Exams – how to pass without (much) stress ( 2 / 4)

2.   Work with a group of like-minded people

Ultimately of course exams are individual assessments so it will be down to you to make sure you are ready. But this process is made FAR easier by teaming up with a small group of your fellow students. You need to be sure that they all have the same aim in mind as you do so you can trust that they will all contribute to the revision. I recommend a group of 4 or 5 maximum for this. I have seen it work best when the group allocates specific topics to revise and then joins together to share their learning. It is probably effective because peer pressure makes you ensure you really have learned the topic and that you are far more likely to understand something if you have to explain it to somebody else. At Birkbeck I developed an app that enables groups to have a dedicated channel of communication for this sort of work – more details here https://birkbecklearningapp.com

But you might agree on something like a WhatsApp group. You don’t necessarily have to meet all that often but when you do, it is best to agree beforehand to focus on the work and if you do want to socialise, then this happens after the work is done. A common form of tension in these groups is that some people free-load and don’t contribute. Setting out the rules clearly will help get round this and other potential difficulties.


The benefits are significant though and worth the effort of assembling a group. The key one is that you can derive confidence in the material by presenting summaries of your revision to others. You can learn from their work too and know that others have similar worries and concerns to you. And working with others give you a sense of purpose that you might not find when working alone – perhaps unsure whether you are doing the right revision.


I have written a book which gives more details about this and everything else you need to know about studying at university.



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