Write your own flashcards
While you’re writing, your brain works harder than when you’re typing. You’re not just thinking about what you’re going to write, but also how you’re going to write it: you appeal to your motor skills. While you’re writing you’re already retaining information. You’re also creating a visual image of the flashcard: this sticks to your memory faster than something you typed out.
Use images, schemes and drawings when possible
Images are easier to remember than a piece of text. Even more so, if you’ve made them yourself. Use as many drawings and schemes and don’t be afraid to use different colours. Invest in a set of great coloured pens and improve your flashcards.
Be creative in using mnemonics / memory aids
We all have our own associations with some words, definitions or formulas. Maybe even some odd ones. Use them! They work really well for you personally (and you’re making your own flashcards after all).
Use 1 flashcard per question or definition
It is tempting to put a summary as an answer at the back of a flashcard. But beware: there is a difference between ‘recognizing’ and ‘remembering’. An example from Economics: ‘What are macroeconomic variables?’.
There are six: Demographic (population composition, etc.), Economic (Purchasing power, inflation, etc.), Social (ethics, etc.), Technical (internet, etc.), Government (laws, etc.) and Politics.
It is easy to put these 6 variables on one flashcard. The result is that during studying you do not know all of them separately, but only in a context. And you probably know 2 and you recognize 4. So put in the extra effort to use one card for each definition or question, that way you can be sure that you know everything.
Say your answers out loud
This also helps with retaining information (and therefore studying). Say both the question and answer out loud, this way you’re creating new associations in your brain and studying even faster.
Study the flashcards both ways
Study not only question & answer, but also the other way around. So literally turn around your flashcards and learn answer & question. Again, this creates more associations in your memory and you’ll know the study material inside out. This will also shorten your study time.
Flashcards are not suitable for everything
The biggest advantage of flashcards is also the biggest disadvantage. You use flashcards to study small chunks of material. Perfect for studying a lot of definitions, idiom or formulas. Yet you lose sight of the bigger picture: you can no longer see complex relationships. Always pick the method best suitable for your study material.
Read first, then make flashcards
Always start by reading the material carefully before you start making the flashcards. You have more insight into the study assignment and therefore also a good picture of the type of flashcards you have to make.