It’s the night before that big test. You’ve been studying for days, but you’re still not sure that you’ve mastered the material. There are a lot of facts and vocabulary to memorize and at this point, it’s all starting to blur together. We’ve all been there. The stresses of school and achieving perfect scores are at an all-time high. Perfect grades lead to perfect colleges and even more perfect careers. But before that can happen, you need to memorize these darn facts. Ugh!

But… that’s where index cards come to the rescue. Sure, they’re not your typical superhero, but they are useful. Using index cards the right way to prepare for a big exam is definitely helpful. From the moment you write information down on your makeshift flash card to the moment you begin reciting the facts it contains, you are learning. Furthermore, using index cards helps you form a checklist of the information you need to know and what you still need to work on.

Many students think that making flash cards is a waste of time. However, you can maximize your study time by bringing index cards to class, making flash cards as your teacher mentions key points. In addition, these notes serve as a reminder to help guide you through the study process. It is important to understand that there are ways to use and misuse flash cards. To ensure that this study tool helps increase your scores, it is necessary for you to make sure that you are using them effectively.

How to Not Use Flash Cards

If you read your textbook, it would seem that its pages contain a lot of important information. Before creating flash cards, you must first think about the type of questions your teacher will ask on your test. Often, test questions will cover the vocabulary terms found in your textbook (look for the bold words). For science tests, it is helpful to record the meaning of important formulas and scientific laws. For history exams, it is important to highlight key dates and people. In many cases, each sentence written in your textbook will seem necessary and you may want to include all of this information on your flash cards. However, you should resist the urge. It is challenging to memorize the whole book. Even if there is only a small amount of information to memorize, you must use the time before your test efficiently. Focusing on key ideas will help you get a better grade than if you focus on the complete content of the chapter.

How to Use Flash Cards

Limit yourself to 10-20 flash cards for tests and about 10 cards for quizzes. A comprehensive final exam may require more. However, the goal here is for you to think of the top 10 to 20 points that you should know for your topic. A great way to identify important ideas is by checking the information contained in your textbook, notes, and worksheets. Cross-reference this data to determine which points appear the most frequently. Then, think about how questions on these topics could be phrased. Write the questions you create on one side of the flash cards and the associated answers on the other side. Test yourself to see what you know and what you still need to work on. If time allows, have a friend or a tutor test you and ask them to provide you with feedback. Knowing that you have an understanding of all of the facts written on your index cards will allow you to begin your test confidently because you are more likely to feel assured that you know the answers.

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The Utility of Index Cards as a Study Tool

Use index cards to make your own flash cards and improve your test scores.

Cheryl M., Essay Queen Staff