3 ways to study with flashcards

3 ways to study with flashcards
3 ways to study with flashcards

Reviewing with flashcards is one of the best known ways to absorb new information. However, it's not just a matter of writing a few words on a piece of card stock. In order for your cards to be truly effective for you, it is important that you start by thinking carefully about the information you will put in them. You could also find out about apps for creating and sharing memory cards. By developing good working habits with your cards, you will assimilate your lessons more easily!


Method 1 of 3: Create individual cards

Study Using Index Cards Step 1

Step 1. Keep it short

Instead of writing whole sentences, just write short formulas. Where possible, use abbreviations. You will need to be able to read your cards quickly and by condensing the text, you will know that the most important ideas are in front of you. The step of choosing the text is an integral part of the learning process.

For example, if you are studying geo-history, you could write "US" instead of "United States". You could write the formula "CC, America, 1492" to say that Christopher Columbus arrived in America in 1492

Study Using Index Cards Step 2

Step 2. Write in pencil

By working in pencil, you will be able to modify your notes as you go through your revisions. Also, the pencil will not pierce the paper of your index cards and you will not be able to see what you have written on the other side. If you still choose to use a pen, make sure that the ink does not pass through the media.

Study Using Index Cards Step 3

Step 3. Note the date or source of the information

At the top of each card, note the date on which this information was presented to you in progress or the page number of the source, as well as the name of the source in abbreviated form. You will be able to go back to the base of the information presented on your file. This will be very useful for citing your sources or if you decide to sort your files.

If you are making index cards for several lessons, use cards of different colors or keep them in small piles held by rubber bands

Study Using Index Cards Step 4

Step 4. Make picture cards

You don't have to put only text on your index cards. For visual learners, drawing a small picture on the map might be more effective. Stick to a fairly simple image and make it easy to recognize. If it helps you revise, add a caption to the image.

  • For example, for a biology class, you could make a small diagram of a cell and indicate the names of the different parts. You can then put the "key" on the back of the form. By turning the card over and over again, you can learn your lesson.
  • A student revising a language course could draw an object, such as a flower, on one side of the card and write the translation on the other side.
  • You could also make picture cards by photocopying a picture from a book or lesson material, then cutting it to the size of a memory card. Doing this several times will give you a slideshow that will accompany your notes.
Study Using Index Cards Step 5

Step 5. Add color

To combat boredom and fully boost your memory, try color coding your index cards. You could write with colored pencils, highlighters, and even fine markers. Underline particularly important information with color. Or, assign specific colors to certain themes or topics, so your cards are easier to sort.

Before you start using colors on your cards, establish a code. Otherwise, your cards will be overloaded and difficult to understand

Study Using Index Cards Step 6

Step 6. Use puns

If you have found an easy way to memorize a piece of information, write it down on an index card. All forms of mnemonics are welcome to review. Do not look for formulas that are too complex and enter only one major information per file.

To revise a history lesson, you could write "who crossed the blue ocean?" "On one side of a card and the answer" Christopher Columbus crossed the blue ocean in 1-4-9-2 ". Rhymes help to memorize information

Study Using Index Cards Step 7

Step 7. Laminate your index cards

Go to a copy shop and ask to have your cards laminated. Or, use a portable laminator yourself. You could also get small plastic sleeves from an office store and use them to cover your index cards. The main thing will be to protect your plugs from water, especially if you plan to use them for a long time and take them everywhere with you.

Study Using Index Cards Step 8

Step 8. Use a sheet of paper

If the cards are not a format you like, you can use the same approach on a blank sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center of the page. On the left, you will enter a list of questions. You will write the answers on the right side of the sheet. To revise, you will simply cover half of the sheet.

With this method, you will not be able to mix up the questions. Make sure you don't always take the questions and answers in order

Study Using Index Cards Step 9

Step 9. Test the memory card maker applications

There are various apps to download that can help you create and use flashcards for reviewing. You can usually get a basic version for free and add paid features to it. Brainscape, iStudious and StudyBlue are some good examples. Before downloading any of these apps, read the reviews online to get an idea.

  • Brainscape personalizes your revisions by presenting you the cards based on your performance in previous quizzes.
  • StudyBlue is an interesting application, which will allow you to exchange your files on certain subjects with other students from all over the world. This will be a good way to study if you like to see a concept explained in different ways.

Method 2 of 3: Use memory cards with different review methods

Study Using Index Cards Step 10

Step 1. Choose a card format

You will need to choose how you study early in the process. This will largely depend on the topic being studied, as well as your personal preferences. Once you've decided on a format, stick to it and change it only once at most.

For example, if you are reviewing historical facts, you could create quizzes or definition cards. If you are studying a foreign language, your cards will likely focus on vocabulary practice or sentence construction

Study Using Index Cards Step 11

Step 2. Take notes on a given topic

This is the most common way to use index cards. You grade a topic on one side of a card and write your grades on the topic on the other. This type of sheet is sometimes called a summary sheet or a concept sheet.

