How to Create a Study Guide that Works for You

Processed with VSCO with se3 presetBy Deena Farrukh

With finals a month away from us college students, high school students & middle school students alike, I thought it would be appropriate to write about what we all seem to struggle with the most: stuDYING. Personally, if you want to become successful in school, you have to have a study plan. It doesn’t have to be just for exams either. If I have to host a meeting, I organize my thoughts about the meeting & how the meeting will go. If I’m going on a trip, I create a list of what I need to pack (the wants come later, hehe). I even organize my day if I have plans later in the evening with my friends. No matter what the task, I know I’ve performed my hardest work if I had a steady plan ahead.

Today, I’m going to [try to] answer all the questions that have swarmed your brains and caused you to panic randomly at 3AM.

When should I start studying? 

From the start of the semester. I know this might sound foreign to most of you. It’s okay, it did to me too. I used to be that person that waited until a few weeks before my finals to start studying all the material from the start of the semester to the finish. But the work of taking one or two hours of your week to organize your professor/teacher’s lecture notes into a Word document doesn’t even compare to the amount of time it will take you a few weeks from your exam date. TRUST ME. Been there, done that.

How do I create my own study guide?

Creating a study guide is a little bit different from simply writing your own notes from class. Study guides focus on what will show up on your exam, more than organizing and summarizing what your professor/teacher told you in class. Here are some things you should emphasize on when creating your study guide:

1. Type out all the topics from your syllabus/any topics your professor/teacher has claimed will be on the exam onto a Word document.

2. It’s important to have everything that will be on your exam in your study guide, but try eliminating any topics that will be useless or are irrelevant to you.

What sources do I use to start creating my study guide(s)?

Sources will be different for college students versus high school/middle school students, so I thought it would be easier to divide them up and explain the sources individually.

College Students: 

As a college student, lecture notes/videos would be the first thing to look at when creating a study guide. For example, my professors would not only upload the lecture slides for us to follow along, but their lectures would be recorded and uploaded to us as an extra study tool.

Lecture notes are a good foundation for your study guide, but for the more in-depth material, skim your books. This is a great way to balance what you are studying, and it’s an extra tool to look at the material from a different point of view.

Last but not least, look at old exams (if you have them). This is an excellent addition to your study guide because it will remind you how your professor structures his questions. Now, I know some professors don’t allow their exams to be taken out of the exam room. No problem. Go into your professor’s office hours and ask him/her how to create an attack plan or what they believe is a structure for a good answer on their exams.

High School & Middle School Students: 

If you are in middle school or high school, I believe textbooks and your teachers are the best way to tackle making a study guide. Unlike college, your teachers are much more available to you since you see them every day, so use them as a study tool. And more often than not, everything that’s in your syllabus for the year you can find in your textbook.

For the most part, I know that in high school & middle school your past exams are given back to you, so again, look over those. Familiarize yourself with your teacher’s exam format and question method.

How exactly do I organize my study guide?

Now onto the nitty gritty stuff. I would start my study guide off with making an overview of what each chapter entails. This is sort of like a “table of contents” page: it shows you what topics you specifically have to study & a brief synopsis of what each chapter is about. I personally would create this in an outline format, but whatever works for you, go for it!

Let’s get into how to organize all the facts and concepts into your study guide. The beauty of making your own study guide, and not using your teacher’s or anyone else’s is that it’s yours. There’s not just one type of note-taking technique. Here are a several that work for me:

  • Flowcharts
  • Diagrams
  • Symbols
  • Charts
  • Color-coding [which helps me the most!!!]

Like I said before, this study guide is not about taking notes but actually retaining the information that you are studying. An excellent technique to understand and memorize the material is I rewrite my notes in my own words.

Aside from that, I also watch YouTube videos and Google concepts & ideas to better comprehend the material if my professor’s explanation isn’t clicking for me. This is a really good study technique because you yourself ventured out to figure out what you weren’t understanding.

To sum up your notes for your study guide, skim your textbook’s chapter summaries. Although it won’t have every fact you’ll need, it comes in handy to sort out the important information of that chapter.

My note-taking technique for my study guides is as follows:

  • Red star: the concepts that I need to stress most on
  • Box: to categorize sub-topics in a chapter
  • Green highlight: keywords & definitions
  • Yellow highlight: main ideas
  • Pink highlight: pronouns that I need to remember
  • Purple highlight: examples to help comprehend the material better

At the end of each chapter, I like to add a few sample exam questions that coincide with that chapter as a mini quiz. Studying can sometimes immerse you in all the facts and concepts that you can sometimes forget why you are really going over it all: to test yourself.

