How I Use Flashcards To Study Efficiently

This short guide will give you an introduction to using flashcards to study and will also cover some more complex additions to your flashcard deck.

 

Why am I writing this blog?

Getting through medical school requires you to memorise large amounts of information. If done inefficiently this can potentially take up huge amounts of time – more time than you have! Therefore below are a few thoughts and ideas as to how you can use flashcards to memorise things faster.

 

Check out the steps below to get started:

 

1. Why use flashcards

With large amounts information to learn time is against you and you want to try and be as efficient as possible – one way of achieving this could be by using flashcards. The beauty of flashcard programs such ANKI is the inbuilt algorithm that will remind you of repeating your cards in a “spaced” way. In this way you will be reminded of things continuously to prevent you forgetting it! This is a proven way to incorporate information into your long-term memory. A lot of people prefer doing handwritten cards and if you feel that the action of writing something down by hand helps you this is another option!

 

2. How to make them

Making the flashcards can be as complex or as simple as you want it and this comes down to personal choice in the end. Most programs are very intuitive when you start them up but if you are lost have a look at Youtube for advice but do also keep an eye on In2Med’s website for videos about this in the future. The simplest flashcard will just be of the form with a front and a back. The best advice to give is to be consistent and make them short and useful. Also make sure the information you put down is correct so you don’t end up learning the wrong thing!

 

3. How to use them

Making the flashcards can be as complex or as simple as you want it and this comes down to personal choice in the end. Most programs are very intuitive when you start them up but if you are lost have a look at Youtube for advice but do also keep an eye on In2Med’s website for videos about this in the future. The simplest flashcard will just be of the form with a front and a back. The best advice to give is to be consistent and make them short and useful. Also make sure the information you put down is correct so you don’t end up learning the wrong thing!

 

4. Complement them:

Flashcards are hugely useful, and I would definitely anyone to give them a go. However, as with any form of learning, it is wise not to rely on one tool alone. Using other ways of learning, such as videos or question banks, can give you different types of information, delivered in a different way, that will ultimately help you to best succeed in your exams (and become a better doctor!). It’s also a great way to avoid becoming too bored with revision.

 

5. Be consistent – make them short:

The point of a flashcard is not to spend time absorbing huge amounts of information from one card or reading through large chunks of notes. The point is to stimulate your brain to actively recall information. In order to do this, it is often best to make flashcards short and to the point and make a real effort to avoid bloating them up with too much text. Not only will you be able to do them quicker, but they’ll also stick with you more if you’re spending more time actually trying to recall information than you are reading the card.

 

6. Advanced flashcard ideas

If you are interested in becoming even more efficient with your study regime you can also consider importing pre-made flashcards that you can find by searching online or adding so-called addons which can give new and interesting features. Finally, some programs will allow you to insert videos and soundbites to learn from.

Carina Luxhoj
University of Cambridge

About The Author

Carina is a medical student at the University of Cambridge. Originally from Denmark, Carina has a passion for learning and developing learning resources for students.