One thing I noticed in my first year of university was how adverse other students were to sharing notes or forming study groups. It really surprised me as I would have thought that this was a more efficient way of studying. I am not suggesting you hand over your finished, proofread essay to your whole cohort, but there is definitely value and efficiency in allocating reading lists and swapping notes. I think school instils in teenagers a fear of sharing work or allowing people to copy, which then carries on in university life. However at university, instead of having a set of information to learn, to get higher marks you must go beyond set readings and explore the subject further. This takes time! Journal articles can be long and full of irrelevant information.
Forming a study group with people who you know are achieving similar grades to you can be hugely beneficial. These benefits include a considerable reduction in the time it takes to take notes on reading. You may not like your peer's style of note-taking, but reworking notes is definitely a lot quicker than reading a whole chapter, and you will learn as you are rewording them. You may find you learn new, better ways to study, and having different revision styles in one group can help you process information faster. It is also easier to research an area that you have a genuine interest in. If someone else in your study group has an interest in an area you are not so keen on, it can be a good way to get around the study slump when you hit a dreary topic.
Forming a study group with your friends can be great, but it can also be a nightmare if you are easily distracted or your friends aren’t quite as motivated as you are. Sometimes finding people on your course who you know are hitting top marks is better than friends as you won’t be as tempted to chat and you will have similar focus levels. Also, generally people who are getting first-class marks will be making good notes and picking good extra reading, so you know that the notes you swap will be of high quality. If you are discussing the notes you have swapped you will know if someone has made stuff up and you can question any mistakes. Discussing shared notes also gives you time to form an opinion and listen to other people’s opinions. A discussion between peers on a topic can often form a good line of argument for an essay or piece of coursework as, if the other person has a different view to you, you will be defending your point or discovering reasons why it is a weak argument. Not only will this be great for your piece of work, but it will also help you to develop the skills needed in some commercial awareness interviews.
So, during the new university year think about forming a study group to make your revision and learning more efficient.