I really hope this helped you out because I know that these techniques my entire outlook on studying for exams. Good luck & happy studying!

Thanks for reading,


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Re-published from original blog post here: 


Diary of a Muslim Gym Junkie

By Raeesa Ashique, Blog Contributor 

My gym life has always had many ups and downs. Exams in April interfered with my regular routine, May was more off than on, and then Ramadan came. Fasting with a full-time job meant my free time was spent sleeping or catching up on Quran reading, and I justified continuing to skip the gym. But alhamdulillah I mustered up the discipline to get back into shape the last two months of summer.

I won’t mention all the physical and mental benefits of working out, since they are pretty obvious and can be found on any fitness site. Instead, I will offer some perspective and some advice. I’m no fitness guru, but I hope to encourage some of you to hit the gym.

Decide what you want to focus on – this can be mainly cardio, weight-training, or resistance exercises. I primarily do cardio, alternating between the treadmill, elliptical, and rowing machine, followed by core circuit training. Come up with some routines in advance, so indecision does not become an excuse to skip a workout.

My second piece of advice: be realistic. Having unreasonably high expectations will make achieving them difficult, and attempting to reach them intimidating. For example, say I decide to run five miles every day. I’ll probably quit after a week, since I would rather quit than fail. Make sure that you can realistically stick to your plan, and slowly increase your expectations as time passes.

Thirdly, make your intention! Allah has given us our bodies as an amaanah, or a trust, and we are supposed to take care of them. This means staying healthy, keeping in shape, and not exposing them to unhealthy or toxic substances. I think we’ve all heard the famous hadith “Actions are judged by their intentions”.  It is a beautiful thought, knowing that a simple intention can turn a workout into worship.

For my hijabi girls: I feel you. Actually, this is for any of you modest women. I won’t pretend it’s easy to cover – it’s hot under all those layers, but there is some consolation.

I always feel like covering at the gym is da’wah. Remember: you are making an impression on the people who see you, and you are racking up reward for this act of worship as well! Allah rewards us for our struggles, so make the double intention of staying healthy and being modest for His sake.

You also want to wear the right clothes. I can’t tell you what the right clothes are, since it depends on your own comfort level. Personally, I wear workout leggings (the ones from Pink are my favorite) with oversized men’s workout tops (which I “borrow” from my dad!) since they are super light material and fall to mid-thigh. I try to avoid cotton since it’s much less breathable, with my scarf being the only exception. I wear two-piece cotton scarves rather than maxi scarves, since it reduces the amount of material surrounding my face and sticking to my neck. I definitely prefer the voluminous scarf look for day-to-day wear, but this doesn’t matter at the gym: I’m there to get in shape, not to take selfies.

Finally, I would like to touch on body image (although I will save the extensive discussion for a future post). I know this will sound cliché, but I wouldn’t be saying this if I did not completely believe it. Don’t get obsessed with your weight. Focus on how you feel. If you feel stronger, if you feel satisfied with your progress, if your routine is encouraging healthier eating, if you generally feel good: your routine is working.

Weight is just a number, and does not necessarily correlate to progress. For example, my body type is such that my weight doesn’t fluctuate. I can do crazy amounts of cardio for two months, and my weight will stay the same. Instead, try to measure progress in terms of how long you can run for, how many squats you can do, or how your cardio has improved.

This may take a while to accept, but it is very true: if you don’t feel good, then no amount of weight loss or dieting will make you happy. And ultimately, feeling good and pleasing Allah are the goals.   

Follow Raessa on Instagram at @raeesashique

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Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

I Took a Social Media Break

By Waffa Abu-Hajar, Blog Coordinator

It was my last year in high school and I finally had the space in my schedule to take the subjects I always loved the most: Photography and English.

Although high school until then was kind of boring, senior year for me was a time in which I began realizing my passions and who I was as a person. I would post the photos I took for assignments on Instagram, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter. I became very engaged on social media. I loved it.

The next fall came and I was ready to begin my first semester in community college. As a community college student, I was determined to complete all my units, and get good grades so within two years so I will be able to transfer to a university.

I spent a lot of time debating which photos I should post and constantly checking how many likes I got on a status became a habit. Towards the end of fall semester, it became clear to me that social media really takes up a lot of my time. I wanted to take a step back and practice “being present in the moment”, which lead me to take a social media break.

