How Long Should A Study Session Be

View of three smiling students engaged and chatting while sitting on outdoor stairs, interacting with an open laptop and smartphoneWhen there’s a major exam looming or a final just around the corner, studying can feel like an overwhelming task. Do you study alone or with peers? Do you digest the material better in chunks, one full day or cramming the night before?

Whether it’s a chapter or a full semester worth of notes, textbooks, learning – allow for video conferencing technology to provide you with a study session that helps you feel more confident learning and retaining course material.

By adding in a video component, studying becomes about collaborative learning making the study session more dimensional and information-dense. It’s easy to schedule in advance or on the spot, include peers from anywhere, and compare and contrast notes.

Manage your time by establishing what exactly you’re studying for. Do you need to prepare for a big upcoming test or are you looking to pore over your notes from class as a way to absorb and soak up the info here and now? By taking a look at how your course is laid out, you can determine the rhythm and flow of upcoming tests and the period of time off you may have to organize a study group or do some solo studying.

Solo or Group Studying?

Studying on your own is par for the course. Naturally, you will spend time writing notes, making flashcards, reading books, and re-reading passages, but organizing group studying sessions will get you to the next level – and maybe make you a friend while you’re at it.

With video conferencing, students are provided with the unique opportunity to be able to stay in contact at an arm’s reach with other students in other cities and countries.

Over the shoulder view of masked woman sitting at desk video conferencing a masked man on laptopThis presents a great way to learn about other people’s experiences and connect with them to join forces. Assuming everyone is a diligent student and wants to get good grades, banding together in an online study group has many benefits.

A mix of both solo and group studying will solidify your understanding of the material and give you a voice when it comes to working with others.

(alt-tag: Over the shoulder view of masked woman sitting at desk video conferencing a masked man on laptop)

A General Rule Of Thumb

There’s an old rule that states for every hour of class, there should be two hours of studying. While some classes are much easier, in reality, you may not need the 2:1 ratio, but as a guideline, it’s helpful to keep in mind.

Depending on how classes are laid out and how intensive the course is, consider right from the start, organizing a weekly or bi-weekly study group for the class you foresee needing the most support with. If there’s dense course material that can be broken up with a discussion and sharing of notes, start early to avoid cramming towards the end.

Short Vs. Long Study Sessions

A one-hour video conference is perfect for administrative duties. It works at the beginning when you need to delegate tasks, set up a schedule, and introduce new faces. But once the course material gets rolling, one hour might not be able to cut it. Take into consideration how some people may be running late or may need to leave early, how there may be technical difficulties, or that it may take a bit of time to warm up and get started.

On the other hand, a longer three-hour video conferencing session might feel daunting and hard to schedule. Plus, staying put and using so much brainpower can feel exhausting and bring on fatigue.

The Best Of Both Worlds

Before engaging in an online study session, determine the end of the goal of your gathering. Is it to swap notes? Incite conversation? Breakdown complex concepts? Gain clarity on the chapter?

Also, by establishing the frequency of your gatherings, you can gain a better idea of how long the session can be. Aim for 1.5-2.5 hours with adequate breaks. For the brain to actually understand and contain the material by forming new memories, studying flat out isn’t the best way to memorize.

Set up frequent breaks to let the newly acquired information settle. Change your physiology by having a movement session or doing jumping jacks. This breaks the large chunk of time into more easily digestible chunks, so while it’s a big block of time, in reality, it feels like shorter bursts of studying.

Use the Pomodoro Technique: 5-10 minute breaks every 30 minutes and then a longer 15-25 minute break once you’ve reached 4 “Pomodoros.”

A Few Do’s And Don’ts

Keep these quickie tips in mind for the most effective study groups when you’re in a video chat:

  • Do turn on your camera – Make the session more dynamic and real when you can see people’s faces.
  • Don’t snack and drink – Save this for before or after for a distraction-free video chat.
  • Do mute – Keep people on mute for less disruption but invite audible sharing and comments when the time is right.
  • Don’t spend all the time talking – Break out into smaller groups or have quiet reading time.
  • Do get up and move – Get up and shake it off so you can get your blood moving and ward off fatigue.
  • Don’t take on all responsibility – Share tasks every week so everyone feels part of the group and no one feels weighed down with added responsibilities.
  • Do moderate and host – Delegate hosting duties, assign someone to share the transcription, etc.
  • Don’t prioritize cramming – “Cramming” can be helpful, but getting your study group set up early is far more advantageous!
  • Do solo study before bed – Read your notes before bed to let it sink in while you’re sleeping.
  • Don’t worry about how much you study – do manage your study time!

View of young woman sitting on couch and young man on floor, using his hand to gesticulate while interacting with open laptop at home

Let FreeConference provide your group with free technology to connect and study online. Give your studying sessions a one-up when you can send out Invitations and Reminders to keep everyone in the loop or use the Time Zone Scheduler to align classmates near and far. Illustrate complicated formulas on the Online Whiteboard, transcribe the conversation with Smart Summaries, and save valuable Text Chats to add additional information to your notes.

Online meetings provide more value to your study groups when you can share, dissect, and discuss ideas and meaning in real-time, any time from anywhere!