Do you have a Study Partner? If you don’t, get one! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Two heads are better than one”. It’s true. When it comes to learning and remembering the research shows: 

  • People forget 40% of what they learned in 20 minutes, 77% of what they learned in six days, and 90% after one month.1

That’s kind of depressing isn’t it! I’m sure you have played the phone game. One person whispers a phrase into another person’s ear and as the whispers move around the group, the phrase is different than what is when it began. Why is that? The person listening perceives what was whispered in their ear. Sometime the person didn’t hear clearly, sometimes our brains interject personal meaning into what the person said, and sometimes the person did not understand what they heard.

Now transfer that information to a lecture given by your MED/Surg instructor. If you are only using your ears, eye, and brain, are you confident you will remember everything the instructor said? If you have a study partner, there are two brains, two sets of ears and eyes to recall what was said in class.

Why do you NEED a study partner?

Once you get together with your study partner, chances are your partner will remember something you forgot or interrupted information differently than you did. That is a benefit to have someone else’s perspective.

  1. Divide the work! It seems impossible to read all the chapters assigned in each class. 
    1. Divide the chapters with your study partner. You cover more ground. You read half and your partner reads the other half.
    2. Then when you meet to study, teach each other what you read from your chapters. That will increase what you retain and solidify the information in your mind when you explain it to your study partner
  2. You learn to be responsible, because you have another person counting on you. That added pressure to do what is needed to succeed, will increase your confidence once you master the routine it will create.
  3. Proofread each other’s papers. 
  4. Encourage each other when overwhelmed.
  5. Someone to ask the stupid questions. You could be dedicated enough to look up those questions, but we all know it’s so much easier to ask someone you trust. Then, if you both don’t know, look it up!
  6. Quiz each other. You MUST know lab values, terminology, medications, side effects, treatments, patient teaching, and so much more. Quiz each other. Make 3x5 or 5x7 cards with this information.
  7. Hold each other accountable! Which means, No slacking off! When you don’t feel like doing school work, you have a partner to encourage you, push you, and keep you on task
  8. You have a partner to take notes in class, when you’re sick or your car breaks down, and you miss class. Without your study partner, you would miss out on that day’s lecture, lecture notes, and additional information the instructor added, that wasn’t in the syllabus.
  9. Those students who study with a partner have a higher chance of passing their classes and the NCLEX.

How to find a Study Partner?

Two (2) Options:

  1. Pick a stranger.
    • Post on the school online café, library, or department bulletin boards.
    • Ask a classmate you don’t really know well, but you believe they might be a good study partner
    • Find someone in your dorm who is in the same major as you and taking the same classes. It doesn’t matter if your classes meet at different times, if you have the same instructor.
  2. Ask a friend who is in your class.
    • If you believe you can work well together, then go for it!
    • If your friend is not going to take studying seriously, *Warning sign* keep your friend, but find a new study partner.
    • Don’t get distracted and off topic. That is easy to do with friends.

How to Study with a Study Partner?

  1. Schedule a consistent study session every week or twice a week.
  2. Study in the same place every time.
  3. Bring your books, laptop, paper, 3x5 or 5x7 cards, pens/ pencils/highlighters
  4. Study in a mutually convenient, quiet place.
    • The library
    • An empty classroom
    • Meet before or after class – don’t meet if you are going to be rushed
    • Starbucks or a restaurant is not the best place to study, unless it is near empty due to distractions.
    • Avoid distraction, such as noise from conversations, music, TV is not the best setting for studying.
  5. Have a back-up plan, in case one of you is sick, must work, or can’t find a babysitter.
  6. Meet twice a week, if possible. Once, if that is all you can do.


Thalheimer, W. (2010, April). How Much Do People Forget? Retrieved August 21, 2017, from