How to make flashcards

Updated at 13 Apr 2022

We, as students, are always looking for ways to improve our learning. There are many options for education and studying, including digital tools, notes, and flashcards. Flashcards can be simple and traditional, but they are also one of the best tools for learning.

We'll explain why flashcards can be so helpful and then show you how to create flashcards. There are many ways to make them, including online and mobile apps.

What are flashcards?

how to make flashcards

Flashcards are small notes cards that can be used to test and improve memory by practicing information retrieval. Flashcards are usually two-sided, with the prompt and information on the other. These may include names, concepts, vocabulary. One side may read "Biblioklept" and the other "One who steals books". There are usually several flashcards, which, taken together, represent the category of information that you want to learn, remember, master.

Why flashcards are useful

Flashcards can be an effective way to self-test. Making flashcards can be a great way to work the information. It will challenge you to consider which information should be on each side and what description is on the other. You can use flashcards as part of spaced practice. Repeating the information helps you determine what information is easy to remember and what requires more effort. Finally, flashcards are a great time-management tool that allows you to make the most of any time available, whether during study sessions or throughout the day.

why use flashcards: are they useful

Active recall(or, see on Wiki) is required for flashcards. You can't just review your notes or watch a YouTube video about the subject. Instead, you must guess or recall the correct answer. Active recall is a test of your memory. This gives you the chance to recall the solution instead of relying on notes and others. Your brain and memory work actively to retain and learn the information better than if it were only passively experienced.

Metacognition is also involved in flashcards. This refers to your awareness of your thoughts and processes. This is when you correctly guess the answer and flip the card over to verify your accuracy. You are self-evaluating your abilities and correcting yourself if you get it wrong by looking at the answer. This helps you improve your learning abilities and help you master the subject matter.

Flashcards also employ spaced repetition, which is a method of learning where you repeatedly refer to the same material. Your brain will recall information more quickly if you constantly interact with the same topics. Flashcards that are structured into groups with different information and difficulty levels work best for spacing repetition. This practice allows for more frequent reviews of complex issues than simple topics. It reinforces spaced learning.

flashcards and spaced repetition

How to create flashcards

Flashcards can be made by hand or digitally using tools. Although making cards by hand is faster than creating them online, some students prefer to have physical cards. Both are equally effective. You'll have to choose which medium you like. Check out these handy tips and apps to help you make flashcards.

Handwritten by pen and paper

Start with index cards to make your flashcards. You can also cut regular sheets of paper into equal pieces if you don't own index cards. You can then write it by hand or use Google Docs or Microsoft Word to type it and print it. Writing the information can help you learn and process it faster than typing it into a computer form.

making flashcards by hand

You can also take your paper flashcards to class. However, you may not be allowed to access flashcards on your mobile phone during classes because many teachers and schools have restrictions or bans on using phones.

Using apps and online tools

You may try to use apps to make flashcards online. The apps make the process easy and quick in comparison with manual creation. Online flashcards might be more convenient for students who are used to working on computers and workbooks.

You can make flashcards using many different websites and apps. E.g., Quizlet, Cram. The Flashcard Machine can be used to add sound to flashcards, which is great for auditory learners. If you prefer group learning sessions, you can create flashcard sets with other students.

AnkiWeb interface to make flashcards

Let's consider the most popular and effective free tool to make flashcards: Anki.

How does Anki work

Anki, an open-source flashcard application that utilizes repeated repetition algorithms. It helps you avoid natural forgetting.

Anki can assist you deliberately in storing information in long-term memory, even if your recall skills aren't exceptional. However, there is a caveat.

  • Anki is used to supplement your learning process.
  • It's not a magic bullet nor a replacement for poor learning skills. However, it is a great tool.
  • Anki only covers the last of the brain's processes for long-term data encoding.
  • Anki won't help you if the first second-thirds is not working correctly in the system you are using for studying.

