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Do Study Groups Work? – Social and Solitary learners

When I was at school, the students who did not perform very well on tests were practically forced into going to after school “study clubs” organised by the teachers. Soon, everyone was urged to attend these sessions where teachers would sit down with students and try to answer any questions they had. This sounds good in theory but…

I did not attend one of these sessions, and ended up getting one of the highest ATARs (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) in my school.

Now, I didn’t write this post to brag about how independent and hardworking I am. I want to tell you why these sessions didn’t help me, and why you might be wasting your time on similar things.

Turns out, I am what they call a ‘solitary learner’. In other words, I work and learn better alone. The opposite of this is the ‘social learner’.  Because I knew how I learnt, I was able to avoid these time wasting (and apparently very boring) sessions. I’ll explain how to know which learner you are and how you should adjust your study plan to suit your style.

Solitary learners

Like me, you are most likely a solitary learner if:

  1. You prefer not working in teams

  2. Asking your teacher questions doesn’t seem to help you understand the topic any better

  3. You find that “group study sessions” don’t help you

An important point to note, though, is that just because you are an introvert it does not mean you are a solitary learner! Some of the loudest and most extroverted people I know are solitary learners.

If you are a solitary learner, you can follow these rules when deciding how to study:

  1. Don’t go to “study clubs” – for you, they are most likely a waste of time. I urge you to go to a few and see if they work for you, but if they don’t, STOP GOING. Don’t feel guilty and know that you’re doing yourself a favour.

  2. When learning a new topic, don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand what your teacher is talking about- most of the time I spent in class was probably wasted- not because I was distracted- but merely because I don’t learn well in social settings. I did most of my learning in private study classes (with my earphones in and away from people) or at home. Don’t be afraid to do the same.

  3. When friends ask you to come to a “group study session” before exams, don’t be afraid to say no- I always said no and didn’t lose any friends. Most of them even told me they regretted going because they all got distracted and ended up playing BeanBoozled anyways.

Social Learners

On the other end of the spectrum are social learners. You are most likely a social learner if:

  1. You enjoy working in teams

  2. You learn by listening to your teacher, as opposed to reading the textbook

  3. You find you remember things more easily if you talk about the topics with others

Again, just note that being an extrovert does not automatically mean that you’re a social learner. If you are a social learner, you can follow these tips on how to study:

  1. Ask questions!!- asking your teacher/friends questions on topics you don’t understand is a great way of getting to know your work.

  2. Go to “study clubs” – This is just an extra opportunity to work in a social environment and ask your teachers questions.

  3. Be wary of “group study sessions” before exams- “But I’m a social learner, why should I be wary?”. The simple answer to this is- I don’t know many high school students who can focus on exam study when there are friends around. Don’t get me wrong- if you know the group is focussed and will actually study- go ahead! Just don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t think they’re actually gonna study

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