This is the point in the website where I start getting tomatoes thrown at me and that guy with the hooked cane pulls me off the stage. Study groups always seem to be everyone’s “go to” tactic when they notice they are struggling with a class, and everyone seems to love them, so they MUST be incredibly helpful…and the bigger the better…right?

Wrong. Big study groups are a monumental waste of time. Here’s why:

  • they tend to be more based on social interaction than studying
  • they lack structure
  • they don’t take into account individual learning styles
  • they aren’t always led by “experts” (the blind leading the blind, so to speak)
  • they lack clear goals
  • less confident (or shy) students may get lost in the crowd
  • they are inefficient, so less gets done as the clock ticks ticks ticks away

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Why so much focus on saving time in nursing school?

Nursing school is Busy (that’s capital “B” busy). It is not unheard of for students to routinely stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning just to get all their work done. I knew right away this was not going to work for me. So, each day I would figure out the tasks, classes and projects I needed to get done and schedule out my time.

My goal was to always get to bed by 11pm AND I NEVER ONCE MISSED THIS GOAL. How? When so many of my classmates were still TEXTING me at 2am? Everything I did, I did with an eye toward the clock…if I could get something done in thirty minutes that a study group would do in 2 hours…guess which method won? Yep.

For example, we were allowed to do our online quizzes with others, and since they were pretty tricky, many students took advantage of this leniency. The first time I went to one of these study sessions there were around 8-10 people there…all taking their quizzes one-at-a-time and helping each other with those pesky NCLEX-style questions. Each quiz was 20 questions long and each question took a minute or two to process and discuss. So that’s 20 minutes for ONE person to do ONE quiz…and these folks were going to do this eight or ten times? I quickly realized I DID NOT have time for that and immediately started doing the quizzes either by myself or with one other person.

Being efficient with your time is at the heart of EVERYTHING I am teaching you here on this website. So take my word for it…big study groups are going to rob you of your beauty sleep. Guaranteed.

I’m not saying you have to always study alone

Just because I am not a fan of big study groups…it CAN be beneficial to study with a small number of people (no more than THREE of you total…four if you’re TOTALLY and completely committed to the same goals.)

So, let’s say you want to start a small study group. Even with a small group, you could still fall into the many pitfalls outlined above. So how do you make a study group work for you?

Tips for making your (small) study groups awesome!

Set a start AND end time: Knowing your group is scheduled for one hour exactly will help ensure you get right down to business. With that said, make sure you start and end on time!

Set a few ground rules: Agree on a few ground rules before your group’s first study sesh. Some good rules to follow are: no latecomers, no phones, no side conversations and no gossip. Also, to ensure everyone gains knowledge from the session, set an expectation that anyone who is “not getting it” speak up, and that the rest of the group will work to ensure that person gets up to speed. Study groups only work if everyone leaves a little smarter than before.

Set goals: Set up a goal for each study session…prepping for an upcoming exam, completing a case study, working on ABG interpretation or practicing for a skills check-off. This will keep everyone on track with the goal of that particular session.

Set clear expectations as to HOW you will study: Will you take turns quizzing each other? Maybe you’ll choose a leader to present a complex topic that others in the group are having trouble with. Another idea is to meet with your pals to review the day’s notes…filling in questions and helping each other through difficult concepts.

Address the learning styles of your group members: It would be great if all your group members learned in the same way, but even if you don’t, you can still incorporate various styles to meet the needs of everyone in the group.


The information, including but not limited to, audio, video, text, and graphics contained on this website are for educational purposes only. No content on this website is intended to guide nursing practice and does not supersede any individual healthcare provider’s scope of practice or any nursing school curriculum. Additionally, no content on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Do you have some study group pearls of wisdom to impart? Share them in the comments below!

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