Turn Five

A K-12 Education Blog

Flashcards and Memory


If you were to look up the term flashcards, the first listings that arise would most likely be about flash cards for computers. Information about flash cards as an aid to memory may be farther down on any search list; however, these remain a great tool for study as long as they are used appropriately.

No strategy for study will be helpful if your mind is not ready to learn. For that, you need to get enough sleep (for teens this may be anywhere from eight to nine hours), and to give your brain the right nutrition . Eating fruits and vegetables may not seem like a plan to help in course work, but consuming the right foods will help you be more alert.

If you’re studying a field where there’s a great deal of information to learn, flashcards work especially well. If you’re studying equations or formulas, dates or names, or vocabulary words, these cards can be your friends. Completing math worksheets becomes much easier once you have mastered the underlying mathematical formulas and tables using flashcards.

Flashcards can be convenient – easy to carry, and easier to review than searching through a text book or through hastily scribbled notes from class. They are also a tool that aids in memory as you create the cards themselves. The very act of making flashcards will allow you to better recall the words you’re attempting to learn.

To make these cards, take 3×5 index cards and write the word or phrase you wish to learn on one side of the card. On the opposite side of the card, you may include several pieces of information depending on what you want to learn: It might be the definition of the word, its use in a sentence, or the origin or etymology of the word. If you wish to learn a concept or formula instead, then the same strategy would be used: Write the concept on one side of the flash card, then flip it and write the definition for the concept (or an explanation for a mathematical formula) on the other side of the card.

To use the cards, simply review the cards often, wherever you might have a spare moment: On a bus, a train, waiting in line. Make sure that you’ve prepared the cards well in advance of the date on which you need the information (such as a test), and review them frequently. Concentrate on the cards containing information about which you’re less certain.

We learn by a variety of methods – by listening, by watching, and by doing. For more information about this and flashcards, you might look at http://dynamo.dictionary.com/ , where you’ll find that use of flashcards can be an excellent aid to memory.

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