Flashcards are brilliant. They are so powerful in the way we learn and retain information. Believe it or not, flashcards are used throughout our education.
Think back to when you first learned to read, or learned another language, where you were looking at small cards with a basic picture, maybe of a dog, with the word written underneath.
This was your first foray into the world of flashcards! Fortunately, their use extends far beyond giving you the ability to identity household pets and farmyard animals.
If you use flashcards correctly, they can dramatically help you in improving your results in your GCSEs, and help break up the monotony of revision. But we are getting ahead of ourselves!
Before we see how flashcards work and how we can make the most of them to get the results we deserve, let’s find out what flashcards actually are!
What are flashcards?
As we alluded to, in our introduction flashcards are small note cards onto which you can write small pieces of information to help you study. Usually, you would use both sides of the card – perhaps with a question on one side and then a more complete answer on the other side.
You would normally group together cards, perhaps colour coded, so that you can see which subjects the cards are based on. This is a great way to keep organised when you are revising. Don’t forget to stick to a well thought out revision plan!
The idea is that you create a relationship in your head between the question and the answer, therefore when sitting an exam you are making it easier to recall ideas when you need to.
Why are flashcards so helpful when revising?
There are so many benefits to using flashcards as part of your revision. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
- Even the simple act of making them helps: In order to use flashcards, you have to make flashcards. This involves going through your notes and identifying the areas you would like to focus on. Find a way to express them on the card, then write down the relevant information, and there you go. You are already learning!
- The cards themselves help to form a memory: Our memories work in mysterious ways, but having something physical to associate knowledge with helps our minds when we come to recall them.We will be able to picture handwriting, the colour of the ink and perhaps even a mark or drawing on the card – all of this helps us to remember what was written on it.
- Repetition, repetition, repetition: Condensing something you need to know into a manageable chunk means you can look over it again and again. This repetition will soon tell you which bits you know, and which bits you need to work on more. It can help you organise your other forms of revision.
- Revise on the go: The cards are small and easily fit into a bag (or a back pocket!), so if you have any spare time you can whip them out and crack on with some revision.
How to make flashcards
Different techniques will work for different people and different subjects, but there are also basic principles that you should always try and follow:
- Use good quality cards – Ideally in a range of colours, but you can always mark them with different colours if they are all the same. Remember that these may be travelling with you for a while, so the sturdier the better.
- Select your keywords and question carefully – There is no point testing yourself on things you already know, so think about what you want to improve, or which information you are struggling to make stick in your head.
- Keep the information short – Don’t copy large chunks of text, it just has to be enough to trigger your memory.
- Write clearly – Make sure you can tell what it says with a quick glance as you don’t want to waste time struggling to read it.
- Include Pictures – Our brains are so much better when they have images to associate information with, rather than just text. Add in little pictures, doodles, graphs or mind maps to help trigger your brain.
Once you are up and running with your flashcards, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your effectiveness:
Use Flashcards To Test Your Classmates
You have a ready made quiz here, and learning using this method with friends is a great way to keep it fun, rather than just being sat silently reading and making notes.
Fire off a few questions to them, even if you end up just being the quizmaster, you will pick things up as you see how others answer questions.
When you have tested yourself with all of your cards a couple of times, start putting them into different categories, depending on how well you know the information – for example, Easy, Medium and Difficult.
When you next have a spare moment to go through the cards, focus on the difficult ones. Don’t ignore the other categories, but just make sure you are focusing on the ‘Difficult’ cards more often.
Combine Flashcards With Other Revision
While flashcards are brilliant, they are designed to complement other forms of revision rather than replace them. You will find that you are picking up a lot of snippets of knowledge, but you will need to combine that with other forms, such as past paper questions! This is extremely important when sitting your exam as you understand the style of your exam before hand.
Other ways you can revise to maximise your exam outcomes, are through platforms like SchoolOnline, that turn students knowledge into exam success in both English and Maths.
With access to past papers, on demand bite size tutorial videos guided by expert UK examiners you can rest assured that you will not only boost your outcomes but also significantly increase confidence in those subjects. Why not trial SchoolOnline through a FREE demo?
So what are you waiting for? You can start making flashcards the moment that you learn something new, so start today and reap the rewards!