This break was about two weeks, and I have to admit, in the beginning it was really difficult. But by the end of it, I was being more conscious of the environment around me, noticing things I hadn’t before, and it made me a happier person. Sharing, liking, and posting weren’t as important for me anymore and I decided it was more important to be more present to enjoy the company of the people actually around me.

But being a community college student, many people may not know, this interaction can be less than frequent and hard to come by. Between attending class, studying at libraries and coffee shops, while juggling other responsibilities, having time for friends can be difficult.

Now, I’m not saying spending a great deal of time on social media is good for you, but when you post a status or a photo and your friends like or comment, it is gratifying, and can also be a comforting feeling. It’s hard for a lot of people to admit, but it is a place where people are able to connect. I love being able to keep up with my friends, follow creatives on Instagram, and stay in touch with people from all over the world.

While it is crucial that we, as a society, don’t get too caught up with constant feeds refreshing every few minutes, it’s also nice to have a touch of community at our fingertips.

Follow Waffa on Instagram and Twitter at @waffabuhajar

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One for the Brothers: Part II

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

You thought I was done with the brothers, didn’t you?

Please, they’re not getting off that easily.

In my last post, I was feeling extremely sentimental. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brothers. But our community is far from flawless. And unfortunately, misogyny runs rampant in Muslim communities around the world.

Correction: Misogyny runs rampant in ALL communities around the world. But I can only speak to what I know well.

Brothers, listen up. While I appreciate your every effort to be good role models and valuable contributions to society, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Brothers, here is where you can start:

  1. Be inclusive: If you’re putting together an event, bringing a speaker or planning a panel, your first thought should always be where are the sisters? It’s incredible the difference this simple thought can make. Obviously it’s important that inclusivity is practiced in our mosques and communities in every way possible. But with the majority of our speakers and scholars being male, not only are women missing out on valuable public speaking opportunities, female participants are often discouraged or uncomfortable asking questions or discussion their problems with said speaker. We’re obstructing young women in their attempts to grow, as young Muslimahs and as  young women.

This is so important; brothers, if you’re on a panel and you look left and right and see no women, say something. If an important speaker is coming to your community and you’re planning an intimate meet and greet, invite the sisters. If you’re planning a conference and all the speakers are men, rethink your line up. We have so much to offer and when given opportunities, we will only get better.

2. Stop policing what women wear: while this is hardly specific to the Muslim community, because of the hijab, our communities are particularly obsessed with policing what women wear. Let’s get one thing straight. There is no one way to wear the hijab. And whatever decision a woman makes is hers to make for herself. It’s completely absurd to make assumptions about a person’s spirituality or morality based on how they dress. True story: a friend of mine was once warned to stay away from me because I “wear pants.” And the person who warned her? A guy from our community who probably spoke two sentences to me before coming to the conclusion that me and my jeans would be a terrible influence on all other Muslim women on campus. If you don’t think this is even a little crazy, you need to seriously reconsider how you understand your religion.

The hijab is merely one of the signs of faith you can see. A woman doesn’t wear how much money she donates to charity around her head. You can’t see how many verses of the Quran she knows or how well she takes care of her parents. How a woman dresses is really none of your business, and making judgements on her spirituality based on how she dresses speaks more to your spirituality than hers. Let it go.

  1. We are not your manic pixie dream Muslimahs: I can’t stress this enough. This is for all my brothers still looking for that perfect woman. I don’t know how many times I’ve met a guy who seems to have an impossible checklist for the woman he wants to marry. Must be an incredible cook, wears the hijab, eyebrows on fleek but can also read and understand the Quran. Will get along with his parents, never had a boyfriend, fluent in arabic but doesn’t have an accent, and her outfit always matches with her glowing halo. Brothers, we are not here to save you. We are not looking to take on any projects. Unless you hold yourself to the same standards, I don’t want to hear it. So many times, I’ve seen guys be more interested in the idea of a girl rather than the girl herself. And when they’re faced with reality, the relationship falls apart. Brothers, see us for what we are. Sounds logical, but you’d be surprised how rarely that happens.
  1. Respect our differences; yes, my last post was about how hard it is to be a Muslim man these days, and I don’t want to take away from that. But it’s important that our Muslim brothers understand that our experiences differ and, especially when it comes to women wearing the hijab, there are some experiences they will never understand.

