How to Set Up a Med School Study Group for Success

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Use These Strategies to Maximize Your Studying

Group studying is among the top study strategies given to struggling students. But they don’t work for everyone. This multi-part series examines the types of people in med school study groups, why students might join one, and ways to know if it’s just not working for you. 

So, what do you do if a med school study group isn’t working for you — but you really want (or need) it to? There are several ways to make this study strategy work for you, but it’s probably not going to happen organically. Before you commit to a study group, consider treating it like a business. This might seem like a lot of work just to study with other people, but your time is a valuable resource, and you need to invest it wisely. So, consider approaching the group with a plan and agreements about roles and boundaries. Treat this venture like an entrepreneur, not a disengaged employee. You need to know what you’re trying to accomplish and make sure each step you take brings you closer to that goal. 

How to Structure a Med School Study Group

Before you get started, figure out what you personally want and need within the group. Determine the ways you have fallen into the role of cannon fodder in the past, and create a plan to ensure you no longer fit that role. Then, establish the non-cannon fodder role that works for you. Perhaps you would reap the most benefit as the silent sponge, the interactor, or the ringleader. It’s probably best to steer clear of the role of Chaos Agent. 

Need a refresher on the study group roles? Check out Are Study Groups A Good Fit For You?

Even before your first study session, advocate with the group for what you need. Take the time to establish the goals, tone, and structure of the group. Then, periodically consider whether you’re getting value from the group. If the answer is no, reassess. If you’re still not getting the results you need, it may be time to leave the group. 

Once you’ve established your goals, it’s a good idea to agree as a group to create an explicit agenda for each study session. Creating a workflow or checklist as a guide is ideal as it establishes parameters and goals for each session. It’s impossible to hit an invisible target. Make sure you are clear on the objectives you need to meet. 

Now is the perfect time to incorporate other STATMed methods into your study session. Each study session should include retrieval practice. But, also consider using frameworking, self-testing, or timed self-lecture. One benefit of group study versus studying alone is that teaching others, or having complex concepts explained to you, can be an effective way to learn.

At the end of each session, take time to reflect. As yourself, what did and did not work for you. Then adjust the next time your group meets. 

Are you spending countless hours in a study group without results? With the STATMed Class, we provide a wide range of tools and strategies so that every time you sit down to study, you’ll know exactly what to do to get the most bang for your buck.

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