Using revision flash cards as part of your learning can help you to recall and remember key information quickly which is vital for achieving top grades in your GCSE exams, A Level exams or any other kind of test. In this post, we'll explore why revision flash cards can help you revise effectively and how to make your revision flash cards.
What are revision flash cards?
Flashcards are small (usually A6) double-sided cards used to learn and revise information including facts, formulas, keywords and meanings.
They can be used to learn about a wide range of subjects from geography and modern languages to science and maths. They help a student learn the relationship between two pieces of information such as a keyword or phrase and its meaning.
You can write a question, a fact or a keyword on one side and the answer/meaning on the reverse and challenge yourself to recall the answer/meaning before you turn the card over.
Revision flashcards can be prepared when you start your revision for an exam or as you work through your studies, helping you learn as you go (see our revision blog - 'Exam Stress and Mental Health' for more revision tips).
Why are revision flashcards effective?
Revision flashcards have a refined amount of space to write on. This forces you to be concise and condense your class notes or a text book summary into key facts you need to learn. It also helps prevent you becoming overwhelmed by the amount of information in front of you.
Our subject branded revision flashcards go one step further by making it really easy to locate your cards for a specific subject quickly and easily. This helps you feel more organised; saving time and reducing negative stress.
The act of writing your own flashcards, rather than typing up notes, appeals to your motor-memory. You have to read your notes or a text book, process and understand a fact or piece of information and then think about what you are going to write in order to create succinct notes on your flashcard. This process activates more areas of your brain, helping you to learn.
Using flashcards for your revision provides you with a concise and portable set of facts - explained in your own words - that you can use to study whenever and where ever you are. You can quickly and easily revisit the same information again and again until you know it off by heart.
How do you use revision flash cards?
So you have all of the facts, phrases and formulas written on your flashcards - what do you do next?
You can use your flashcards to 'self-test' or ask a friend or family member to test you - think of it as Trivial Pursuit but without the game board, pies or pie holders!
This process of continuously practicing and learning the same information over and over again helps facts lodge in your long term memory. Once you know a flashcard 'off by heart' you can set it aside and focus on the trickier flashcards making best use of your study time. After a few days, return to the flashcard and test yourself again to check you can still recall the facts.
This process of repetitive learning using flashcards was established by a German science journalist called Sebastian Leitner and is widely used by students across the world.
About The Leitner System
The Leitner System is a well-known and very effective method of using flashcards. It's a form of spaced repetition that helps you study the flashcards you don't know more often than the flashcards you already know well.
It involves organising your revision flashcards into piles based on how well you can recall the information they contain. Most examples use four sets of cards and store them in boxes but you can use more or less depending on the volume of information you need to learn and the amount of time you have in which to learn it.
Here's how the Leitner System works:
All flashcards start off in pile 1. Review each card and test yourself on the contents. Every time you get the facts or questions on the card correct you move the card to pile 2. You repeat the process on each card in pile 1 at frequent intervals, such as every day.
You repeat the process on the cards in pile 2 less frequently, such as every two days. When you correctly recall the answers to the questions or facts on these cards you move them to pile 3.
Cards in pile 3 can be reviewed less frequently again, such as every three days. Once you're confident you know the information on the cards you can move them to pile 4.
Pile 4 contains information which you should feel you know well and could recall easily. These cards can be reviewed less frequently than any others, such as every four days.
Important - if at any point you answer a question or recall the definition of a keyword or fact incorrectly on a card in piles 2, 3 or 4 then the card needs to be moved back to pile 1 where it starts the process again.
You can use your Weekly Revision Planner to schedule in when you should review each flashcard pile.
The Leitner System is designed to allow you to spend the most time on the facts or theories you know the least. This helps you focus your revision where it is needed the most. It can also help boost your confidence - bonus!
How to make revision flashcards?
Firstly, read over your class notes, reminding yourself of the topics and ideas you need to learn. We recommend doing this a couple of times for the best outcome.
Next, run through your class notes again and this time use a highlighter to mark the most important points. The reason behind this next stage is to identify important definitions, key terms, quotes, key process, formulas or anything else that is vital for you to know.
Finally, you can write this refined information onto the revision flashcards. This is the fun and creative stage! It is important to use plenty of colour and diagrams when writing the flashcards as this helps your memory to retain the information. When writing out definitions on the flashcards, write the question on one side of the flashcards and answer on the other.
Going through this process once kicks off your revision. You can then follow the Leitner flashcard system to make the process of revising using flashcards even more effective.
Our range of subject branded revision flashcards has been designed by students for students and works brilliantly with the Leitner System. Flashcards are subject branded and almost every subject is offered. However, we also provide plain lined flashcards with an attractive aqua stripe design.
We have also created daily revision planners and weekly revision planners to help you organise your studies and plan in study breaks, goals and social time - all essential to maintaining positive and healthy mental well being when you're studying!
Now, go smash that revision!
Flashcards, Flashcards, Flashcards. How fantastic flashcards are!