Why you should learn with flashcards

Author: Mike and Matty

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

The best way to learn large amounts of information quickly is by using flashcards. Why? Because flashcards allow you to implement 3 of the best evidence-based learning techniques: active recall, spaced repetition, and interleaving… all at the same time!

When you write a question on one side and the answer on the opposite side of a flashcard, you can easily employ active recall by quizzing yourself. Flashcards encourage you to break down complex concepts into multiple cards containing fundamental ideas that you can easily mix up, interleave, and study in random order. And finally, with bite-sized information, you can use spaced repetition to focus your studies, and learn even faster with digital flashcards.

Learning with flashcards sounds like a no-brainer, but before you go all-in, you should ask yourself whether or not you should be making your own, or downloading someone else’s pre-made deck. Here are a few questions to consider.

A common mistake is to make flashcards before understanding the material. Learning is most effective when you understand the material before attempting to commit it to memory. Jumping straight to making flashcards without understanding the big picture concepts will result in you putting too much information on your flashcards.

It can sometimes be difficult to understand someone else’s flashcards. You are more likely to understand your own since they are in your own words.

If you have to take a test that is coming up very soon, then using someone else’s flashcards can save a lot of time.

If you don’t have time constraints, it’s often better to make your own. Making your own flashcards encourages active learning and will be better for your long-term memory.

If you have no experience in making quality flashcards, it may be beneficial to study the cards of an experienced learner.

Once you get a better handle of what good flashcards look like, you can start making your own. Check out our 10 steps to making better flashcards here.

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