Studying for success

Point – Counterpoint: Solo VS Group

Staff Stories

More stories from Noah Sanchez

Cut out line cutting
November 18, 2015

More stories from Anna Ta

After Collins
February 17, 2016

More stories from


Carolyn Stocki / Legacy Media

My College Guide states that every style of studying has several pros and cons, ranging from learning from others in a group to improved concentration while studying solo.

While some students believe studying alone is more effective, others enjoy study groups. Which do you prefer?

Studying solo – Noah Sanchez

Textbooks lay untouched on the table as the study group has yet another laugh. The notebooks sit, vying for attention, only to have a conversation about food triumph over productivity. The intention of getting work done vanished the minute they walked through the door.

Solitary study offers students the chance to study at their own pace. Every person has their own study habits, and when in a group, the possibility of distraction increases. When I study, I usually put a cracker at the end of the page that I am reading to give motivation and a reward for staying focused. When in a group, different personalities and habits can clash resulting in less productivity.

In an online survey in the March 2009 issue of Future Fellows, 85 percent of the respondents said they prefer to study for exams on their own, while 15% prefer to study with a group. This proves that people have the belief that study groups are unproductive. Solitary study can provide the chance for students to get their work done.

The concept of “group studying” is a fantasy. All too often, study groups become social gatherings, full of distraction rather than study. This promotes procrastination, because why work when talking about weekend plans is an option? It takes individual and collective discipline to remain focused on the task at hand. Each group is as strong as its weakest link.

Studying in groups – Anna Ta

Many students are familiar with the process of procrastination. It is very easy to get lost in social media or varying trains of thought when the other option is reading eighteen pages about the history of maritime trade in 1450. One thought leads to another and then suddenly five hours have passed, but only three pages have been read – and the test is tomorrow.

This can be avoided with effective study groups. If one member gets off-track then the other members can pull the discussion back to the subject at hand. A study done by the Institute of Education at London University in 2006 found that students became more focused on accomplishing their work when they were in groups, and the amount of thoughtful discussion between them more than doubled in many of the test classes.

Study groups have immediate and long-term benefits. One of the project’s researchers, Ed Baines, concluded that working in groups fulfills students’ learning needs. According to the project’s results, those who learn to work in groups learn how to compromise and make visible progress in both the sciences and the arts. The same cannot be said of studying individually.

Those who oppose studying in groups argue that they lead to distraction and that studying alone does not; however this is false. When all the members of the group actively participate to achieve a common goal, the mutual dependence on one another pressures all the members of the group to stay on track. In contrast, there is no one to help a student stay on topic if they are only depending on themselves.

Considering all the reasons working in groups is beneficial in contrast to studying alone, it must be concluded that study groups are the most effective way to prepare for exams.