  • If you notice that you have written a lot of information on a card, it might be worth dividing this topic into several sections.
  • This system is also often used to quickly memorize specific terms. You write the term on one side of the card and the definition or other translations on the other side.
Study Using Index Cards Step 12

Step 3. Use your cards to organize a written assignment

Your cards can also help you write an assignment. When you create your cards, write your notes or key points in the order you want them to appear in your essay. Change the order of the cards until you find the most suitable order. This will be much easier than rewriting entire parts of your assignment. When you're ready to move on to the writing stage, simply switch between cards, adding any information or transitions necessary to make the connection.

  • To make things clear, once you've established the order of the cards, write a small note at the top of each to indicate where its contents will be placed. For example, for introductory cards, write intro, up in a corner.
  • Also prepare cards listing the sources of the information used. Note one source per card. Note the title, author, publisher, date of publication of the work. You will use this information to create your bibliography and references.
Study Using Index Cards Step 13

Step 4. Take notes on specific sources

Whether you are preparing an essay or revising for a multi-source exam, you will be able to make index cards that will help you keep track of the materials you are using. Note the title and author's name on one side of the card and a few things about the argument, reasoning, methodology, etc., on the other side.

  • Depending on your goal, you might also include some critical points. For example, "unreliable source".
  • As you take notes on your sources, be sure to use quotation marks when using portions of the text directly from the book. Otherwise, you could accidentally be guilty of plagiarism if you use this info later in your homework.
Study Using Index Cards Step 14

Step 5. Create practice exams

Put yourself in the shoes of your teacher and ask yourself: what questions would I ask during an exam? What topics should be covered? And which topics are less important? Make a list of the best questions that come to mind and write them down on your index cards. Put one question per card and write short answers on the back of each.

  • Using your maps, create realistic control. Randomly draw the same number of cards as the number of questions you will be asked in the exam. Give yourself the same time as you will be given during the actual test. It will also be helpful to put your answers in writing, if that is what you will need to do during the exam. When you are finished, turn the cards over and check your answers.
  • You could also go see your teacher after you have done your index cards and ask him to take a look. Not all teachers will be ready to do this, but it could be of great help to you.
Study Using Index Cards Step 15

Step 6. Study while playing

To make your revisions more exciting, try adding a bit of competition. There are apps that will let you take quizzes against your classmates or other students. It will be a bit like participating in a virtual study group. You can even configure the contest so that participants must respect a given time. Quizlet is one such application, for example.

Method 3 of 3: Maximize your learning potential

Study Using Index Cards Step 16

Step 1. Keep the review sessions brief

Try to only study 20 to 30 minutes in a row. Give yourself at least 10 minutes break between sessions. Revising too long without taking a break can lead to confusion. To retain information well, study at short intervals.

At the start of each session, remember to start a stopwatch. So you won't forget to take your breaks

Study Using Index Cards Step 17

Step 2. Establish and stick to a review schedule

Putting everything off until later and then cramming at the last minute, you probably won't get the best results. Prefer to spread your revisions over several days or even several weeks, if possible. Take a look at your exam schedule or your homework deadlines and plan accordingly. Revising a few minutes a day will always be better than not revising at all.

Study Using Index Cards Step 18

Step 3. Take your index cards everywhere with you

In the days leading up to an exam, keep your charts handy and have a look at them as soon as you can. Take advantage of every minute of free time to study. If you watch TV, study during commercials. Being confronted with information and repeating it over and over will help you retain it better.

Get creative and hang your index cards in your bedroom. You will be able to revise while tidying up your things. Or, punch the corner of a series of cards and thread them onto a key ring so you can easily take them out

Study Using Index Cards Step 19

Step 4. Shuffle your cards

If you pick up your cards in the same order over and over again, your mind will start to get bored. Change the order of your cards, throw them on a table and shuffle them or put them in a pot and draw them one by one. You will not need to know what question you will be asked, as you will during the exam.

Study Using Index Cards Step 20

Step 5. Set aside any cards you know

Once you feel comfortable with the information for a certain card, put it aside. This will allow you to devote more time to topics and terms that you are not yet familiar with. However, do not completely forget the cards set aside and take them back as well, but less often.

Study Using Index Cards Step 21

Step 6. Work in a group

Find some classmates and go back to your cards together. You may find that other students have covered topics that you missed and vice versa. Try to teach each other the information, to see how well you understand it. Using your cards, take quizzes.


  • If the information you put on your cards seems complicated at first, don't be discouraged. Keep revising and you'll master them soon!
  • Choose a quiet and pleasant place to study. Be careful not to surround yourself with distractions.
  • You could also read your cards aloud to review.
  • Try to use mnemonic devices and other tips to review with your index cards, in order to memorize the information more easily.


  • Please understand that just creating the cards will not count entirely as your revisions. You will also need to take the time to review the information.
  • Do not study until you can no longer be able to. Take care of your health.

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