Do you work better in groups? Do you like having someone to go through the struggle with, with whom you occasionally have the well intentioned elbow to elbow competition? Then a study buddy may be perfect for you! Preparing for a standardized test or any intense exam can be brutal and the benefits of having someone to endure it with you can make it just a bit more pleasant. Working closely with someone during a stressful time can also have a very negative impact on your experience. Here are some pros and cons to consider when thinking about having a study buddy.
Pro: Keeping you on track
By studying with someone else you have someone to help you figure out how to tackle certain concepts. Working with someone else also gives an added sense of accountability. While the outcome ultimately effects you alone, having someone who expects you on a weekly or daily basis to have done a certain amount of work makes you more inclined to do it. It also forces you to designate certain amounts of time to meet and think about that work rather than just saying you will do it eventually.
Pro: Makes it fun
Assuming that you like the person who you are preparing with, spending time with someone else will make the work a bit more enjoyable. Often the college process can seem a bit lonely as you spend countless hours investigating colleges, filling out applications, and stressing out alone. Having someone to work with as you prepare for your standardized test cuts out some of that alone time. Once you have studied, it also provides an immediate opportunity to de-stress by just hanging out for a bit. Even if you do not have time to spend hours together in addition to working, the socialization that happens in between practice problems can be surprisingly uplifting.
Part of the reason that there is so much alone time during the college process is because there is a competitive element. If you apply to the same school as someone else, this can be interpreted as fighting for a limited number of spots. Standardized tests are ultimately meant to quantitatively measure a person’s abilities in a given area. For some the light competitive edge is a good way to motivate you to constantly improve. For others the very tangible competition that comes with working with someone else is an unnecessary stress. When selecting a specific study partner it is important to know if you are applying to many of the same schools or if there are other reasons that competition will be a big part of your studying. If so you both need to be open about this and how you feel about it.
Con: Divides attention
If you work with someone else, your study time together will not be exclusively about you. You will spend time working on challenges you are not facing and explaining concepts you understand perfectly. Depending on who you choose to work with the relationship may even be unbalanced and you may become more of a tutor than a study buddy.
Con: Added Stress
While working with someone else provides many benefits it does add a large amount of stress that you would not face studying alone. You have to coordinate your busy schedule with someone else’s, find time for work you could otherwise postpone, and worry about maintaining a healthy work relationship with your partner. A lot of effort could potentially be spent in just making sure that you are actually studying together and both benefitting from that work. The comparative easiness of working by yourself might be worth the loneliness.
Studying for a standardized test with other people does have a lot of benefits, but also comes with many problems. If you think the pros outweigh the cons, there are definitely ways to have a productive study group. It really depends on you, the people you choose to work with, and how compatible your personalities and study habits are.