Studying with friends? You’re having a laugh! Actually, no. Your friends are some of the most valuable resources you have. You all want each other to do well and you may even be on the same course. So here are three ways that your friends might help you to ace that next exam or assignment…
1. Shared learning spaces
There are so many group working spaces on campus. Whether that be Floor 2 of the Library, the Learning Grid or your faculty Common Room, there are plenty of spaces where you and your friends can study together.
Talking out loud and exchanging ideas is invaluable and putting things into your own words is often the best way for you to learn and retain knowledge. After all, there is only so long you can stare at your laptop screen, desperately trying to absorb information through some sort of ‘osmosis’. It’s easy to hide away, not wanting to admit that nothing is going into your brain as you’re studying, but, remember, we’re all on the same boat. We can help each other out.
2. Teach your buddies
The best study-related purchase I have ever made is my whiteboard. It changed the way I learn entirely! Instead of copying lines and lines of things I don’t understand into a notebook, I now reduce my notes to key points on my whiteboard and accompany them with diagrams and pictures. There are whiteboards available to use in many places on campus, including the Learning Grids.
Whiteboards are a great way for you to communicate ideas to your study buddies, but you don’t even need a whiteboard to teach. You can teach through talking alone. There’s a well-known phrase that says “teaching is about learning”. As you reduce your studying to simple ideas, you are able to understand what you have learnt and make sense of your ideas. Prepare to be questioned on assumptions you take and concepts you miss out, but this is all part of the process of learning through teaching. It’s powerful!
3. Share your notes
If you swap notes with a friend, you’re both doing each other a favour without any loss to yourselves. You may have picked out something different from a lecture or interpreted something in a different way. Plus, do you ever make notes and can’t even read your own handwriting? Help each other out, because we all learn better together. Make sure you are familiar with the university and department-specific rules on plagiarism – obviously the last thing you want to do is accidently plagiarise from your friends!
Additionally, it’s a good idea to discuss essay feedback with your friends. You might have a point of improvement that your friend nailed, and vice versa. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is discuss your assignment grades with your friends, but if you consider the feedback rather than the mark, it can be a valuable learning process.
Without a doubt, one of the best things about university is being surrounded by like-minded people. The people you study with are the same people you chat with about all sorts in your kitchen until the early hours of the morning. Use those around you, because we can all be each other’s study buddies.