As a student who has recently endured the gruelling six-week period of exams as well as the months and months of revision beforehand, I can tell you it is not easy. Even without the reminder and stress of how important these exams are, finding a revision method that works for you is a constant pressure.
For me, flashcards really helped me revise the many facts that I needed to learn.
Flashcards are easy and fast to make if you use correct methods. They are a great form of portable revision. You can fit lots of vital information and key points within the flashcards, whether there is lots of content to fit in or merely a definition to revise.
Flashcards were a pivotal part of my revision, resulting in a calmer attitude towards the examination and more knowledge and understanding for my studies.
Why not just buy pre-made flashcards?
You can, of course, buy pre-made flash cards, which can be useful when there are thousands of facts to learn, but you’ll learn better by making your own flash cards.
When you use pre-made flash cards, you save time but miss the opportunity to present the information in your own words, and that is an important part of learning information – as if you are teaching it yourself.
Making your own flash cards also allows you to customize them and make them better.
Why create online flashcards, and not handwritten?
Handwriting flashcards onto index cards can help you learn while you create but it’s slow and your wrists will ache after just a couple of cards! And it’s risky, as you have no back up.
So here’s why we recommend using a computer to create your flashcards.
- Speed. Your computer doesn’t get as tired typing as your fingers get writing.
- Ease. With your content digitised, you can easily see the appropriate content and use it appropriately.
- Safety. With all your flashcards online the consequences of losing them are no longer as daunting as if you wrote them by hand because you can always just print them out and edit them again.
- Write only one question per card
- Break complex concepts Into multiple questions
- Say your answers out loud when studying—preferably to someone else
How to make flashcards quickly and easily
To make flashcards using my computer (I use a Chromebook, but you can use a Windows PC or Mac) I use Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Slides. Google Drive allows me to organise all my notes clearly, sorting them carefully by topic and making it easily accessible.
With Google Docs I create the online notes that include the content I want to appear on each flashcard.
Then simply print the page of cards and cut out each. Folding and glueing—rope your parents into this tedious task—are the final physical touches to creating your set of revision flashcards.
What you need to make the flashcards
- Google Drive
- Google Docs
- Google Slides
- A printer
- Paper and ink
- Scissors and glue
Google offers a useful (and free!) suite of office applications: Google Docs (word processor) Google Sheets (spreadsheet) and Google Slides (presentations). Files created and edited through the Google Docs suite are saved in Google Drive.
To help us create flash cards using a computer, we’ll be using Google Slides. If you already have Google Docs, you can skip this step.
First you need a Google account. If you have a Gmail address, you already have a Google account, so you can simply sign into Drive using your Gmail information.
Setting up a new Google account is straightforward. Rather than go through every step here, where we want to focus on creating flash cards, we recommend you follow the steps here. Then come back to this article to start making your flashcards.
How to create flashcards on a computer
- Open Google Drive by logging in with your Google account, or by clicking on the Waffle—that’s the box of nine dots in the top-right corner of the Google Chrome browser next to your profile image—Google prefers to call the waffle the “App Launcher Icon”. I prefer Waffle.
2. If you already have any folders in your Google Drive, you may want to create a “Revision” folder first so you can keep all your revision materials in one easy-to-find location.
Then create a folder on the more specific topic for your flashcard collection, for example “Biology”.
3. Go back to the Waffle to open Google Docs and write your content in a new document.
A top tip in my experience is to use Voice Typing, which saves hours spent physically typing with countless typos and tired fingers. Voice Typing is found in Tools in the Google Docs menu bar.
4. Back to the Waffle to open Google Slides to start a new presentation. Make sure it is allocated in the correct folder.
Open shapes and choose the structure of your flashcard.
5. Simply choose a shape, duplicate it and then paste in your content, creating a pairing question to the content of one card.
6. Type your question (in bold) on one box and your answer in the adjacent box, using your content from the notes in Google Docs. You can use a different color for the answer, but this will increase ink costs.
7. Next print out the Google Slides you just created. There’s no need to cut each one out individually—if you cut them out in their Question/Answer pairs, you can just fold them in the middle before sticking the two sides together with a glue stick.
You’ll find you have so many flashcards that you need to organize and store them all to keep everything manageable.
Organize the flashcards by topic (say, Superpower Relations) within the subject (History). Clip all the topic flashcards using binder clips—you’ll need several different sizes depending on the number of flashcards per topic.
The keep all the clipped together topic cards in a boldly labelled accordion folder by subject—Biology, Geography, etc.