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Monday, June 23, 2014

7 People You Don't Want In Your Study Group

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It wasn't until I realized that he was picking the dirt from under his nails with a paper clip that I realized I made a big mistake. I've never been a huge fan of studying in groups. That has nothing to do with the results though. Studying in groups can provide amazing results. There is nothing like a little social pressure to improve your focus on studying but there is one major challenge that I've had to face virtually every time I tried to study in groups.

Most people are not good at studying. Really... studying in a group with certain kinds of people will do nothing but limit your ability to learn. You need to know to avoid certain kinds of people in your study groups. In most cases, given the choice between studying in a group with one of these people, or studying alone, you should pick alone. At least you can predict your results when you're studying alone.

Here are the 7 people you don't want in your study group:

1. The Story Teller

No... I love people that can tell a good story too but that has nothing to do with studying. I can remember one of my study groups spending 20 minutes listening to this one guys story about this night he was at a bar. Notice how miserably I tell that story? That means I'm the kind of guy you want in your study group.

You cannot let your study group get distracted by stories that aren't related to the study material. Good story tellers are fun to listen to but if they can't restrain their story telling through study time then you're not going to get any studying done.

2. The Gossiper

If someone says even two words about an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend during the study time then you might as well leave. I'm sure you can recognize a gossiper. When someone gossips they're showing that they have absolutely no interest in the material being discussed. More importantly, it can drag everyone else out of the study material as well. (Well... when they tell you what they think, you gotta tell them what you think... It's a dangerous slope.)

3. Answer-It-All

Don't mistake an answer-it-all for the classic know-it-all. The answer-it-all has very little connection to that. A know-it-all knows the answer to every question being asked. That is not necessarily a bad addition to the study group. An answer-it-all thinks they know the answer to every question being asked and insist on proving it to everyone else in the group.

If there is anyone in your group that answers all the questions being asked without letting anyone else have a turn then you've gotta get away from them. Study groups need to offer everyone in the group the chance to answer questions. Hogging the questions is no different than hogging anything else.

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4. The Hopeless

“There is no way I'm going to pass this...”

“I'm totally going to fail.”

“This is soooo hard...”

Imagine it's one of these lines being said by someone with a horribly depressed face. Some people feel the need to express their lack of confidence at every chance they get. Now... we all feel that way sometimes. Heck, we probably even express it but it doesn't help anyone get anywhere.

Expressing a lack of confidence hurts everyone in the study group. When one person feels hopeless they drag everyone else down with them. It doesn't matter how right they are about the challenges of the test. No one needs more insecurity. One of the biggest advantages of a study group is the projected confidence of the group. A confident study group is a productive one.

5. Too Cool To Study

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Some people are more worried about looking good than passing the test. They go to the study groups just to hang out with friends and maybe... occasionally... remember a thing or two. These people are poison for a study group.

First of all, they're terribly disruptive to real studying. They're generally pretty polite with the whole format but they'll still break character and have unrelated conversations whenever they feel like it.

That isn't all that deadly but it is disruptive. The biggest problems come when you get two or three of these people in a study group. A once productive study group turns into a social gathering with the occasional person trying to ignore conversation while they try to study.

You're there to study. Make sure the people you're with have that on their mind too.

6. Give Me Perfection Or Give Me Death

While people that don't care much about improving their grades are bad, you also don't want people that always need perfection in your study group. These are the kinds of people that get 99's and cry about it.

People are not machines designed to learn everything and anything. They have limitations and that's okay. People that can't accept that project their neuroses with them everywhere they go. You don't want those neuroses spreading to everyone else in your study group. There is an appropriate amount of stress to have for a test. Don't let those that could pull a train with the knots in their neck study with you.

7. People You Hate

I've tried studying with people I don't like too many times. (I don't like many people. Eventually it became sort of a necessity. That's, sadly, partly true.) It offers some advantages to your study time. Specifically, when you're dealing with someone you don't like in your study group, you don't need to worry about mindless friendly conversation distracting you. Both people know why they're their and stick to the subject.

That doesn't make up for the pre-studying problem though. When your study group involves people you don't like, you're going to have to force yourself to go. You'll need to discipline yourself to follow through despite thinking, “I really don't want to see that person again...”

It's okay to study only with people you like.

Notice how difficult it is to find people that are good for a study group? You'll find that 9 out of 10 people fit into one of these categories. That's generally why I never enjoyed any long term study groups. They're absolutely amazing when they work but you need to find and hold onto the people you want in your study group. To those not inclined to do it, that can be a real challenge.

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