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How to Make Effective Flash Cards

Flash cards are a great study aid whether you're trying to memorize formulas and equations, improve your spelling, learn a foreign language, or commit anything else to memory.


  • Step 1: Write consistently and clearly Write with consistent, clear handwriting on blank cards made out of sturdy paper.
  • TIP: Test your pen or marker on a spare card to make sure the ink is clearly visible but doesn't bleed through the paper.
  • Step 2: Create categories Create categories for your flash cards, such as verbs and nouns, and write a number for the category in the corner of each card. Labeling the cards by category will help you reorganize your flash cards into sets if they get mixed up.
  • Step 3: Stick to one question, one answer Stick to one question, key term, or equation on the front of each card and place its corresponding answer on the back. Don't try to cram more information on one card than you can reasonably recall later.
  • TIP: The process of making flash cards helps commit the information to memory, so encourage students to make them on their own.
  • Step 4: Don't be wordy Make the wording on each card as succinct as possible -- for instance, write "Capital of Brazil?" instead of "What is the capital of Brazil?"
  • TIP: Use a highlighter or pen to underline the key words in longer answers.
  • Step 5: Add pictures Paste a picture that is representative of vocabulary words on the cards. This provides a visual clue for your brain to associate with the correct answer.
  • Step 6: Study Practice studying with your flash cards by reading the front of each card and trying to remember the answer on the back. As you go, set aside the cards you already know well so you can concentrate on your weaker areas the next time. Your brain will thank you for it.
  • FACT: Research shows that memories are at least partly processed and sent to the brain's storage and retrieval system during deep sleep.

You Will Need

  • Blank cards
  • Pen or marker
  • Categories
  • Questions and answers
  • Pictures
  • Highlighter (optional)

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