Why should I study with a partner or group when I can study better on my own?

Oct 22, 2021
There are many benefits to studying with a peer study partner or a group and reasons why you should consider it. This post outlines guidelines on acceptable practices and things to look out for.

Why should I find a peer study partner or group?

If you learned independently throughout your academic career, you are likely going through the CPA certification program by yourself as well. You may have been academically successful studying alone in the past, so why consider forming a study group now? Why not stick with the process that has gotten you so far? If it’s not broken why fix it, right?

While technical self-study is still an excellent method to learn the materials, this approach neglects a critical element in your preparation: analysing and marking a peer’s response from the perspective of a marker.

Why would I benefit from peer marking and debriefing?

When you debrief your own case response and apply the feedback guide, your subconscious tries its best to help you navigate the writing as quickly as possible; therefore, you may be reading what you meant to say, rather than what was explicitly said on the page. You may not recognize your brain unconsciously filling in the gaps and glazing over the errors that someone else (for example, an exam marker) would have caught. 

To test this, see if your brain easily read the following jumbled paragraph (find out why).

I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

Or can your brain easily keep track of the basketball in this awareness test?

Advantages of peer marking and debriefing

By marking and providing feedback for a peer, not only do you get an opportunity to obtain additional feedback (for free!), but you also get a rare opportunity to think from a marker’s perspective. For example, what triggers you to be “on the fence” with your peer’s response? What elements are missing or lacking that lead you to give your peers low grades? What strengths do you see in your peer’s writing that makes it easy for you to award a high ranking without hesitation, etc. Observing effective and ineffective writing practices from the perspective of a marker will help you gather insights on how to improve your own writing to ensure your response is clear. Additionally, analysing others’ writing like a marker will help improve your own critical thinking, judgement, and writing (enabling competencies). 

Lastly, marking with a peer group is also a great way to share best practices! You will develop strategies to manage response time and improve writing throughout the CPA PEP program. 

I’m convinced, now how do I find a peer study partner or group?

Are you worried you don’t know anyone in your personal or professional network who is also going through the CPA program? There are lots of ways for you to find the perfect partner, depending on where you are at in the program, even during Covid times. Here are some places you can look:
  1. Online: Visit the CPAWSB Peer Studying page for more general information.
  2. D2L newsfeed: For each module/course you are enrolled in, we create a newsfeed post near the start date with information on how to participate in peer studying, how to put yourself on the list, and how to obtain the list.
  3. D2L discussion forums: For each module/course you are enrolled in, there is a separate discussion forum for individuals looking for peer study partners or groups to post.
  4. D2L Intro to PEP: If you are not currently enrolled in a module, no problem! The Intro to the CPA PEP module is always available for you, which has a dedicated discussion forum for peer studying that you can use anytime.

What should I watch out for?

When engaging with peer study partners, keep in mind that you are responsible for ensuring that you comply with the CPAWSB Learner Conduct Guide and the CPAWSB training contract. Watch out that you are NOT plagiarizing or enabling plagiarism. This means not copying others’ work and not sharing your work, answers, or templates with others. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Group chats/threads such as WhatsApp or Reddit: We encourage discussion, but you must submit your own work.
  • Using sharing websites such as Course Hero or Chegg: you may want more resources available at your fingertips. However, by uploading past assignments to these websites, you are enabling plagiarism, and it does not matter if this was intentional or not. Also, by accessing these websites, and copying previous responses, you are committing plagiarism by not submitting your own work.