Forming Effective Study Groups

Study groups aren't for everyone. However, a majority of law students find that participation in a study group, at least at some level, is helpful. Whether to join a study group is a personal decision. If you do join a study group, how that group functions is also at the discretion of the group members. The group should be flexible and tailored to suit the group's unique needs.

Why Join a Study Group?

  • The group provides comfort and security
  • Members can motivate and learn from each other
  • Talking through material helps with understanding and retention
  • Groups can generate different points of view and novel arguments that you might not come up with on your own
  • You can easily miss or misunderstand subtle points; an effective group can keep its members on the right track

What Makes a Study Group Effective?

A study group is most effective when all the members have a common goal that they are working together to reach. The parameters of the study group should be set based on the group goals. The following guidelines can help ensure that your study group is effective:

  • Set goals for each meeting
  • Set a regular meeting schedule and stick to it
  • Keep socializing to a minimum
  • Keep the meetings focused
  • Require that each member come to the meetings prepared

Which Students Should I Seek as Partners?

Look for classmates...

  • Who are well-prepared for class
  • Who listen well when others talk (and don't dominate discussions)
  • Who share your academic goals
  • Who have similar study schedules

What Sorts of Things Should We Do in Our Group Meetings?

There are no hard and fast rules about what should take place during a study group meeting, but the following activities are typical:

  • Discuss material to review what professors have covered in class
  • Discuss upcoming materials to prepare for class
  • Exchange outline ideas, but don't exchange the outlines themselves until you've made your own first
  • Take practice exams
  • Review and criticize each other's practice exam answers
  • Exchange study tips
  • Help keep each other motivated

Study Group Don'ts

  • Don't allow the meeting to become a social or gossip session
  • Don't use the group to share the workload: you should brief cases and create study tools on your own and then compare your work with others
  • Don't allow the group to become a substitute for individual learning
  • Don't allow the group to become too large so that each member can contribute
  • Don't do all your studying in a group setting
  • Don't stay in a study group that is not working for you


Please visit Academic Success & Bar Programs in Warren Hall room 206, call (619) 260-4793 or email


Academic Success and Bar Programs
Warren Hall, Room 206
Phone: (619) 260-4793
Fax: (619) 260-7715


Mon. 8:30-6:30 p.m.
Tue. 8:30- 5 p.m.
Wed. 9:30-5 p.m.
Thur., Fri. 8:30-5 p.m.

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