Study groups are not for everyone and they aren’t for every class. But at least once in law school, almost everyone finds themselves attending some form of a voluntary group study session. While some study groups seem open to new people showing up and others seem to require sponsorship by a current member and proof of your projected contribution, most study groups are made up of more or less the same personalities. Note: these personalities are not mutually exclusive.
This person learns by explaining or “teaching” material. They’ll usually direct the group through the study session, suggesting, “Let’s start with this practice problem.” They’ll lead the way through a discussion of all relevant and potentially relevant details, and when everyone thinks every facet has been covered, Teacher will throw out a, “make sure you don’t forget to factor in X,” in the interest of being comprehensive. Teachers have been known to take calls at all hours the night before a final to answer questions, and are unfailingly reliable and thorough.
This person is related to people who comment on articles or videos on the internet only saying “First!” Study Group Gunner wants to answer every question posed by Teacher first. This typically isn’t a problem because most of the rest of the group is content to take in Teacher’s wisdom without comment. Study Group Gunner is not always a Classroom Gunner, but the two may occasionally overlap.
The Know it All
Know It All knows the answer to every single question. Why are they even in a study group? It’s clear they have all of the information. Know it All will sometimes say things like, “we could skip that” or “we know” when often “we” is just Know it All, and the rest of the group is in the dark about the concept and its explanation. Know it All seems to believe that everything he/she already knows, the rest of the group already knows (or should).
The group has to meet somewhere. Whether it’s somewhere in the law school, a coffee shop, or in a residence, each group includes a host. Study Group Host takes two forms: their residence is most appropriate for hosting and Host accepts the job, or Host is the person who brought everyone together and is the group leader no matter the location. Both forms of Host have basic hosting skills down, but the former usually makes a snack, arranges the furniture so it’s more conducive to group discussion, and points out where all available outlets are.
The Snack Bringer
This person never shows up to a meeting empty handed. The type of snack may vary, but this group member always walks through the door with a container in hand. Snack Bringer can be counted on to (1) bring something everyone likes (2) have made it well (3) and have made enough for everyone to enjoy without regard for rationing. Snack Bringers aren’t sure they bring anything intellectually to the group, but they are sure they bake well, so they stick to their strengths.
The Quiet Ones
These people don’t say much, if anything. But they do always show up. Their contributions typically come in these forms: nodding while Teacher speaks, the occasional question, confirming or denying specific information, passing on a valuable outline, and knowing all of the details of the exam: length, time, date, place, format, etc.
This group member is worried about everything. The final is open book & open note? They’re worried a tab might fall off a page—how will they know what page the notes of the advisory committee on FRCP 12(b)(6) are on without a tab? What if the tab gets smudged and they actually have to open the book to read why they put a tab there? What if that topic Worrier overheard the professor mentioning to one student in passing on day 3 of class as everyone left the room shows up on the exam? A Worrier is easy to spot because he/she spends a lot of time wringing his/her hands, frowning, and starts most sentences with “I just . . . ” and “It worries me that . . . ” and “ummm, what about . . . ”
Found most commonly in study groups organized by the school for 1Ls and in review sessions put on by professors, these people seem to believe that if they just show up, they will retain the information being discussed around them. They virtually never contribute, and rarely appear to be paying attention. Osmosis Learners also typically carry their books with them everywhere, as if they will absorb the books’ contents through such prolonged contact.
Good luck getting through this round of finals—with or without a study group.
Post image from Flickr.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/utslibrary/4762658760