How I Make and Use My Study Guides

In my previous post How to Create a Study Guide that Actually Helps, I have talked about some skills on building a study guide – a booklet that contains everything you need for your examination.

While I was moving out of my dorm, I found my study guides for last semester. I realized that it might be a good idea to show how I made my study guides and how I used them. The photos below featured my study guides for two courses – political philosophy and constitutional law.


What is on my cover page?

My cover page of most of my study guides usually contains a table of content, with the topics and required readings/corresponding chapters. If there are further information included in the syllabus, like the key question of that topic, I would also note those down.

I sometimes use this page to track my studying progress. I would highlight the topics I am not familiar with, as well as cross out topics and readings I have gone through.

Tables are great for organizing such information. In the photo here, I have the topic number in the first column, the name of the topic in the second, key questions and content in the third, and finally required readings in the forth.


How did I organize my study guide?


I place these flags on the first page of every topic so I can easily flip to that particular page. I use a little bit of colour-coding here, with red indicating lecture notes and orange indicating tutorial notes.


What is in my study guide?

It, of course, varies with different courses. But for mine, I usually have lecture notes, tutorial notes, and reading notes in it. They are organized by topic.

I fill the headings with gray color so the notes are separated very neatly. If necessary, I would also include screenshots of lecture slides (especially for those with diagrams or flowcharts).

I also include tutorial notes in my study guide because the questions are usually very similar to that of exams and the notes can offer some guidance for me to answer the questions.

How did I study with it?

After printing out the entire booklet, I would start reviewing it. I would annotate it as I go through the notes and try to memorize the information. When I jot notes on it, I use red for important information, blue for any clarification and extra knowledge. I also highlight keywords in green, headings in orange, and important information in yellow.

I personally love using tables to organize information because it makes things much easier to read. It’s great for comparison and categorizing things (or adding examples to each category).
That’s the end of my very short overview of my study guides. This is the way I do for basically all my courses, and I start making them right from the start of the semester. After each lecture, I would add my organized lecture notes in that document. I would then print out the entire document one to two weeks before finals and start studying from it.

How do you make your study guides? Tell me in the comment section below! If you like this post, make sure to share it on social media by clicking the buttons down below.


  • Sam
    How did you make it though? Did you have to hand write it all or did your teacher give that to you?
    • Hello, Sam. I use my laptop (OneNote) to take lecture notes, and then copy and paste all the notes to a word document. Sometimes I organize them by lectures, sometimes by topics.
  • Jacopo
    Hi Sabrina! Do you have an example of a study guide created for a more mathematical focused courses? In that case, how do you work with formulas, demonstrations etc.?
    • I don't think I have kept any of my math study guides, but when I study math-related courses I usually use index cards rather than notebooks for notes. I would summarise a particular topic's formulas and the demonstrations on the cards. Hope this helps!

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