If you are just embarking on your college career, then there is a good chance you have a lot on your mind. Maybe you are anxious about living away from home for the first time or making new friends. You also may worry about how you’ll perform in your college classes. Learning how to create an effective study guide tailored to your particular style of learning is a great way to alleviate some of those academic worries in the first weeks and ensure your college experience is a success.

Learning Types

Understanding the ways in which you learn and process information is a crucial step to succeeding in college and can help you determine what type of study guide is most effective. Some students are visual learners, a designation meaning they absorb new information most efficiently when it’s presented in a visual way. Other students are auditory learners, who perform best when hearing material aloud. Younger students often learn kinesthetically, or by performing an activity. Knowing how you learn can help you decide which type of study guide to create.

Here are the four most common kinds of study guides for different types of learners to take your studying to the next level:


1. Study Guide Type: Concept Map

Learning Type: Visual

Creating a concept map, or branching diagram, is a great way for visual learners to organize information. Useful for a wide variety of classes and curriculums, concept maps often feature a main idea in the center of the page with other ideas and topics branching out from it. You may use a concept map study guide to review different elements of a topic, like the many wives of Henry VIII or the factors that contributed to a declaration of war.


2. Study Guide Type: Diagram

Learning Type: Visual

Another popular study guide among visual learners is the diagram, which enables you to represent processes. Commonly used in science classes, diagrams are great for describing multi-step processes, like mitosis or the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Additionally, business students may use a diagram to help them learn procedures like the steps to establishing an LLC. Any time you need to lay out information in a particular order, you should consider using a diagram.


3. Study Guide Type: Timeline

Learning Type: Visual

Do you have trouble remembering when Washington crossed the Delaware? Are you always forgetting your mother’s birthday? If dates are a source of difficulty for you, then you may want to consider creating a timeline. This type of study guide is useful any time you need to remember information chronologically, a fact that makes it ideal for history courses. However, timelines can be valuable for a variety of courses including art history, political science and even music.


4. Study Guide Type: Audio or Video Recording

Learning Type: Auditory

Are you great at remembering lyrics to songs and lines from movies? If so, you might be an auditory learner. Try recording lectures and listening to them back when you’re studying. Some college professors even videotape their lectures and put them online. If you don’t have a recording device, you may want to try making up word association games to help you remember certain facts.

Finally, experts recommend that auditory learners try especially hard to participate in class discussions. Not only does speaking—and hearing facts spoken—aloud help you to remember, but you may also score some class participation points for sharing your ideas.

While students learn in different ways, all of the different learning types are valid. The important thing is to identify your particular style of learning and find a study guide that works for you. Using an effective study guide will help ensure that your college years are productive ones.

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