How to get the best out of group study - Sage IAS How to get the best out of group study - Sage IAS

On the long journey of preparation, a candidate needs a group to study with. It keeps one motivated and also help in covering the enormous size of the syllabus with mutual help. Below are 9 tips to get the best out of group study.

  1. The group should be small but core- The size of the group should be the first thing to keep in mind. A group should not be too big at all. Although it depends upon the degree of cohesion of the members, but generally observed, large groups do not remain focused for a long time. A team of 5 is more than sufficient, although even 2 people are generally found to make a very productive group.
  2. The prime goal of all must be UPSC- It is recommended that the prime goal of all the members should be UPSC exam. Even they are preparing with job or pursuing some academic course, the degree of seriousness must match. It will not demotivate or annoy the more serious members of the group.
  3. All must be contributing members- A group must not carry passengers, i.e. those who are only to take something out of group study and contribute nothing for various reasons. Such members spoil the spirit of the group study and their presence slowly reduces the inputs from the efficient members of the group.  
  4. Members should complement each other- The members of the group should work in tandem and try to divide the workload. Obviously, one cannot study for the other, however, making notes from different magazines and newspapers etc. can take the study to new levels. A little planning with group members can be of great help in this.
  5. With competition, it should also be about cooperation- An obvious spirit of mutual competition exists in preparing for such competitive exams, which if confined to certain limits creates a constructive environment. However, due to many factors, it gets out of hand and gives rise to nagging behaviours like hiding notes or misinforming others. It may seem childish to others, but such developments make it impossible to work. One should make sure not to be part of these activities, let alone start them in the first place.
  6. The sources should be diverse enough- The width of the syllabus is too much for one to handle (width- number of topics one has to study, depth- the details of a single topic one need to explore). Therefore, source studied by group members should be diverse enough to bring in the various topics. It’s better if different members study different sources, apart from the necessary books which all have to read.
  7. Better if the optional subject coincides- It’s better if the optional subject of the group members coincide. Although, not all members need to have the same optional subject, at least one member of the group should have same optional subject as you do as it will give the totality to your preparation.
  8. It should meet regularly- An active group meeting in person is likely to bear better results than a group active online or in hibernation, seldom meeting. The purpose of a group should be to get motivated apart from information sharing. However, online groups for specific purpose cannot be rejected, but they cannot substitute the physical groups in their utility.
  9. It should have a scope of enjoyment- The group should not be very formal or official. It’s not to suggest that the group should act like a gang. However, all members must feel comfortable with each other. A light hearted group with fun talks has better communication and viscidness.

A group, if made solely for studies and friends chosen selectively can give surprising results. It will have a positive effect on your efficiency, can make the preparation easy and can reduce a lot of your burden. However, if a good group can make your life easy, a bad one will ruin the entire preparation and will take you away from your studies so slow that you will not even notice. Therefore, make group only if you find the right people, else it is better to study alone.

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