The school workload is piling up and the subjects are becoming more challenging. You are anxious that the teachers are moving from one section to another at such a fast pace that it is hard for you to grasp all the concepts. You decide to start a study group with some of your classmates to help you overcome the stress and get through all the work.

Here are some tips that will help you create a study group that will have positive outcomes.

Choose your group members wisely. A study group that is mainly formed by close friends is very likely to spend more time socialising than studying. Look for students who pay attention, ask questions and appear to be interested in class.

Get to know each other. On your first session spend a few minutes introducing yourselves if you don’t know each other already. Take each other’s contact information.

Create a WhatsApp group. This will help you to communicate and organise your study sessions. But make sure that you have clear rules about what type of messages people can send so that it is useful and stays on course.

Keep your group small and manageable. A group of five or less is more efficient and manageable than a larger study group. But if you are studying for a specific exam a larger group can work if it is for a short period of time or just as a once-off session.

Find a quiet study area. Look for a place that is unlikely to give you distractions but which allows you to discuss your work freely. You could book an empty classroom to use after school or study at one of the group member’s home if their parents agree.

Agree on how the sessions will be conducted. Will you be working on problems, comparing notes or discussing how much of the work does each member understands? Your purpose for meeting will influence how your sessions are organised and conducted.

Decide when and how often to meet. You must decide how long the study sessions should take and how to resolve conflicts in the group should they arise. You must have a set of rules that everyone must respect to stay part of the group.

Assign responsibilities to members. A study group can work well if it has: a facilitator, who keeps the sessions on point and moving forward; and, a scribe, who keeps notes and tracks the information flow. These roles can be rotated at first so that group members figure out who is best at what role.

Plan your sessions. After every study session agree on what subject/section you will be doing when your group meets again. This will help you not to waste time discussing what to do when you really should be studying. Furthermore, this will give everyone a chance to prepare and participate fully in sessions.

Bring all the study material to the venue. This means your textbook(s), class notes, study guides and syllabus. These will come in handy as referrals when you are stuck with a problem and when you are looking for more exercises to do.

Give every member a chance to be a teacher/tutor. In this way everyone will be required to share to the group what they have learnt in classes. Be cautious of students who join study groups to suck more information from others than sharing.

Note: Study groups are very useful but they are not a substitute for individual study. Besides, studying alone helps you bring more input in the group.

Tell us: Have you ever joined a study group? What tips do you have for running group study sessions successfully?