5 Tips for Making Study Guides

Crafting a study guide is an effective way to review material from class, readings and past exams to prepare for the final. Here are five ways to help you create your own:

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1. Write it out by hand

While typing out study guides might save time, studies have shown that the movements of writing help you remember the material better. Writing out your study guide will also force you to slow down to write legibly, which could give you time to think about what you want to include and where you want to put it.

2. Doodle in the margins

Writing out study guides by hand also allows you to easily draw helpful illustrations of important systems or maps of different concepts. Drawings or other creative ways of organizing information can also help you avoid writing large blocks of text, which can be hard to read. A picture is worth a thousand words!

3. Color coordinate

Many of us enjoy using an array of highlighter colors when annotating or taking notes, so making a study guide should be no different. You can use different colors to separate relevant topics or to categorize people, places, dates, etc.

4. Review past exams

Though we'd all love to bury and forget tough test or quizzes after getting them back, making a study guide forces you to look over past tests and correct your previous mistakes. Plus, if the final is going to contain questions that are similar to ones you’ve seen before, reviewing past exams also will help you familiarize yourself with the format of the final.  

5. The 5 W's

Writing down the who, what, when, where and why of different materials from class is a great way to test what you remember and to make sure you understand the basics of certain topics or concepts. The 5 W's will help you organize the important takeaways from any of the materials that might show up on the final.