One of the sure fire methods of breezing through an exam is to create a study guide. It is a great way to organize all the information in one subject matter into manageable chunks. Whether you are in high school, college or taking a master’s program, you will surely benefit from a study guide.
There are different types of study guides. Some of these are:
- Concept map and branching diagram. This is a visual representation of the relevant information in map form. Starting from a general topic, you move on or branch to more specific key words
- Comparison chart. Here you create a table or chart in order to group the information visually. If the subject matter deals with the similarities and differences between facts, processes, theories and others, this is a good way of organizing this information.
- Concept or flash card. Here you write down the key concept on the front of the card. On the back, write notes, definitions, examples, summaries, diagrams and other visuals that will help you understand the concept better. If you study authors, flash cards are a great tool for learning.
- Diagram. This is a great tool to illustrate procedures, stages, steps and processes. It is a flowchart of a specific subject matter or concept.
- Time Line. This allows you to arrange the information in sequence (chronologically). Time lines are useful for classes in history, political science, biology, and art.
To create a study guide, follow these steps:
1. Gather all your study materials. This should include lecture notes, homework, handouts, previous exams, books and other resources on the topic.
2. Organize the materials into manageable groups.
- Group by type of materials – Pile notes together, homework in another pile, handouts in another group etc.
- Group chronologically – Arrange all notes, homework, handouts, exams, others according to the order they were taught in class or to the date the topics happened in history.
3. Assign colored tabs to the materials. Depending on how you organized your materials in #2, you can use color coded sticky notes or tabs to make it easier for you to look for a specific material. For example, red tabs will be for notes, green for homework, blue for exams and so on.
4. Write your study guide. Make a general outline of the subject on a piece of paper or a word processing document. From each broad topic, using your lecture notes, make a list of the important points. From a broad subject, the study guide becomes more focused. You should only have the key points to serve as a guide for you to remember the topic. Look for key words, definitions, important dates, quotes and passages. Don’t forget to include the sources of information whether it is page numbers or web links. You may need to go back to these sources later on.
You can make your study notes guide before a major test. Better yet, begin the guide as soon as you study reading, math, biology or any other school subjects. Lay the foundations at the start of the term and keep on building on the guide. This way, you can have more time for other study activities. Ask your teacher if he has his own study teaching guide that can be shared with the class.
A study guide is an essential part of any student’s life. Study guides organize the information in a manner that you can easily understand and absorb. With a well prepared study guide, there’s no reason for you not to ace your test.