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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

The Pros and Cons of an SAT Study Group

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Each year, millions of students across the country take the SAT. Knowing that this test will shape their college admissions process, many students invest significant amounts of time and energy preparing for it. For many, the question is not whether they’ll prepare for the test, but rather how they’ll go about doing it.


In this post, we’re going to examine the pros and cons of SAT study groups. If you’re getting ready to take the SAT and you’re considering whether or not an SAT study group is right for you, don’t miss this important discussion.



What Is An SAT Study Group?

An SAT study group is simply a group of students who get together and study for the SAT. Sometimes these groups are formally organized through community centers, schools, or other organizations. Other times they are formed by the students themselves. In all cases, they are a form of group work in which different students will bring different experiences and strengths to the table. Whether they are an effective study technique will often depend largely on their format and the individual members that make up the group.



Pros of an SAT Study Group

Pooled Knowledge

One major benefit of the SAT study group is the breadth of knowledge that your peers are likely to bring. Not only will different members of the group possess different strengths and areas of expertise, but also they will ask questions that broaden your perspective and help to clarify areas in which you may have uncertainty too. Bringing together a group of people with different pools of knowledge will nearly always result in valuable exchanges of information and study techniques.



Teaching Others

If you are able to help other members of the group, you will reinforce your own knowledge along the way, too. Teaching is a great way to clarify what you already know. Getting a chance to explain difficult concepts, study techniques, or tests strategies will ingrain them even more firmly in your own mind.



Staying Accountable

Often times members of a study group set group goals and study assignments in between sessions. When this happens, members of the group help to hold one another accountable for what they’ve committed to learning. You will be more motivated to follow through and complete your work when you know others are counting on you to do so.

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Cons of an SAT Study Group


Of course, any time you get together with a group of peers there’s a chance that you will distract one another or get off track. This can be particularly true if the study group is student-led or if it consists of a number of close friends.


Sometimes, students choose to study with their friends. In this case, it can be easy to get off track discussing social events, school, or other irrelevant topics. Even if you aren’t best friends with much of the group, there will likely still be a temptation to socialize during study time.



Varying Levels of Proficiency

SAT study groups can sometimes be ineffective when their members arrive with broadly varying levels of knowledge or preparation. At times, this can mean that certain members of the group will gain more from it while others may not gain much at all.


If you arrive to a study group and realize that the rest of its members are much more advanced than you, you might feel uncomfortable asking questions, you could feel burden, or you could simply be left behind as they hurry forward to learn even more.


On the other hand, if you are far more proficient than other members of your group, you might spend all your time helping others. While teaching can be a great way to reinforce your own knowledge, it won’t do much to introduce new information, study techniques, or strategies. You might find that the group is ineffective for you due to an uneven exchange of knowledge.




Finally, scheduling can be tricky anytime you try to organize a group of busy high schoolers. Sometimes, this gets so involved that a few leaders of the group end up investing significant time just into planning the group meetings and working around a variety of schedules. If more time is spent trying to get together than is actually spent studying, you won’t come out on top.



A Word About Learning Styles

Another major consideration you should take into account when deciding whether to join an SAT study group is your style of learning. This doesn’t fall specifically fall under the category of pro or con, because it will vary from student to student, but it is something you should think about for you personally.


If you’re someone who learns best in a quiet environment, by reading and independently internalizing information, you might find that an SAT study group is more of a distraction than a benefit. On the other hand, if you learn best through discussing knowledge, through exchanging ideas, or through teaching others, you might find that an SAT study group is the perfect choice for you.


Ultimately, SAT study groups are an effective study tool but they should be just one piece of the bigger puzzle. It is unlikely you will learn everything you need to know simply by attending one. Instead, you should employ a variety of preparation techniques to ensure a well rounded and effective approach.


For more information about preparing for the SAT, don’t miss these important CollegeVine posts:


The CollegeVine Guide to SAT Scores: All Your Questions Answered

Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your SAT Test Day

How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT

Five SAT Strategies You Should Know

10 Tips to Prepare for the SAT


Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.


Want to know how your SAT score impacts your chances of acceptance to your dream schools? Our free Chancing Engine will not only help you predict your odds, but also let you know how you stack up against other applicants, and which aspects of your profile to improve. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to gain access to our Chancing Engine and get a jumpstart on your college strategy!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.