I was once approached by a stranger on campus and asked outright if I was oppressed. Now, this happens more frequently than I’d like, and I usually try to answer with grace and poise. Unfortunately, on this day, I was a little emotionally drained and was completely out of patience. In moments like this, it feels like every effort to speak for myself and be a positive example completely evaporate. You can write columns, go on TV, do volunteer work, get academic honours, it doesn’t matter. People will still see your covered head and assume you have no voice, no power. It crushes you. So when this total stranger asked me if I was oppressed, I’ll admit, I was a tad snarky. After which, I went home and ranted to my siblings, my older sister and my younger brother, about how frustrating the whole experience was. And my brother, being the rational and cool headed individual he is, said “Sumayya, I hope you were cool. It’s important to set a good example.”

And I started crying.

My poor brother was totally thrown. It’s not like he’d said anything hurtful or new to me. But the thing is, he completely misunderstood why I was sharing my story. I just needed to blow off steam, and instead of being supportive or just letting me rant, he tried to offer criticism.

Brothers, you will never know what it’s like to wear the hijab. You cannot possibly know what it’s like to be a Muslim woman. You will never know what it’s like to be singled out on busses or at the mall, and asked personal and prying questions about your choices and your faith. You don’t know what it’s like to consistently be told that you should be pitied, that you’re powerless and weak. So please, when we’re sharing our experiences with you, don’t criticize or offer advice. Just listen. Listen and let us rant.

Again, this is not to diminish the struggles our brothers do face. Like I’ve said and will continue to say, there is no one more hated in the world today than the Muslim man. And the next time you want to talk about it, I will be here to listen.

These points are the summation of several different conversations I had with my friends and sisters. While they were discussed in the context of our community, they can be applied anywhere. The most important piece of advice is this: talk to each other. Talk to the women in your community, your classmates and friends and ask them what they want.
Because believe me, we want so much.

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

S H O P  N O W


One for the Brothers

By Sumayya Tobah, Editor

I can’t help but think I’ve been a little unfair.

The purpose of the BossMuslimah blog is to empower young Muslim women by writing about things we have in common, and creating a space for dialogue, inclusion and ultimately, growth. In our opening post, we discussed how important it was to celebrate the women in our lives, and we continue to stand by this entirely.

I would just like to make a small addition. A post-script, if you will.

In an age where the media is working tirelessly to vilify and demonize our Muslim fathers and brothers, I wanted to pen a short letter of appreciation — a love letter.

My dear Muslim brothers, I feel for you.

I was taught very early in life what the difference is between a boy and a man.  I legitimately thought my father was a superhero until I was maybe ten or eleven. He is generous with his knowledge, a commanding moral force and never wavers from his responsibility. Whenever I would creep around my parent’s closets looking for Eid gifts, I would secretly sift around for a cape.

But I soon learned that these qualities, as admirable as they were, weren’t unique to my father. I see them in my grandfather, who always takes the time to answer our questions with kindness, no matter how basic. I see them in my brother, who puts so much emphasis on doing things as a family and taking the time to make my mother smile.

Growing up, these were the men in my life.

When I started my undergraduate degree, I noticed these qualities in many of the brothers on campus. They were a nation; the kind of loyalty I wish I saw in my sisters. And the best ones always looked out for us. When I was verbally assaulted by a stranger after the Paris attacks, one of my brothers walked me to campus police. And when I was broken over the verdict (or lack thereof) in the Mike Brown case, it was one of the brothers who made me laugh.

Not only do these men — not boys — have to deal with everyday stresses like grades and girls (ladies, we can be stressful), but they have to deal with the unprovoked political wrath that is today’s attitude towards the Muslim Man.

At the age of 18, these men — not boys — had to navigate the most tumultuous period of a person’s life under a white hot magnifying glass. With every headline, we saw swarms of journalists and cameramen on our campuses, asking questions no person at 18 would be ready to handle. Questions about radicalism, terror and hate. Questions with an angle, with a guilt-imposing tone. And these men, at the ages of 18, 19, 20, 21 continue to face these questions head on.

This is not unique to my little campus. Nor is it isolated to those over the age of eighteen. Today’s high school-aged Muslims, both male and female have to handle so much more than I did at their age. Another topic for another post, I suppose.

The Muslim woman’s plight is to be continuously underestimated and undermined by the general public because of her assumed oppression. The Muslim Man, however, has to overcome the trope of the violent, crazy-eyed barbarian. I don’t know which I find more hurtful.

