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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Why Studying Alone May Not Be Enough


Reasons Why You Should Study With a Group 

In anticipation of major exams, many people are tempted to study exclusively by themselves so they have more control and autonomy over their work. Certainly, there are advantages to this approach. You may be less distracted and more comfortable during your studying – and more capable of absorbing information quickly.

That said, there are limitations to how much you can accomplish by exclusively studying alone. To see better results, it may be in your best interest to study with others – whether you study with peers, a teacher, or with coaches as part of an exam review course.

The Limitations of Studying Alone

Studying alone has its advantages, but it also has limitations in a few different categories:

· Personal knowledge. We all suffer from inherent cognitive biases and the limitations of our own knowledge. In a group setting, you'll be much less likely to make mistakes based on these limitations.

· Discipline, focus, and accountability. Some people are naturally motivated, so they have no problem studying consistently and effectively by themselves. But for most of us, things like discipline, focus, and accountability are tough to establish in isolation.

· Social dynamics. There are no social benefits to gain if you're completely by yourself. Interacting with other people is the only way to capitalize on these.

The Benefits of Studying With Others

By contrast, studying with other people has a multitude of benefits:

· Identifying and acknowledging study material. Working with other people can help you figure out what material you need to study and what types of questions will be on the exam. Even if you heard the professor outline what was going to be on the exam, and even if the exam contents are public knowledge, other people can complement your knowledge and help you take a better-rounded approach.

· Novel forms of studying. There are many different studying techniques worth trying, each with advantages and disadvantages. If you're left to your own devices, you'll be stuck studying in the patterns you already know, using the tactics you've already mastered. In a group setting, you'll be talking with others – and preferably multiple people – who all have their own preferences and studying experiences. Interacting with them can introduce you to techniques you never would have tried on your own – and therefore help you learn in dynamic new ways.

· Interactive exercises. Studying with a group is also the only way to take advantage of truly interactive studying experiences. You can talk to other people about the material in an engaging dialogue. You can quiz each other or use flashcards to test each other's knowledge. You can even take practice exams and grade them together. All these group strategies can improve your retention – and make the studying process more enjoyable at the same time.

· Accountability. An oft-underestimated advantage of group studying environments is their ability to hold you accountable. Let's imagine that your study group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 12 pm. You attend meetings regularly for a while, but then you start feeling lazy and you skip a session. Chances are, someone in the group will text you and ask where you are – and encourage you to come back the next meeting. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can help motivate you to continue doing your best.

· Consistency. That Tuesday/Thursday schedule has another important benefit: it's consistent. If you're left to study on your own, you might study only when it's convenient, or squeeze it in between other responsibilities. But if you're part of a group, you'll have to find a way to make it work; it's going to be the priority in your schedule.

· Help as needed. Are you struggling to understand something? Or is there a topic that just isn't making sense to you? If you're studying alone, your only real option is to search the web and hope someone clarifies it in a way that makes sense. But in a group setting, you'll have people who can work with you directly – and give you exactly the answers you need.

· Bonding and stress relief. Finally, remember that working with other people in a study group is a great way to bond and relieve stress. You're probably feeling a bit stressed or anxious about the exam – but all these people are probably feeling the same things. You can talk about the psychological burden of this endeavor, share stories, provide support to each other, and have a better, less stressful experience overall.

Studying in a group setting isn't perfect – but it doesn't have to be your only methodology. For most people, and in most studying contexts, the best approach is to use a mix of both individual and group studying to learn new things and prepare for your upcoming exams. Don't box yourself in and limit your true potential by focusing on only one. 

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