Studying is a key part of your academic career and you might even find yourself studying facts and concepts during your professional career. The point is that whether you have a test coming up or you just want to have the facts straight before a lecture, you need to study and you need to study effectively.
One of the best options for this is to create flashcards. However, you will want to make and use your flashcards in the best way possible to get the results you need.
1. Personalize Your Flashcards
When you are making your own flashcard, make sure to do just that: make your own! There are plenty of options out there that make questions for you based on the course you’re taking or the textbook you’re using. However, you will benefit more from questions you make up yourself.
For one, you are working with a personalized set. That means you can use your flashcards to really focus on your strengths and weaknesses in a class. Plus, a set that is made to fit a textbook might not have the same focuses in the material that your instructor does.
2. Use Images and Words
Another tip for making flashcards is to not focus on using definitions and worded questions alone. Instead, use a mixture of words and images. This way, you are learning the information you need in more than one way, making you more likely to learn and memorize what you need to know for a quiz or a perfect college paper.
You can also use images as mnemonic devices. The pictures don’t necessarily have to be strictly related to the material at hand. Try using images that remind you of certain facts and create associations to help you learn. For instance, you might remember three connected ideas by making a triangle out of them.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Other Mnemonic Devices
Pictures are a great way to remember what you need to know but don’t feel limited, you can also incorporate other types of mnemonic devices into your flashcards.
A common option is to create a rhyme that helps you remember. A great example is one we all learned when we were rather young: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” This is great because it’s an easy rhyme to recall and it tells you who Columbus is and when he explored.
Another popular option is to use acronyms. For instance, the use of the mnemonic ROY G BIV to remember the colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Really, though, a mnemonic device is anything that will help you remember what you need to know. Once again, personalization is a great tool to help you remember.
4. One Question Per Card
The key rule to making flashcards is to keep it simple. Don’t use more than one term or question per card. Even when it comes to more complex concepts, try to keep your flashcards down to a single question per card.
This way, you are keeping your flashcards easy to understand. If you over-complicate your flashcards, you might confuse yourself more than learn the facts you need to know. Flashcards are meant to help you learn specific facts – they aren’t meant to contain full essays-worth of answers.
5. Work with Others
If you have someone in your life that will quiz you on the answers to your flashcards, you should take advantage of this opportunity. This way, you will have to recite answers out loud and you won’t be able to slip by with answers that are almost right. In addition, reciting answers out loud makes you more likely to remember them.
In other words, working with your flashcards with others helps you study more effectively. Even if you don’t have someone else to work with, you can study out loud to yourself for a similar effect.
Flashcards can be an absolutely effective way to study. For this to be an effective form of studying, though, you have to make and use your flashcards effectively as well. For instance, if you make your flashcards too complicated or make all the questions rather monotonous instead of engaging, you won’t have the same results as if you made flashcards you thought carefully about and executed accordingly.