If you use Anki correctly, you can have a tremendous advantage over other people that use conservative methods:

  • It is almost a guarantee that whatever you learn (if done correctly) will be remembered for a long period of time.
  • Your prior knowledge allows you to quickly grasp complex concepts.
  • This eliminates the time-consuming study activity that is most time-wasting: Restudying what you have already studied because you forgot.
  • It is possible to turn your downtime into productive study hours (for example, Anki allows you to practice 50 items while you eat).

The best part is that you will enjoy a significant long-term efficiency advantage. How to use Anki effectively? The best way is to get used to it by practicing a lot(make many flashcards and see what works best for you).

Tips to use flashcards more productive

Flashcards can be a great way of supplementing your learning and getting the most out of the time you spend studying. Flashcards are great for learning dates, facts, vocabulary, history, and foreign languages. Here are some tips for making flashcards and studying flashcards more effective, no matter what subject you are in.

Keep the information simple

keep simple information in flashcards to memorize better

Flashcards should have only one topic or answer per card. This makes it easy to review and study and prevents the study session from becoming overwhelming. For questions with more than one answer, it is best to avoid using bullet points. Instead, to aid memorization, create flashcards that correspond to each answer.

It's a good idea for those who need to memorize more complicated topics to be broken down into smaller sections. Then, a larger flashcard can connect the ideas or lay them out in a way that helps to understand how the smaller pieces relate to form a larger concept.

Speak the information out loud

For learning new content, repetition is critical. Learning is more effective if you use all your senses. For example, you'll be more likely to recall the information if you write it down and then say it aloud while studying. This is because active study methods are being used.

Employ images, videos

make flashcards with images

As if you were saying the answer loudly, visuals can help you associate the topics and make it easier to remember the information. To help with complex issues, you can make silly drawings or draw images to represent vocabulary words. Highlighters can be used to highlight important information and direct your attention to the correct answer.

Combine various things and methods

Try to study flashcards in a different sequence. It will prevent you from memorizing only the order of correct answers but not the actual information. You can reverse the order of your flashcards by going in one direction. You can flip the cards around and go through the flashcard deck several times per study session. You can also read the answers to the questions and attempt to recall the answer. It builds neurological pathways that help memory recall.

Review and learn frequently

It is said that practice makes perfect. If you don't use your flashcards and note cards often, they won't be of many benefits to you. Regular study is crucial for learning, whether you are studying for college exams or advanced exams in high school. For the best results, plan a flashcard study session at minimum once a week and refresh your concepts before taking an exam.

How do flashcards work?

Flashcards effectively imprint information in our short- and long-term memory when used correctly. As a result, flashcards can be very effective in helping you learn. It all depends on how often you review the information and revise what's been learned.

Cognitive science has revealed several strategies to aid learners in memorizing information. Flashcards can be used in all of these strategies and are a great way for cognitive science to be brought into the classroom.


Interleaving refers to mixing and matching topics. It allows the learner to make connections between the issues and helps them process the information more efficiently. This contrasts with blocked practice, which involves students studying a subject intensely before moving on to another.

Suppose a student is studying a novel in English, for example. In that case, they might need to know about the novel's characters, plot, themes, and structure. The student can make stronger connections between these different areas in their brain, which will help them better understand the entire novel. This knowledge and the cyclical revision process make it easier to recall information.

Retrieval practice

The purpose of retrieval practice is to support learning by encouraging students not to introduce new information but to recall and build upon what they already know. This strategy can be used during plenaries and starters to help students get in the mood to celebrate and learn from their previous knowledge in different subject areas.

Suppose you want to use flashcards in retrieval practice, for example. In that case, you could give each student a set and ask them to list as many facts as possible about the topic. Then, the students could work in small groups to create a larger deck of flashcards. Again, make sure to remove duplicates. The class could then discuss their ideas, and the flashcards could go on the shelf for revision later.

This activity is an excellent example of retrieval practice. It celebrates what students know and exposes them to information they might have forgotten or not considered at the time. This information can be re-enforced in the long-term memory to be available for later use.

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