I once spent the day with a non-Muslim colleague working on an assignment. This colleague was a little bit older but I could tell he was making an effort to try to understand my “young and crazy” ways. I took a second to send a Snap to a friend, as we young and crazy twenty-somethings are known to do, and my colleague ducked out of the way, going, “Don’t get me in your snapchats now. Your father will ask you who that dirty infidel is.”

My heart stopped. To think of my father ever referring to another human being as a “dirty infidel” more than just ridiculous; it was one of the most racist things ever said to my face.

This man had never met my father, but he saw a young, hijab-wearing woman in front of him and made an assumption.

For the record, I have never once heard my father say the word “infidel.” He doesn’t have Snapchat either.

Gentlemen, I see you. When you grow your beards out and pronounce your names correctly, I see you. When you defend the hijab alone in a classroom, I see you. When you take care of your mothers and your grandmothers, I see you. When you take the time to support the efforts of your sisters in Islam, I see you. And when you continue to live lives of kindness in the face of such venom and hate, I see you. And I thank you.

Follow Sumayya on Instagram and Twitter @thisissumayya

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

S H O P  N O W


Eid Special: Ahfif Pop Up Boutique

We wrapped up Ramadan as So Cal’s premier pop up shop, in collaboration with our fave local LA brands + designers (aka #BOSSMUSLIMAHS).

First and foremost – Ahfif’s biggest warehouse sale dropped: Racks on racks of $10 and up items and one-off pieces!


Featured brand: Modern Eid and their hand crafted collections of decor, favors and gifts. We sure celebrated Ramadan/Eid in style this year!


Some of Modern Eid‘s goodies at the Ahfif Pop Up Boutique: Eid greeting cards, halal gummies and candy, acrylic hanging banners, gold flash tattoos…


Featured brand: The Soft Launch for Khazaal Apparel, So-Cal’s newest contemporary modest clothing brand.

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Here’s a video re-cap of the Ahfif Boutique Grand Opening!


If you don’t want to miss out on our next online warehouse sale happening only ONCE – register your e-mail and get first dibs!

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

S H O P  N O W

Breakfast at Night with Ahfif

The Ahfif Crew shares some of our favorite parts of Ramadan – specifically everything post-Taraweh! Check out some of what we have for “breakfast at night” and share yours to get featured!

A few years ago, there was a photo project that started during Ramadan called “Break_fast @ Night”. People from all over the world would submit photos of their favorite parts of Ramadan, so we would like to continue the “breakfast at night” tradition! Here are some photos from our Ahfif Crew:

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“Maghrib, also know as during Ramadan, iftar.”-Ahfif Marketing & Communications

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“The best time to reflect is right before Maghrib prayer.”-Ahfif Marketing & Communications

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“In the MYG room at the Islamic Center of Southern California!”-Ahfif Marketing & Communications

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“The perfect cup of tea with mint leaves post taraweeh :)”-Ahfif Marketing & Communications


“Chocolate cravings can only be settled with coffee!”-BossMuslimahs Blog Contributor

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“Bless places that are open 24 hours.”-Ahfif Stylist Intern

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“Breakfast at 1 am is never healthy” – Ahfif Co-Founder & CEO

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“Waiting in line for San Diego’s most hyped up 24 hr donut spot”- Ahfif Co-Founder & CEO

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“It’s not about the final destination but about the journey”- Ahfif Co-Founder & CEO

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“Traditional breakfast diner for suhoor”-Ahfif Stylist Intern

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“Watching the sun rise with good company.”-Ahfif Marketing & Communications

Now its your turn! Take pictures of your favorite parts about Ramadan and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #breakfastatnight so it can be featured!

Follow us on Instagram @ahfif and @bossmuslimahs to see what we’ve been up to! 

S H O P  N O W

Want to Be an Ahfif Blog Contributor?

Ramadan Kareem from our Ahfif family to yours!

Do you want to join the Ahfif team for the summer? Now is your chance! Ahfif is offering positions to become Blog Contributors. A Blog Contributor is a part of a team of other contributors to produce content for

We will be accepting applications all month long until June 30th.

To apply:

  • We want to know who you are so send us a bio of yourself!
  • We would also like a writing sample. You do not need previous experience to apply for this position.
  • Send your application to our Blog Coordinator, Waffa Abu-Hajar at by June 30th!

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