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How to Make Effective Flashcards

Posted: August 2, 2022
student taking notes

In college, you’ll find that studying is a huge help when it comes to tests and assignments. Each student likes to study in their own way. Flashcards seem to be one of the main ways students study, but it can be hard to use them if you don’t know how to set them up. There are multiple ways to set up flashcards, but here are a few ideas on how to help you make effective and efficient flashcards.

Pick Your Card Strategy

When it comes to making flashcards, there are tons of ways to do it. You can set the cards up as Q&A’s, phrase and definition, as well as diagrams for the explanation. Q&A cards work best when the professor has given you a study guide, so you can get used to seeing how the question might be phrased and pair it with the answer. Phrase and definition are great for vocabulary words. Do this by putting the word on one side and a definition for it that is easy for you to remember. Try to also put an example sentence if it is a harder word to memorize.

If physical cards aren’t for you, then there are websites that you can create flashcards on and use their curriculum to help with the learning process. One example of this would be Quizlet. Quizlet allows students to create their own study sets and learn with mini quizzes, matching games, and more. You can share your sets with other students as well.

Many of these flashcard strategies can be great for studying with friends!

Keep It Short and Sweet

Flashcards are meant to be used as a brief way to focus. Try to keep it to one topic/term per card, as it will make it easier to separate the information. It also allows you to write bigger and elaborate a little more on each notecard.

Also, try to keep each card short. Write in your own shortened definitions/explanations if the ones given to you are too lengthy. Try to create rhymes or acronyms for easier memorization.

add color to flashcards

Add Some Color

Color coding your class work and notes is actually known to help students better study and memorize material. Try keeping each class or subject in their own color, whether it is the color of the flashcards themselves, the color you write in, or the highlighter you use. By keeping the same color for everything in that class the same, you are more likely to remember the material on a test (bonus points if you can also write in that color on the homework/test).

Split Bigger Topics into Multiple Cards

For classes such as science and math, certain topics can be quite heavy. Instead of trying to put it all on one small notecard, split it up where you can. For example, if you’re in chemistry and need to memorize the periodic table, use one card, say, per element group or period.

student writing on pink notepad

Don’t be Afraid to Customize

Draw those diagrams! Use colors and label your drawings! Whatever you normally do to take notes, use those same strategies on your flashcards. Repetition helps with memorization, so it makes sense for the cards to match the notes. This is your study guide, so make it however makes sense to you and will help you learn your criteria.

Keep these tips in mind when getting ready to study for those big tests.

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