Old School?

Posted: November 8, 2012 in exams, flash cards, memorizing, study skills, test preparation

I was teaching study skills workshop yesterday, and when I paused to take questions, one young man raised his hand and asked, “You mentioned flash cards…. do you really recommend that? Isn’t that kind of old school?”

Suddenly feeling like an old schoolmarm, I told him that flash cards have been around so long because they work!  The standard equation I share with students about learning is this:

time + repetition = success 

Flash cards are the perfect tool for this. They have the advantage of being portable, so they can be tucked into a purse, coat pocket, backpack, glove compartment or whatever. When you have a few spare minutes, you can use the time for a quick review if you have study materials handy. (That is the time + repetition part!)

Here are some other cool things about flash cards: They are great for tactile and kinesthetic learners because they integrate motion and touch. They are great for visual learners and “self-expressive” learners, who might find it especially helpful to color code or decorate their cards. Flashcards are useful for almost every subject. You can use them to memorize math formulas, vocabulary words, and facts. If you are trying to memorize things that need to be remembered in a particular order, you can write each of them on separate cards and see if you can lay them out in order (number the back side so you can quickly check yourself).

So call me old-school if you want, but the fact is, if you don’t utilize this nifty, inexpensive, easy, and flexible tool, you just might just “get schooled”. And don’t just make the cards, actually use them. You will agree. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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