Some students love study groups. Others would much rather study by themselves. If you have been studying solo thus far in law school, you may be wondering if you are missing out by not taking part in a law school study group. If you are considering joining a study group, there are a few things to keep in mind:
First, keep your learning style in mind when deciding whether a study group is right for you.
Study groups are best for students that are verbal learners; that is, those that learn well by hearing concepts explained to them and by explaining concepts to others. Study groups also work well for students that like to study with others and those that truly do not have the self-discipline to study on their own.
However, study groups do not work well for everyone. Independent learners are much better off studying in the quiet of their own rooms and tend to get stressed out and aggravated when in a group that is not one hundred percent efficient. Study groups are also not as effective for students that prefer more “silent” methods of learning information to begin with (i.e. visual learners, reflective learners, etc). If you are not sure of your learning style, it may be a good idea to get some feedback on your learning style by taking a learning style quiz.
If you decide to try joining a study group, it is also important to remember that not all study groups are created equally.
Do some research before joining a study group or, better yet, create your own law school study group.
How can you tell a good study group from a bad one? A good study group will focus on outlining and application of the law to facts in an exam question (as opposed to focusing exclusively on cases). A good study group will also have an agenda and a leader. It will stay focused, and it will not spend an inordinate amount of time on gossip or non-law-related topics. After all, while camaraderie is a nice bonus of belonging to a study group, the whole point of a study group is to study, not socialize.
It is okay to NOT belong to a study group.
In law school, I never belonged to a study group. I found them to not be effective for me because of my independent learning style (I learn best by silently writing and memorizing outlines). However, since graduating from law school, I have led many bar exam study groups and I have seen firsthand how helpful and effective a study group can be when it is dedicated to efficiency, follows a clear agenda, and has a leader.
If you think that joining a law school study group would benefit you, it would not hurt to try one out and see how you like it. However, if you find that studying in a group does not mesh well with your learning style, do not feel pressured to join one. After all, everyone learns in different ways and there is nothing magical about a study group.
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