Life Hacks – Organising a Study Group
18 February, 2017
As the GAMSAT® Exam draws nearer and you meet others who want to get into medicine, chances are you’ll either consider starting, or joining, a study group. For some, study groups are the norm, whereas for others they bring back memories of the annoying group-work they were forced to do in first-year. Whatever your experiences, study groups can do a lot to promote motivation and social well-being. Here are some study-group life hacks and tips to help you make the most out of working with others as part of your GAMSAT® Exam preparation.
- Find some like-minded people who are taking the GAMSAT® Exam the same year that you are. If you’re taking a GAMSAT® Exam preparation course, keep your eyes open for people who you might like to work with. Try to meet and have a chat with others in your class to find people with similar study habits to your own. If your study habits are chalk and cheese when compared with someone else’s, then you’ll probably mix as well as oil and water in a study group. If you’re not taking a preparation course or yours doesn’t involve tutorials, then think outside the box and try to find people on social networking sites like Facebook or GAMSAT® Exam blogs.
- Be selective: avoid pessimists like the plague. Your study will inevitably involve a setback or two and you want to be surrounded with as much “positive force” as possible.
- Find an area which suits you all such as a university library, and avoid places which you’d usually use for relaxation. For example, ants and mosquitoes are more active in warmer weather, so avoid using a picnic blanket in your local park as your ‘study space’. Likewise, keep cafés for socialising and stick to spaces which are unlikely to host things which distract you such as music (or a television which runs Sky News 24/7).
- Make any space a clean study space with hand sanitiser! We’ve all been there – you finally find a free desk in the library big enough for your group, only to notice on closer inspection that it’s covered in gross sticky stuff. No problem – carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser in your bag; it weights next to nothing. Just up-end the bottle, shake a few drops over the table and wipe clean with a tissue. The alcohol will dissolve and remove most residues (hello GAMSAT® Exam chemistry!) as well as bacteria, so you wont have to worry about your study space making anyone sick before your all-important exam. I can’t even count the amount of times this has saved me from losing my books because they were permanently stuck to a desk by the remnants of someone’s sweet honey-soy takeaway dinner.
- Make use of your travel time – use it either for relaxation or to get a bit of extra work done by pulling out your laptop on the bus or train. You can schedule a list of things to conquer in your next group session.
- Try to get the most out of the resources you have. Schedule your study group at times when there are likely to be less people in the library (outside of semester time), use your laptop to keep a couple of books open at once instead of straining your back leaning on things, and if your laptop battery runs out because you’ve forgotten your charger, watch that problem-solving video by folding up your sunglasses and using them as a phone rest/holder.
- Make use of the apps on your phone…and ALL their powers to rid yourself of distractions. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber to name just a few, all have settings which allow you to mute notifications for a period of time. So, mute them for a couple of hours while you study to eliminate distractions for yourself and your new study-buddies.
- Invite a medical student to visit during one of your sessions and share the techniques or materials they used when they took the GAMSAT® Exam. If you don’t know any, ask someone in the group who does to arrange this, if possible. Sure, they’re already enrolled in medicine so they wont need to study with you, but having them drop by to tell you about what they’re doing right now will serve as motivation for all of you.
- Use constructive study techniques such as pomodoros. Bibiana wrote a great post describing this technique and its application in a group context which can be found here. Good structure and discipline are the hallmark of an effective study group and cultivating these will only add to your productivity.
Using the GAMSAT® Exam hacks and tips above to maximise your group work should help you to maintain your motivation and sanity while you prepare for the GAMSAT® Exam and ultimately pursue a career in medicine. Whether at university or in the field, working with people is unavoidable and study groups give you the chance to meet some people early-on who could become your fellow students, or even your colleagues a few years down the track.