In VCE it is important to establish good study habits and gauge the methods of study that are optimal for you. Usually, part of this process would be determining whether you work better studying individually or in a group. Ideally, you should be able to strike a balance between the two depending on your needs and your own qualities as an individual learner.  Both options have their benefits and their downsides for different situations where you may want to get something specific out of a study session, whether it be understanding a new concept or finishing off an assignment.  

Individual Study

An obvious benefit of individual study is the lack of possible distractions from your friends, which would be present in a group study scenario. In the privacy of your home or a quiet corner in the library, the peace will often enable you to focus fully on your task at hand with minimal interruption from your surroundings. Of course, for you to utilise this benefit, you need to choose a good study space with not too much noise and limited access to anything that would tempt you to deviate from your studies.

Being on your own, you can tailor your study session to your liking, putting more time towards subjects that you have more difficulty with and prioritising work with closer due dates. This luxury can often be limited in a group study session, which are often subject based and can involve people wanting to work on specific concepts together, disenabling you to work at your own pace and on other work that you may want to do.  

With being alone, you do need to be self disciplined in being diligent because no one else is there to berate you when you get off task or start procrastinating. I find that with studying at home by myself, I still get distracted very easily and can go for hours without doing any real productive work. Even with just one other person studying beside me, I find that I am able to stay on task more easily even if the other person isn’t necessarily telling me to do so. I just feel more responsible with my study when another person is there because I am aware that if I get distracted I may unintentionally distract them as well. This mindset also could explain why I find individual study in a library, or any other place where there are a lot of other people studying, more productive as I am influenced by everyone in my surroundings even if I don’t necessarily know them.

Being on your own, you do not have immediate access to fellow students that you may want to ask for help, meaning you will take to other means to contact them. In modern times, it is usual for students to seek help through mediums on the internet, such as Google or messaging friends on Facebook. While this is fine, it is always a risk that you will get distracted; you can suddenly find yourself absorbed in a Wikipedia article that are a couple of external links from the article you were originally reading about some mathematical concept, or your conversation with your friend can quickly turn from Physics to your plans on Friday night.

Group Study

To combat the last downfall of individual study, in a group study scenario your friends and fellow students are readily available as sources of help. This means you are less likely to take to the Internet to find your answers as another person in your study group may already have them. You may also find yourself as the ‘teacher’, teaching another person in your group a concept they may be confused about, which in turn will help you clarify your own knowledge on the subject. One thing group study definitely has over individual study is enabling you to clarify your knowledge with others.

In a group it is also easier to generate discussion and deliberate on specific questions or concepts. Through each person offering a different method of approach or having people challenge your own if they disagree, you can deepen your understanding on certain topics. By having your friends around you, group study also introduces a more fun perspective to studying. Whilst studying is not supposed to be social, it can help in making it more enjoyable, but of course the socialising should only be in moderation.  

Socialising getting out of hand presents the major downfall of group study, which is distractions. It is so much easier to get distracted with your friends around you; focus can quickly dissipate at one comment about something that happened last weekend, or at one lapse of productivity 30 minutes into the session everyone could mutually decide to take a five-hour lunch break, never to come back.

To successfully study as a group, you should set up a schedule of how you want the session to go, complete with productivity blocks and what you all want to achieve in them, time for discussion and breaks in between for your chatter and socialising. This way, you can have efficient study time, clarification of any work or concepts and you also get to socialise and have a bit of relaxation time.

 

In the end, whether you study individually or as a group is dependent on you and what works the best for you. One way isn’t necessarily better than the other as a whole, they both have their pros and cons; you just have to decide for yourself and make a smart decision that’s suited to you.

- Written by Anna :>

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