Some people use flash cards help remember stuff through rote repetition.

Many people keep a few Wiki:IndexCard?s in a pocket, each one holding one thing he's trying to memorize.

When they're waiting around at a bus stop, waiting in line, etc., they review them.

Some people punch a hole in each card, then tie them together with string. That makes it less likely that you'll lose one as you're walking around reviewing them. It keeps them in order if you're memorizing something that has an inherent order, such as lines to a play. It can help you make sure that you've gone through all of them at least once. But it interferes with the "shuffling" that some people recommend.

You can make it into a game by writing on both sides of the card. Look at one side, and try to guess at what's on the other side. Flip it over -- if you're right, you "win".

Don't spend a lot of time thinking on any one card. Try to keep moving through the pile of cards as fast as possible.

Some people are coordinated enough to review the cards as they are walking from one place to another. Take a few steps, glance down at the top card then quickly look back up, take a few more steps. Flip the top card over without looking at it. Glance down again then quickly look back up, take a few more steps. Was it what you expected ? No -- stop and read the correct answer more carefully. Yes -- continue walking, and move it to the bottom of the stack. Glance down at the next card and quickly look back up. Repeat.

If you're memorizing lines of a play, put the cue (the line spoken by the previous actor) on one side. Read that and try to guess your own line, on the other side.

Or if you're memorizing a large speech, put one sentence on the cue side and the next sentence on the other side.

Shuffle keeping the cue side up.

Perhaps the name of something on one side, and the definition / mathematical formula on the other side.

Or put Deutsch word on one side, the English word on the other side.

Or "8 x 7" on one side, "56" on the other side.

Shuffle and randomly flip some of the cards over.


Some people try to "focus" on the cards they are having more difficulty memorizing.

One method:

While playing the game, if you correctly guess what's on the back of the card on the top of the pile, move it to the bottom of the pile.

If you can't guess it, just move it "a little way" down from the top -- perhaps only 2 or 3 cards down, or perhaps halfway down.

The process of sorting out "the important part" of some subject and hand-writing that onto the index cards seems to be far more educational than letting someone else make the cards for you.

I found particularly useful to write the name of the thing on a side and the real stuff on the back, but using mini flash cards (2x3 cm or less, obtained by cutting bigger ones). This is very useful with FlashCards? with little data, for example to learn japanese Kanjis, I use to write an english word on one side, and the kanji+pronounce on the other. It is also valuable to me to keep on a FlashCard no kind of ambiguous information. Thus, again taking in example ideograms, if you have something that could have more than one meaning, it is better to have two different cards than one with two concepts.

I found this helpful also in LearningFormulas? though probably there are better ways.



What alternatives work better than flash cards ? Do they always work better than flash cards, or are there some subjects where flash cards work better ?

Has anyone actually measured whether shuffling really helps, compared to always going through from the first to the last ? [It confirms that you are recalling that item A is associated with item B rather than that you are recalling that the 3rd answer down a list is item B - M Curtis]

Some people (claim to) read or hear something once, then recall it later. If everyone could do that, we would never need flash cards.

Say Chemistry, Geometry, and History all have a test friday. Should I have a seperate set of flash cards for each class, and study each set for 10 minutes at a time ? Or would it be better to shuffle them all together into one big set ? -- DavidCary?

(moved from SemCubed)

Personally, I use the SuperMemo flashcard program on a palmtop computer (see http://mapletop.com/ ) for revision, combined with memory images similar to those described by Dominic O'Brien. So far I've memorised about 18,000 items of information, mostly of foreign language vocabulary.


external links

"authoring and playing back educational content in a format suited for optimal absorption." -- Wiki:ExtremeMeme?

Supermemo - A flashcard program for Windows or Palm Pilot that employs SpacedRepetition and IncrementalReading? to aid learning.