Rock Valley College

Flashcards as an Aid to Memory

Much of studying involves the remembering of different kinds of information.

In courses where there are large amounts of factual information, the use of flashcards may be helpful. Kinds of material that might be considered appropriate for flashcards are vocabulary words, equations, definitions, dates, and names.

Advantages of flashcards over other review techniques is the size and convenience. They will probably be reviewed more often than material in a notebook or a textbook. Frequent review of cards is what makes them effective. Short reviews frequently repeated will generally be more effective than long sessions of cramming.

One objection about flashcards is that "they take too long to make." Students should keep in mind, however, That prepared blank cards can be inexpensively purchased and the writing down of the material on the cards is an aid to memory in itself. Students can learn, therefore, as they prepare the cards.

Suggestion for flashcard use:

1. Use both sides of the card. Write the word or information to be learned on one side and the definition or explanation on the other. This will allow you to test yourself each time the cards are reviewed.

2. Review cards often. Carrying them with you will facilitate frequent review.

3. Prepare the cards will in advance of the material is due to be tested or learned.

4. Study cards most that you don't know or are not sure of. Reviewing a card you know may be a temptation, but such reviewing is an inefficient use of time.

5. When learning cards for the first time break them up into small groups. Learn on group of cards, then move to another group. Review all the cards from time to time (weekly or biweekly).

6. Shuffle the cards frequently and flip through them rapidly. This avoids learning the cards in a certain order. Remember, it is not the cards that improves memory; it is rather how often they are reviewed!

Counseling and development Center, NIU, Study Skills Lab.