Study Guide to the Rescue: How to Create Your Own
“Will you give us a study guide?”
If I had a dollar for every time a student asked me this question, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I would be relaxing in my lounge chair on a tropical island somewhere.
Seriously, I was asked this for every exam, test, and quiz I gave for 15+ years. I always had study guides for exams and tests, but I drew the line at quizzes. And some of my students seemed shocked, shocked I tell you, that I didn’t provide study guides for quizzes.
Now that I tutor, though, I realize that those kids were totally playing me. Few of my tutoring clients get study guides for tests, let alone quizzes. Most of the time, students are told what topics will be on the test and that is it. The rest is up to them. (Let’s just say I spend a fair amount of time creating study guides with my clients
Sadly, most teens just don’t know what to do from there. As I’ve mentioned before, most teens don’t actually know who to study. So, sending them out of the classroom door with little to go on isn’t very helpful.
However, teens can help themselves by creating their own study guide. That’s right – you don’t need no stinking teacher. All right, maybe you do need the teacher, but not for this! And even better, creating a study guide is actually studying in its own right. Win-win!
How to Create Your Own Study Guide
In a perfect world, your teacher would provide a study guide for each quiz, test, and exam. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. And sometimes, your teacher won’t give you a study guide. It’s time to come to your own rescue! Use your own notes, reading assignments, and homework assignments to write your own study guide.
Go through the assigned reading and your notes. Which topics did your teacher spend the most time on? Which ideas or concepts come up over and over again? These are the ones you definitely want to include in your study guide.
Handwrite your study guide.
Yes, typing is faster, but handwriting is a more powerful process for your brain. When you handwrite, you have to sort through information and decide what is the most important to write down. That process helps you to better understand and learn the information.
Paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase!
Don’t blindly write down the definition from the textbook. Be sure to put it in your owns words. Being able to paraphrase shows that you understand the term. Also, you are more likely to remember your own language and phrasing, as opposed to the book’s wording.
Flashcard it up
Flashcards are the ideal study tool for vocabulary and basic concepts. Create some flashcards on index cards or Quizlet and start reviewing right away!
Head over to my post for the best ways to create and use flashcards!
Go beyond simple recall.
While you will need to know basic facts and definitions, your teacher will most likely ask higher order thinking questions. Consider relationships among terms, concepts, people, events, etc. Words to consider: define, compare, contrast, describe, discuss, assess, evaluate
Write a summary sheet.
Use a single piece of paper and try to summarize all the main points from the unit on the sheet. This forces you to think about all the information introduced and reduce it to the most important ideas or concepts. Since it’s only one page, you have to be succinct as well.
Create concept maps or charts to visually show the relationships between topics. You could create a concept map, Venn diagram, compare/ contrast chart, process diagram, timeline, etc. This handout from Utah State University has great examples of the types of diagrams you can create!