Study Groups

Informal Study Groups


Here are guidelines for forming and running an informal study group, along with a list of common pitfalls. These guidelines are intended to be flexible, and to help you maximize the benefit you obtain from the experience. Make sure to refer to your syllabus to determine what is acceptable collaboration in a particular subject. Consult the Academic Integrity website for additional information.

Forming a Informal Study Group

  • At the beginning of the term, ask your friends, living group (check dorm postings), or teammates about forming a study group. Doing this before you need help and the semester progresses is much easier. 
  • Find a niche of students in your classes to join you. 
  • Exchange contact information and set a first meeting (date, time, place). 
  • Start studying by yourself in a lounge and others will approach you. 
  • Don't make your study group your only source of help
  • Limit your expectations and goals for the group. 

Running an Informal Study Group

Setting up the group: 
  • Meet when it is convenient for you.
  • Meet in a place that is comfortable and convenient.
  • Don't designate a leader. 
For each session:
  • Decide what you want to accomplish in that session only. Don't worry about a longer-term plan.
  • Compare notes and information.
  • Actively listen without interrupting others; be respectful of differing opinions. 
  • Do not allow one student to dominate the group.;
  • Don't expect to stay on track all the time.
  • Limit time spent complaining to a minimum.
  • Take a break at your leisure.
  • After you leave, determine whether your personal goals were accomplished.

Pitfalls of an Informal Study Group

  • With no set time for sessions, schedules may conflict and the group may wither away.
  • You have to be socially connected to join a group.
  • Since participants are not expected to stay until the session ends, students who need more help might not receive it.
  • With lower expectations, the group may be unproductive at times. 
  • Multiple interruptions can be expected. A session may turn into socializing, thus minimizing productivity.
  • Without a set time to meet, it may be difficult to find upperclass students or TAs who can be a resource for additional help.