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This blog and its resources are here to assist all students throughout their college years and into their careers. Blog is moderated by a Certified Professional Career Coach and Master Tutor Trainer. Site moderator, Neil O'Donnell, is an EOP graduate of Buffalo State College and can be reached at odonnenp@buffalostate.edu.

Flash Card: An Essential Study Aid for College Students

Flash Cards That Work

Flash cards remain one of the best strategies for learning and retaining information.  Unfortunately, many students don’t devote time to making flash cards.  Why?  Many students think flash cards take too much time to make or are only supposed to be used in high school.  Neither of these arguments really holds any water.  To that end, Below are a list of things to consider when creating flash cards.

1)       Don’t wait to start making flash cards.  Flash cards are only truly effective if students study the cards over a period of time.  Students should create flash cards for every term or person discussed in class lectures or in textbook readings.

2)      Use paper or index cards.  A number of students have told me they didn’t make flash cards because index cards were too expensive.  I’ll agree that bookstores charge an arm and a leg for supplies, including 3” by 5” index cards.  However, paper cut up into pieces is just as effective.

3)      Make cards for BOLD FACED terms found in texts.  Bold faced terms are often critical concepts that professors expect students to know for tests.  As a student reads textbook chapters, he/she should make a flash card.  Consider also making flash cards for italicized words.

4)      Make cards for anything repeated in notes and lectures.  Students should create flash cards for individuals, events or terms that are discussed in class lecture AND appear in textbook chapters.

5)      Write clearly.  If you can’t read your own handwriting, flash cards will be useless.  Consider printing as opposed to cursive handwriting.

6)      Basic Flash Card Design/Format: Write down term or person’s name on one side and relevant information on the other.


                     George Washington


-  1st President of the United States
-   Commander in Chief of the Continental 
- Served as a colonel in the French & Indian 
War under the command of British General 

7)      Add drawings, which provide visuals to learn from.  Don’t worry if you are not the best drawer in the world.  That said, you could always make photocopies of images, reduce the image size, and cut out/past image to flash card.

8)      Bring flash cards with you to class.  Add any additional related information discussed in lectures in later classes.  Write information in pencil so it can be erased if necessary.

9)      Actually study the cards when your time permits.  The cards are relatively useless if you don’t read through them periodically.  This includes scanning through the cards during any breaks as well as during study sessions.

10)  Have friends test you on your knowledge of the cards.  Ask a classmate or friend to show you the name or term on the front of the card and try to recall information on the back of the cards.  Any cards you repeatedly struggle with indicate you might need to reread related lecture notes and textbook chapters before the next test or quiz.

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