How to create and use flash cards

Flash cards are small, double-sided pieces of card or paper.  On one side you write a question or key term.  On the other side you write the answer or definition.

There is always a relationship between the information on both sides of the card, e.g. key term and definition, question and answer etc.

Because you can only see one side of the card at a time, you can use flash cards to test your knowledge, by instantly checking your guess.

Flash cards are an effective tool for revising keywords, vocabulary, and other subject specific information.

How to create your own set of flash cards

Buy a fresh set of blank flash cards or create your own by cutting up card or paper.

  • On one side of the card, write a key term or question
  • On the other side, write the definition for that key term, or an answer to the question

Stick to one idea or concept per flash card.

Don’t fill the card with a long complex answer either.  Keep them as simple as possible.

To achieve this, split bigger answers into smaller sets of questions if necessary, and don’t worry if this means using more cards.

How to use your flash cards properly

Flash cards are used to test your knowledge, a quick way to check what you know.

  • Read the question or key term from the front of the card
  • Try to remember the definition or answer without looking
  • Check your guess by looking at the back of the card

As you work through your flash cards, it is a good idea to separate them into different piles:

  • I know this
  • Not sure about this
  • I don’t know this at all

Use these piles to revise more effectively.  Prioritise the cards you can’t remember and revisit these the most often.

Do revisit every card at some point, even those you are confident about, in order to keep the information fresh.

Don’t spend hours wading through flash cards.

Instead, review them for only a small amount of time, but repeat this often within your revision timetable.

Spaced repetition is the key to using flash cards.

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