College Tips: Make the most of your flash cards!

Hi all!

It’s been a really REALLY long time since I’ve posted anything, but college is hitting hard as always. Just know that it’s usually a good thing that I’m not blogging because it means I’m STUDYING! (Unlike I am right now, even though I probably should be). But, hey, we all need a break sometimes, and this is what I will choose to do with mine today 🙂

So, back in the grind, it is an exam week. Not exactly finals, but when your Organic Chemistry exam counts for 20% (yes, I said 20!!) of your entire grade, it’s definitely something to be working at. It being exam week made me want to share a few tips on how to make your flash cards effective, especially in a class like Organic where memorization is key!!

Here are ten tips to make the most of your flash cards!

I thought it would be fun to make a little poster for all these tips. Let me know what you guys think!
Here's an example of one of my flash cards from Organic Chemistry!
Here’s an example of one of my flash cards from Organic Chemistry!

1. Use blank flash cards

This isn’t really a “must,” but it definitely helps. When it comes to index cards you have several options now-a-days. You can get them in different sizes, you can have them lined/blank, you can even get them in colors! But what I strongly suggest is getting blank cards so that you can use them in multiple ways (which saves money in the end). Plus, it gives you the freedom to customize them more and not be so distracted by those darn lines and colors!

2. Make them aesthetically pleasing!

Also not a “must,” but it helps because who wants to look at ugly cards? Personally, I am more likely to utilize them if they are pleasing to the eye.

3. But don’t go overboard—Keep it simple.

Definitely don’t fill up your cards to the point where they are obnoxious and distracting. I am so the type of person that gets carried away with things like this (obviously…I mean did you see my doodle page?), but simple is key. You don’t want anything to distract you from the content!

4. Color Code

This can be really beneficial, especially if you’re a visual learner. If you look at my cards for Organic, you can see that the “H” (hydrogen) is in green rather than purple. This makes it stand out to me and is a key component to understand the acidity of the compound. Now, if all that science confused you, I am simply color coding to point things out or categorize specific material so that they stand out and I can remember the material better.

5. Provide Instructions

This might just be a pet peeve of mine. But I can’t stand when cards have just ambiguous notes. WHAT are you asking me? I highly doubt your exam will just have 1 word or drawing and expect you to provide an answer. So, give yourself instructions so that you know what you are doing/studying!

This also helps when you eventually put your cards away (say, after the semester is over?). Eventually, this topic might come up again (for example, the second level of Organic chemistry). I can reuse these cards without forgetting about what it’s asking me to do, because I’m sure after a while of not looking at them I will totally forget!

6. Provide chapter headings to refer back to

If you look at my example cards, you’ll notice a small number in the bottom right-hand corner. This the the chapter of the book I got this material from. This is there in case I’m not too sure about the topic. I can easily refer to this corner and then go to my book and read up on the material! This saves me time and lets me know what topics I should be focusing on and looking back in the chapter for!

7. Incorporate important concepts

A lot of the times, flash cards are used for definitions/equations/other straight memorization topics, but don’t forget that you can incorporate concepts as well. For example, I made one that said “Is an acid with a higher pKa more or less acidic than another with a lower pKa?” This tests whether I know the relationship between pKa and acidity. You can make flash cards for just about anything, and I would definitely recommend throwing some key concepts and ideas into your cards, just so that while you’re studying, you will pick these up on the way!

8. Make use of your time—study while you make them!

While I’m making the cards, I try to see how much I can remember beforehand. This helps you know what you know and don’t know (if that makes sense). It is also good to make one, then memorize it before you make the next one. Then keep adding until you’ve virtually remembered them all (even for a short time). This gradual memorization will really help in the end!

9. When you use them, mix them up!

It doesn’t help if you’re memorizing them in order—the material will most likely not be in order on the exam! Mix them up. Know them backwards AND forewords AND in any other order. Know the material inside and out so that there are no surprises when it’s time for your exam!

10. USE them!

I can’t stress this enough. What is the point of making the cards if they are going to sit on your desk? USE THEM! Carry them around in your purse/backpack. Pull them out while you’re eating lunch, while you’re waiting at the bus stop, while you’re standing in line, while you’re waiting for your class to begin, etc. Use them, or there’s no point in them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and that they really help you during the studying process. I’ve used so many flash cards in the past, and am finally learning how to actually put them to great use. I am so happy to share what I’ve learned with you all, and I hope that you get something out of it!

I know that studying can sometimes be overwhelming, so I also wanted to remind you that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. You made it this far, keep going. You GOT this!

Thanks for reading,


How did you like this post? Do you have any other tips in mind to making your flashcards effective? Let me know in the comments below!

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