Index cards: Yellow, white, pink, A5, A6, A7 – the variations are seemingly endless. They come in all shapes and colors and have long been part of the standard repertoire of students. But how do you design the index cards in a meaningful way and how should learning work with them? You can find the answers to these questions in this article!
In short: there is a good reason why so many students learn with these little cards! Learning with them makes exam preparation easier and ultimately leads to good exam performance. Why is that?
Handwritten Preparation Of Index Cards
Learning with flashcards is superior to other learning methods because your progress starts with the first second. We already internalize the material when writing the index cards. The handwriting of key points in our wording ensures that we process the plain material more deeply than just reading it. That means meaningful preparation is already half the battle! But the working out of the learning material could of course also be implemented on normal paper. So, what are the specific advantages of these learning aids?
The Integrated Learning Format
Flashcards enable a learning format that comes closest to the exam. You write an exam question or a headline on one side and the corresponding answer or the applicable university material on the other side. When learning, you initially only look at the front. As in the exam, the question to be answered is available to you. But you have to formulate the answer freely without any clues. Cheating and generously omitting subject areas that one “actually already knows” is more difficult due to the index card format. You constantly check what you can already do and what you need to repeat, because your hesitation when working on the flashcards is a clear indication of a lack of knowledge. Even if you have already memorized everything, you can continue to use them to review the material.
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Flashcards Are Handy!
Index cards are clearer and smaller than collections of sheets or binders. This makes them loyal companions because you can take them with you everywhere. This gives you no excuse not to study while traveling. They are also sturdier and can drop a few raindrops in an emergency. Their format makes them handy!
Handy in a different way is a flashcard app! It is great for students who prefer to study on their cell phones or laptops. Such an app is recommended if you value legibility and reusability. Once typed, you can use it at any time, improve it or share it with fellow students. You can also share the work with your fellow students, in which everyone works out something and you put your files together at the end! You also save paper and can make use of many extras.
They Enable Schematic Learning
By limiting space to one index card, you are forced to define thematic fields and minimize your learning material. You reduce the learning material to the essentials. Keywords become more obvious, and you save yourself working out and memorizing useless knowledge. You can also separate the different themes on a more abstract level by separating the cards. In the exam, it will then be easier for you to differentiate between topics and to come up with the core idea of a topic.
There Is A Method For Everyone
Index cards are only a means to an end. How you learn with them is up to you. There are many different ways to acquire knowledge. The default method is the flashcard method. The cards come in a box with dividers. If you know a flashcard, it slides into the next separate compartment. Now you first go through all the cards that are still in the first compartment, i.e., those that you cannot yet. Later you repeat all the flashcards and sort them again according to “I can” and “I can’t yet”. This method can be extended in many ways. You can use multiple dividers and organize your flashcards by skill level. Another breakdown would be by topic or the likelihood of the topic being asked in the exam.
If you are more of a visual person, you can also create mind maps on your flashcards, which you then expand over and over again. You can also learn your flashcards in specific places in your room or follow specific routes while studying. Then you would have combined this method with the loci method. So, feel free to try something out!
One thing is certain: you basically can’t do much wrong with index cards. In this video, Daniel shows you how to get the most out of your index cards!