Essential Study Guides To Improve Research Skills and Attain Better Grades

by bizilady

All students want to achieve good grades in school as well as socialize. Even home schoolers can gain valuable help with online study guides and stay in contact through some sites.

Study guides have been around for years,starting with Cliffs Notes. Now others are all online to help students from middle school to college with tests preparation, study techniques, book reports, social media and much more.It is essential for young men and women to have access to information to get ahead.

Students of all ages want to Improve their grades

adult writers and researchers can benefit from online study guides

School age and college students all share something in common; they all want to improve their grades. Cliff's Notes has been around for many years; before the internet provided so much information to learners. Students have a wealth of information on the internet today so weeding through that is a chore in itself.


Home schooled students can also gain valuable insight and information from these online help sites. The new guides are more than reviews; some are interactive and provide question and answer sessions, practice in essay writing and grammar review.


The online study websites can now act as the teacher and provide lessons to home schooled as well as in school students. The homework sessions will be less of a nightmare for frazzled parents as well. Let's face it, if the student is frustrated and doesn't understand the material, then they may become turned off to learning and so more problems will arise.

Those who research and write online will also find some benefit to using these online study guides.

Book reviewers will find a wealth of information that will make their job easier.

students studying
students studying

Here is a brief review of some study guide websites.

Cliffs Notes Interactive study site


Cliff's Notes


This is the granddaddy of the modern study guides and spawned a huge industry for the education field.

Started in 1958 by Clifton Keith Hillgass, and began with 16 Shakespeare study guides. Now there are guides for almost every subject and on the internet website.


Learning aids such as Cliff's Notes has provided students with some insights into literary works that were a bit overwhelming for their understanding. The website carries over 300 titles of literature, writing help, foreign languages, math practice, science, test prep, college advice, and a study break. The best part of the website is that all this help is free!


Any one can visit a subject area and practice lessons in writing, grammar, learn French or Spanish, practice calculus, and take a study break with entertaining games. I wish this was around when I was a student.

Cliffs Notes


Cliffs Notes
The Odyssey (Cliffs Notes)

$5.99  $1.10


Interactive learning and study guides




The SparkNotes website motto is “when your books and teachers don't make sense,we do,” seems to be an edgier version of Cliff's notes. It provides help in most of the same subjects as Cliff's Notes and more. There are two interesting headings titled “No Fear Shakespeare” and

No Fear Literature.”


The Shakespeare classics are put side by side with modern language translations so students can easily understand and relate to what William was actually talking about.

The other “No Fear Literature” has a similar approach to other literary works such as The Adventures Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter and Beowulf. This could be very helpful for reluctant readers and makes the work more relevant, so anything that will keep a student's interest is a tremendous aid.


There is also a social component to this website called Sparklife. Students can connect through music,movie and book reviews, tests your student personality and an Advice column featuring a cartoon Auntie Sparks.

Monarch Notes

listed on many book review websites

Monarch Notes has been around for many years and reviews only children's and young adults literary works. Some of the book titles include classics such as Tom Sawyer, The Grapes of Wrath,and Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring.

Each guide contains the authors biography, their complete body of works, critical analysis and interpretation of the works. The notes also provides questions and answers, suggested readings and annotated biographies. This is a cut and dry material without the social aspects so be prepared for serious reading.

They do not have their own website but are included in many sites and on where a student can obtain the notes on CD's. Many teachers use these CD's to plan lessons so it would be a good choice for the tutors and home schoolers as well.


Book Notes

giant search resource

 Book Notes claims to be the largest and original literature guide on the internet. They track down literary notes, book summaries, study guides and notes from all the other guide sites and then some.

The main sites they obtain information from is Cliff's Notes, SparkNotes, Wikisummaries, BookRags, Pink Monkey, Barrons, Novel Guide, Book Wolf, ClassicNotes, and Scmoop. With 25,000 books and over 28,000 resources indexed, this is the most complete website guide I have seen. It is better than many library collections.

