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Discussion and Preparation are the Keys to Group Success

The quality of group thinking and results depends on participation and discussion from everyone in the group.  To make progress in group study, everyone in the group must have the opportunity to openly exchange ideas and experiences.  Research shows that you remember information better when you have had a good discussion about it.

To make sure that everyone can participate and benefits from their participation, each member of the group must prepare the materials on their own before attending the group study session.

Joining/Creating a Study Group

Your study group should contain no more than six (6) team members.  This will help make sure that all members get time to add to the discussion.  It will also make it easier to schedule time together.

Creating a study group is like putting together a football team.  You are joining together a group of players to create a team that will work together against all odds to reach a common goal!

  • The Leader.  You will need a person who will keep the group on track when they are losing steam.  Consider choosing a leader who is an officer and can really lead the group.
  • The Team Members.  You will need team members who are all willing and eager to pull their own weight and specialize in a particular "position."

And consider the make-up of the team if you have a whole team of quarterbacks, there will be no one there to catch the ball.  Consider each person's strengths and weaknesses.  Try to form a team in which each member is known for being really good at something and can teach the rest of the group that information.  For example, one member may know a lot about General Orders while another is more knowledgeable about Rules and Regulations.

Study Session Format

Your study sessions should run anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours in length.  This will make sure that you have enough time to cover the prepared material.  After the session, you may want to take a short break and review the material on your own, to reinforce what you just learned. 

Remember, while the study group helps explore and confirm information, you still need to study on your own.

During the first meeting, set up the study group process and decide on the schedule of the study sessions.  For example, you might decide to schedule six (6) two-hour study sessions over a three-week period.

Session 1 Identify members of the group (remember, no more than 6 members)

  • Have the group select a team leader.
  • Appoint a note taker, or rotate note taking on discussions and actions.
  • Set up rules.  For example:
    • o Speak one at a time

      o Keep a positive atmosphere

      o Don't judge people

      o No negativity

      o Recognize that learning involves some pain

      o Everyone must come to the session prepared

  • Conduct an organizational meeting to start.  Use a flipchart to:
    • o List the key points of the fire lieutenant job

      o Decide how to best approach learning the key points

      o Set up a study schedule

        Divide up the subjects per session

        Assign responsibilities for who will lead which subject

      o Discuss and decide who will do what (gathering the materials, taking notes, etc.)

  • Summarize and repeat the plans to make sure that everyone is in agreement and is committed to:
    • o Fully preparing for each subject ahead of the session;

      o Leading the group in discussion; and,

      o Preparing 3-5 sample questions on the assigned subject.

  • Close the first meeting.

To make sure that you have time to accomplish all of your goals, you may want to divide up the time in the rest of your study sessions as follows:


# of Minutes



Review main points from the previous meeting.


Question and Answer and cross-testing about the previous materials covered in the group.


Review this week's learning points.




Leader of that session will ask specific questions to "quiz" the group, and the group will openly respond.


Summary of session and preview of next session.


If you would like to review additional promotional exam prep packages, go to our Assessment Center Exam Prep pages at the links below:

Promotional Oral Interview Exam Prep

Fire Tactical Exam Prep

Subordinate Counseling Exam Prep

Lieutenant/Captain/Battalion/Deputy Chief In-Basket Exam Prep

Leaderless Group Exam Prep

Test-taking Strategies & Career Articles

Don McNea Fire School's Assessment Center Exam Preparation has been put together by Fire Chiefs who are nationally-recognized authors and who have been assessors for thousands of assessment center examinations.

As always, all of our Assessment Center Exam Prep products come with a no-risk guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund 100% of the product cost no questions asked.


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