Are flashcards an effective way to revise?

Flashcards, or revision cards, are a classic revision tool, but how can you make sure that they’re actually helping you revise? We’ve got some revision techniques that will help you use revision cards effectively.

Female student studying at desk

1. Use images and colours

Using visual aids will help you make mental associations and trigger your memory. Use different coloured flashcards, pens or highlighters to differentiate between different topics in your cards and associate a certain colour with a topic.

If images help you, write your notes on one side and the image on the other, so that when you see the image you remember the information.

2. Use flashcards to test yourself

Just reading the information on your cards won’t get you very far. Instead, try the blurting method with your cards. Cover or turn over your cards and write down the information you think is on there. Check your answer and keep writing out your notes over and over, until you can remember everything on your flashcard.

Alternatively, ask a friend or family member to test you. Working with someone else breaks up your revision periods and makes them a little more interesting. The more interesting and engaging something is, the more likely you are to remember it.

3. Use acronyms

On one side of your flashcard, try writing an acronym that spells out what is on the other side.
For example, if your acronym was NCCMCMNM, this would help you remember all the elements of an animal cell: Nucleus, Chromosomes, Cytoplasm, Mitochondria, Cell membrane, Nuclear membrane.

If this is a concept that works for you then you can make it as complex or simple as you like, even to memorise a whole paragraph.

4. Make your flashcards digital

You can get revision apps, such as Quizlet, on your phone to take your flashcards with you wherever you go. This means you can look through your flashcards on the bus, while you’re waiting for a friend or whenever you have your phone on you.

Quizlet also allows you to turn your flashcards into games and quizzes, so you can test yourself in lots of different ways.

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