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Using Flashcards effectively

Flash cards can be a great way to help you memorize information, but there are ways to maximize their potential. Here are some of my suggestions:

* Make your own flashcards. The act of writing something down thoughtfully is part of what helps you remember the fact.

* Draw or paste a picture on the flashcard. Make it something memorable--surprising, funny, even gross. Every time you use the flashcard, you will associate the information with that memorable image.

* Knowing information backwards and forwards helps you build strong connections between facts.Practice this by looking at the answer side of your flashcard, and trying to remember the question.

* Don't just "flash" your flashcards. Sort or organize them. FOr example, if you are studying science facts, you could make up categories, and sort the flashcards into them. Example categories could include "Laws with equilibrium constants," or "Things I don't remember," or "Something to do with gases." Make up your own categories, and get creative.

* For memorizing math facts, such as the multiplication table, arrange the cards into a table, or sort them by answers that have the same ones digit. This is especially useful for helping you factor large numbers. For example, if you wanted to factor 323, knowing that 7 X 9 gives you a number with "3" in the ones place gives you a place to start: try dividing 323 by 19 or 17. 19 and 17 are the only two factors of 323!

* For memorizing history or literature facts, sort flashcards into timelines. Make your timelines visually representative--if there is a big gap between events, leave a big gap between flashcards. If many events happened in a short span, pile them up together.

* Study with a friend! You can turn Flashcards into a game, especially if you make "folded flashcards." TO make folded flashcards, fold your index card in half to make a tiny book. Write the term on the cover, and the definition on the first page. The inside cover and back cover will be blank.   

Here are just two games you can play with folded flashcards. I have lots of other games to play with my students!

Memory: Use two sets of folded flashcards. Fold one set backwards so that the definition shows on the back instead of the term. Put the blank sides up and arrange in a grid. Turn over two at a time. If you turned over a term and its matching definition, you have a match, and you get to keep both cards. If you're not sure, flash the book open to check. 

Go fish: Use two sets of folded flashcards. Fold one set backwards so that the definition shows on the back instead of the term. Mix them and deal to any number of players. Some players will see the term, and others the definition. So when you ask for a "matching" card, you have to remember what term matches which definition. If you're not sure, flash the book open to check.

Do you have any suggestions for using flashcards effectively?

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Jinjer M.

Math and Science Tutor for Active or Artistic Students

200+ hours