Our world functions in a complex yet highly predictable way. To be happy and live comfortably, most people need money; to have money, one has to find a prestigious job; to have such a job, it’s essential to complete your studies and acquire a wealth of relevant knowledge. There are always exceptions that could deviate from this standard system, but it doesn’t change the main notion: if you want to succeed, you have to learn a lot of new facts, and some of them may be too complicated, dry, or boring.
No one can be too old for studying, but the way in which we do it differs from individual to individual. People have wildly diverse methods of memorizing things, ranging from reading the same information from the textbook over and over again to hiring a tutor who would explain everything slowly or using video as well as audio lessons as potentially helpful tools. Still, there is one old and tested system that many students underestimate but which has the power to help you achieve impressive results at the astonishing speed. It’s flashcards, and their effectiveness is explained by their simplicity.
Making Your Flashcards: 8 Tips That Will Radically Transform Your Studies
The history of flashcards as a tactic for memorizing certain kinds of information dates back to the 19th century. It’s logical to suggest that if people have been using them for so long, doing it even now that they have all modern technology, then these cards actually possess significant value. The process of making them is extremely simple: just cut out small rectangular figures and add info to them. They normally have two sides, one with a question and one with a reply to it. If you are interested in creating a set of your own, look at eight suggestions below. They will help you make your flashcards truly efficient.
Include Both Images and Words
It’s a known fact that people remember things best when they see images. Show a written word “bench” to a person and a picture of a bench itself separately from one another. It’s guaranteed that when asked about what they recall first, this person will immediately visualize the image of a bench they’ve seen. This is how it works: images stay in our minds longer. So, instead of just writing a short reply, accompany it with a relevant picture. Your brain will automatically combine both, imprinting on the flashcard with increased intensity.
Make Flashcards Personal
The key to helping your brain remember something is to create a meaningful association. Don’t worry about your card being too weird or incomprehensible for other people because it’s made solely for you. For instance, if your answer to a question is “Washington” and the first thing that comes to your mind upon hearing it is a nightclub with the same name you and your friend have visited, then draw it. Others might be unable to figure anything out based on it, but the most important thing is, you’ll know its meaning. Make a silly drawing, a colorful or black-and-white picture; use a sticker or get an image from the Internet. Use whatever works for you!
Use Special Flashcard Software If Facing Troubles
Some people cannot figure out how to design their flashcards despite all the recommendations. Others don’t think their flashcards are effective despite incorporating every bit of advice they’ve received. If you’ve fallen into this group, use the software. Luckily, there are hundreds of flashcard programs that have been devised in generically helpful ways. There is also software that allows you to see the flashcards made by other students for the subjects you need. Take a look, maybe it’ll inspire you enough to use them or even assist you in making your own cards.
Be Concise When Developing Each Card
Don’t overload the flashcards with information. If some questions require a set of complex answers — for example, the reasons that caused WW2, don’t write them down on one card. Make several, with each reason being indicated separately. It will help you focus on each part of the answer extensively and make sure you actually remember every card. If you make a mistake and don’t remember the answer, you’ll see what area of your knowledge is the weakest instead of recalling some answers specified on one flashcard but forgetting others. Conciseness is a key, so use it smartly.
Try Using Reverse Order
Having cards with questions and answers is useful, but sometimes, our own memory plays cruel tricks with us. This way, you might memorize the answer in the exact form it’s written down on the flashcard, being able to recall it only if the question with the same wording you used when making your card is asked. If word order changes and the questions sound a little differently, your brain will short-circuit and you’ll be stuck, unable to give a correct and wholesome reply. To prevent it from happening, try making two sets of flashcards in reverse. Basically, if in the first set, the question is, “Who is going to rise when Albion’s need is the greatest?”, with the answer being “King Arthur”, switch them for the second set. Ask, “What is King Arthur supposed to do in the future?”, and reply, “He will rise when Albion’s need is the greatest.” This is one of the most efficient ways of remembering things and making them stay in your memory.
Add Several Questions for One Concept
Some concepts and topics are more difficult than others. If you have to study one of these, make it easier by dividing it into several questions, targeting the smaller aspects to form one wholesome, knowledge-based picture. To help you understand this approach better, let’s use a simple example from Modern Literature studies. Imagine that you have to remember all relevant characters from the Hunger Games without having read all the books. Instead of making just two cards with “Who’s the male/female protagonist of HG?”, diversify them and add several more. For example, “Who’s the old female character from the Fishing District?” “Which important male character uses trident?” Such details will help the info stick better, giving you a chance to remember a more complex picture as required.
Be Open to New Options
Flashcards won’t work for everyone. It’s a simple albeit unpleasant truth you have to accept: even in case you follow each recommendation whole-heartedly, you might still end up not remembering things properly. Don’t think you’re doomed now, and don’t be in a rush to blame yourself or others. It’s just there is no one universal method that would have a 100% success rate. We are all different, and our minds respond to different methods with varying effectiveness. Maybe you’ll have better luck with video lessons. At the same time, you might be in need of a dryer or a more active form of memorizing. Try various methods, find the one that works best for you, and start using it. Listen to your peers, find out what they consider helpful, and try doing the same. Flashcards are amazing and have made a huge amount of students confident in their knowledge, but ultimately, they aren’t everything.
Spend Enough Time on Doing Each Flashcard
Don’t be lazy. It might seem like an obvious piece of advice but for some reason, people, especially college students, keep disregarding it. Making cards can take a lot of time, there is no denying it. But it’s essential to make them helpful if you chose to use this method in the first place — otherwise, you’ll just waste your time without remembering anything properly. Write complete answers, without contractions you might be unable to understand later on. If you’re drawing pictures yourself, work hard on them to make them comprehensible. If you’re looking for images on the Internet, make sure you select those that you could create strong associations with. Avoid working in a half-hearted way and remember that you’re the one responsible for the effectiveness of your flashcards.
Trust Your Instincts and Help Yourself Out
Flashcards serve as the best illustration of how success can be easily combined with simplicity. You don’t need crazily complex memorizing schemes that are rumored to have helped millions of people. There is also no need for the endless sweating over the pages with the same data in desperate attempts to keep it all in mind. Note that these ways cannot be effective — after all, everything depends on a user, but this is where you have to put your trust in yourself. Know that the majority of people can remember things just by making good flashcards that have a meaning for them. Chances are, you’ll be one of them. Personal associations are a must, so create your own unique system and rely on it. Only you know what helps you best, and your flashcards will be the most effective way to keep the information you need in memory. Be creative, patient, and you’ll succeed for sure!