Studying tends to be a lonely sport. Quiet and methodical, as you try to exclude yourself from any and all distractions in a frantic attempt to revise that last biology topic for the upcoming exam. I beg to differ, however. After all, everything is better with friends. 

Throughout our school life, we are told – ‘Work on your own!’, ‘No talking in the classroom!’ – which hinders students’ ability to communicate and learn effectively. Humans are social creatures and the constant drilling of the concept of working alone directly opposes our nature. Studying with fellow students strengthens communication skills and makes the learning process speed up at an exponential rate. According to the Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications research article published in 2020, there is a direct correlation between peer instruction and the veracity of their response when posed with a difficult question. Across the 208 participants in the study, the vast majority felt more confident and were overall more accurate in their answers once they had discussed it with a partner. 

Adaptation period 

Personally, having lived in many different places, I have learned to adapt – and adapt quickly. One thing, however, has always remained the same – my love for learning. Whether it be academic or social, my personal growth has always been greatest when achieved with the help of friends and family. Having input from people of different ages, nationalities, and areas of interest has helped me become a well-rounded person and learn to love all nuances of life. 

Learning together 

Throughout the tough IGCSE exam period, the support, both received and given, to and from my classmates was key to grinding through long evening study sessions in the library. Sharing knowledge, asking questions, and teaching each other, simultaneously, solidified the information and fill in gaps in our learning. In addition, the opportunity to learn from one another’s mistakes was invaluable and helped me speed up my revision. Keeping in mind the amount of time spent pouring over textbooks and past papers together, our relationships grew stronger and we all made memories we can look back on and laugh about. After all, a tough experience plus time is the perfect recipe for comedy. 

Taking this into consideration, my motivation to achieve my goals this academic year has doubled, if not tripled. My yearning to learn has never been greater and with the added freedom of being in the sixth form, I want to make the most out of school life and the sense of community it has to offer, which is why I took up a new venture in online tutoring. 

The international education system can be incredibly confusing with all the different exams, option choices, and time lost due to COVID-19, which I found to be true as I had to move across Europe and make choices that were to determine my future. As a result, many students and parents alike, get sucked into a black hole of confusion and misinformation. How is this relevant, though? Well, by offering to tutor, I have been able to help out students in similar situations as my own to become more confident in their knowledge and choices. Personal pros and cons? Quite frankly, I cannot find a reason why you wouldn’t do it. I have found that, by preparing for each class and adapting to each student’s needs and quirks, I have my own knowledge, learned to improvise on the spot when needed and communicated effectively in order to create a connection with the student, which is the key to teaching.

This is precisely why peer instruction works – we are able to understand each other’s problems and find effective and logical methods to work around those obstacles. With exam season creeping menacingly towards us, we must all find it in ourselves to ask for help and learn from other’s mistakes. Work smart, not hard. 

Katerina Yoncheva

I’m Katerina Yoncheva and I was born in Bulgaria but also raised in the United Kingdom and Gran Canaria. I’m currently studying at the Canterbury School of Gran Canaria and thoroughly enjoying my first year in the Sixth Form. I have decided to focus my studies on mathematics and the sciences, balancing them with my love for English literature and language. In the future, I hope to prosper with a Degree in Aerospace Engineering.