How to survive group assignments

Xiaosheng (Exy) is a third year Arts student majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Law and Justice. An interesting fact: she watered Tolkien’s grave in Oxford during her time on exchange!

Group assignments. Most people don’t want to do them, but this is university and in the words of Cersei Lannister, ‘we don’t get the things we want.’

They can suck, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily will. The lovely Daphane has previously written a post about how to play your part well here. I have to add that a group is only as strong as its weakest link. Here are some tips to help out the team as well as yourself.

Tip 1: Take an interest in group members

Source: Tumblr
Source: Tumblr

Let’s face it. Everyone else probably wants to be there as much as you do. However, a ‘who-cares’ attitude isn’t going to get you an H1 and will probably reinforce your resentment, so you might as well leave that the same place you left your pyjamas: at home.

Instead, start taking an interest in your fellow group members. Being friendly with them makes things run much more smoothly. Believe me, the more you hear about people, the more bearable it is to work with them.


Tip 2: Make the venue fun friends
Source: UntappedCities

Atmosphere is important. A café, for instance, will relax people and make a group assignment easier to navigate, compared to a library, which forces you to work and nothing else. Meeting at a friendlier venue could also dispel the awkwardness and open people up, which increases the chance of them contributing.

Tip 3: Make sure everyone has a say and goes over their parts

Source: Tumblr
Source: Tumblr

For whatever reason, people might not be willing to contribute. However, making sure that everyone has a chance to say something makes a person feel valued. A good way to execute this is to rehearse your presentation. Even if you’re preparing a written assessment, verbalise it. This not only makes the content more coherent, but also shows who hasn’t done the work. Furthermore, it will sharpen your communication and team-playing skills, which are very important for life after university.

Tip 4: If all else fails, say something.

Source: Memegenerator

Sometimes people just don’t want to work, no matter what you try to do. That’s okay, but what isn’t is the fact that you paid just as much as them to take the course and then have to do their work for them. That’s when it’s time to say something. There are a number of ways to do this. One is to talk to your tutor, but another is to hold a group discussion, including the uncooperative member, to talk about their lack of work… In this case, saying something is much better than saying nothing.

Tip 5: Set an example

Source: PicHost
Source: PicHost

Start with yourself. If you want your group to do well, then maybe being a hard worker yourself can set an example and prompt your fellow group members to follow suit. At the end of the day, you can at least say that you’ve tried your best.

Ways to do this? Again, I’ll refer you to Daphane’s post here.


Thanks for reading! I hope these have helped. Good luck and have fun!

– Exy


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