on an issue you’re learning about, that can help bring a subject alive. You’ll certainly learn to argue your case! Equally, if you have to explain something to someone else, you’ll deepen your own understanding of the topic.

That said, you need to be sure you and your study buddy or buddies are genuinely benefiting from your joint sessions. You should have specific aims each time you get together, rather than a vague notion of ‘meeting up to revise’. Are you supporting each other to pass a particular exam, complete a specific project or work through the basic elements of a subject?

Be precise about where and how long to meet for, and how often you’ll be getting together. Meeting for around two hours once or twice a week is probably a good average, depending on what works for you.

You can meet in each other’s homes if you have the discipline to resist the inevitable temptations of TV, music and the kitchen. A coffee shop can make a pleasant change of scene, and although it costs money for drinks and snacks, it can ease the pain of relentless revision alone.  A library may also work if there’s a suitable area where you can talk to each other.

It’s fine just to meet up, share a physical study space, and enjoy breaks together, but having a study partner comes into its own when you discuss topics, test each other and fill one another’s knowledge gaps.

Structure your sessions well, in a way that works for you. For example, you might start with a rapid recap of what you’ve learnt so far that week, followed by a sustained period focusing on your allotted subjects or units for that day, before finishing with a recap of what you’ve just covered. If you’re working for more than an hour, factor in break times for chats or to replenish drinks, amounting to no more than 15 minutes in every 60.

If you’re working in a group, keep it to a maximum of four students including yourself (any more probably won’t be workable). Get the right blend of talents and personalities, and be sure everyone is prepared to contribute. You’ll need to be organised – so why not use an online platform such as Doodle to coordinate schedules?

Working with others can provide an extra boost to your studying, although it is no substitute for solo efforts; realistically, you’ll still be working alone most of the time. You’ll also need to be committed and disciplined to make it work, but, done well, joint studying sessions can make a positive difference to your revision programme – and even make revising fun!

splay of coloured revision index cards


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