Study Group? Is it really that helpful?
Yes! Absolutely! I couldn’t have got into medicine without my study group peers. Multiple studies have shown that if done properly, study group can
- SHORTEN the amount of time to learn information- through active discussion, teaching and questioning each other
- CONSOLIDATE the information learned – ie: you remember the facts for a much longer period
Now, I still think that you have to spend some study time on your own your weak subjects but having study group 3-4 times a week can speed your learning in difficult topics and make HSFY LESS BORING.
What makes a study group session effective?
There are too many times when my “study group sessions” ended up having non-sense and aimless discussion. However, there are sessions where I found them extremely productive. The key is to
- PLAN AHEAD
- The single most important factor. Decide with your peers- the topic or lecture of discussion, location and duration of study group sessions. If you don’t plan ahead, you might as well go for a coffee session instead.
Choosing the right member for study group is important as well. I suggest having only one or two members. Big groups = more chaos. My study group only had two people- me and my friend. Always choose friends that can commit to study group and stick to the plan.
Prior to the sessions, prepare yourselves: do some study on the decided topic, gather resources to share and remind others of their roles.
The Types of Study Group Sessions
- Question-Answer study group
- My favorite type of study group for HSFY. My friend and I decide on a particular lecture that we want to learn first (for example HUBS191 lecture 4). Then, we would read up briefly prior to the study group. When we meet up, we will take turns asking each other questions about the lecture. For example, I will ask him questions on slide 1 lecture 4, then he would ask me questions on slide 2 lecture 4, I will ask him questions on slide 3 etc. etc. etc.
- The reason why I really liked this type of study group is because you have to
- listen carefully
- think and recall your facts
- answer verbally
- So instead of trying to memorise by reading slides, you have to go thought the processes above which promote better memory consolidation and hardwire the information to your grey matter.
- This type of study group session is most effective for memory-intensive papers
- Teaching study group
- This one is quite good especially if you like to learn by listening. First, we decide on our weak topics. We would each study a topic and teach it to our peers. This gives you the chance to ask questions, testing their depth of knowledge and yours too!
- The downfall to this type of study group is that you need to be able to explain concepts accurately (this can be hard if you are not familiar with the subject). If not done correctly, you might end up confusing yourself and others.
- My recommendation is to always pick a topic that you are about 80% confident to teach.
- This type of study group session is most effective for concept and theory-heavy subjects
- Forum/ Discussion study group
- A hit or miss in my opinion. I personally don’t like this one but some of my friends find it helpful. Basically, everyone decide and agree on a certain topic to discuss. Then, everyone goes through the lecture objectives and actively discuss and elaborate on the objectives.
- It is good for idea gathering and promote critical thinking. The problem I have is that we tend to be overenthusiastic and discuss in too much detail and end up derailing from the objectives.
- This type of study group is most effective for concept and theory-heavy subjects
- I highly recommend study groups for memory intensive subjects (HUBS191/192, CELS191, BIOC192). I would stick to the “question-answer” study group sessions. It helps to speed up memorisation and the facts will last longer in your brain.
- For CHEM191, PHSI191, PUBH192- always practice, practice, practice. Study group should focus on specific topic and avoid confusing others if you are not familiar with the topic. I often advise to find a tutor to explain difficult concepts or solve difficult exam questions.
- Always do your own self-study. Use study group as an adjunct to your learning!