This is strictly about literature reviews, so don't look for math help or grammar assistance here. There is a search box on the top of the website page that a visitor can find information by author or title.

Summary of online study guides and their benfits

interactive and non interactive

Whether you are a middle school,high school,college student or online writer, these study guides will be a great benefit. Students can interact academically and socially on most of these site. This is a good option for those who are home schooled.

So there are the main players in the educational study guide field today. The longest running main literature review site is Monarch Notes, but information on their origins is scarce. The company does not give extra help in any other areas.


Cliff's Notes is the most popular study guide and has an online website that is interactive. Parents trust this company and they have a great reputation. Since their beginnings in literary reviews, they also provide study guides in almost every subject for young adults and early college subjects.


One of the newest and freshest sites for young people on the internet is SparkNotes. Its a cross between a social site and school. You can find every subject and a translations of the classics into today’s language in their "No Fear Shakespeare" and "No Fear Literature" department. I like this aspect very much since it will help keep students attention longer and help them to relate to the story.


Book Notes is a giant directory of other review and study sites. It provides the sources for all literary book reviews and summaries and looks impressive.

Adults and parent need to stay vigilant in young people's learning

Adults in young people's lives must be vigilant and not let the internet do their work. We need to develop students thinking skills and not just fulfill an assignment.

There are other lesser known but just as good study guides listed on the websites such as Pink Monkey,Clip Notes, Scmoops, and Gradesaver.

I'm in favor of students and homeschoolers having sites to help them achieve their academic goals. I don't want them to rely on these sites so there is a fine line between helping and harming.

Parents still need to monitor what their children are doing and where they obtain information. It's easy to copy information and write a report but a different story to understand the information and interpret it .


Links to online study sites

Pink Monkey
book review site

Book Notes
a free search directory of other book review sites and descriptions

Cliff's Notes
An interactive website for study guides and lessons in almost nay school subject

Sparks Notes
An interactive learning and social site for young adults and school age students

Grade Saver
a book summary site provides study guides for literary work

York Notes
an interactive site located in the United Kingdom focusing on most subjects with study assistance

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Updated: 12/27/2015, bizilady
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bizilady on 07/19/2012

I never used these in high school or college. I couldn't afford the price and the library was always out.
Student do need to think for themselves;too many want everything handed to them. OK,enough venting.Thanks for sharing.

sheilamarie on 07/19/2012

Handy source for study guides, bizilady. I agree with your caution, though. that students may be tempted to copy what they read and use that in a report. As a teacher I've caught some students doing just that. Kids need to beware that even teachers read online sites and so students won't always get away with taking someone else's writing and using it as their own (called plagarism). Though using these notes may help a student understand a piece of literature better, it's helpful to try to think hard about the piece and figure out what it means for you, too. Study guides are good tools, but they're only that -- tools. The real thinking through of the ideas still needs to be done.
Thanks for providing us with links to these sites. I'm sure they'll be helpful to many people.

bizilady on 04/09/2012

hello DavidpaulWagner: No I haven't heard of coles notes before. Most of my experience has been with American companies. Thanks for reading and the info.

DavidPaulWagner on 04/08/2012

Interesting article! Have you also come across the Coles Notes series, which was published in Canada from 1948?

bizilady on 02/05/2012

BrendaReeves: Cliff notes helped a lot of us and now its easier to get help since they are online

BrendaReeves on 02/04/2012

My B.A. degree is in English. I don't know what I would have done without my Cliff notes.

bizilady on 10/24/2011

Anna; I'm glad you enjoyed the Cliffs notes article. I learned a lot from my research as well.

Sabeen on 10/24/2011

Very informative page about Cliff's Notes and other Online Study Guides. I really enjoyed reading it

bizilady on 08/07/2011

RebeccaE: that's a good point.Adults in the writing field can also use these guides.Thanks for reading!

RebeccaE on 08/07/2011

Cliff's notes even help me and I am not in school so great work.

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