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How to Memorize Using Note Cards

Note cards are the quintessential devices used in studying to memorize facts and figures. They are perfect because they allow students to study alone, without distractions. They are quick and convenient, easy, and accessible in almost any and every venue. Note cards (or flash cards), give students the ability to test themselves without friends, family, or other teachers "getting in the way."

Follow our guide to learn how to memorize using note cards.

  1. Purchase index cards (or thick typing paper). Do not use thin college-ruled paper, as you will be able to see through the paper.
  2. Cut the paper into squares or rectangles. Make sure they are all the exact same size. (If you purchased index cards, skip this step and go to Step #3).
  3. Pick a pen and write one word or object in all capital letters on one side of the paper/card.
  4. Pick a different pen and write the definition or description of the word or object or idea on the back side of the paper in lower case letters.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until you have created note cards of everything you need to memorize.
  6. Mix the cards so that they have no specific order.
  7. Find a quiet space and test yourself with the note cards. Read the side with the word or object in capital letters and say the definition or answer aloud.
  8. Look on the other side of the card to see if you got the answer correct.
  9. If you answered it correctly, put the note card into one pile. If you answered it incorrectly, put it into a second pile. If you "sort-of" answered part of the question correctly, put it into a third pile.
  10. Repeat Step 9 for all cards you have made.
  11. Pick up the stack of "wrong" answers and go through them until you have answered them all correctly.
  12. Pick up the stack of "maybe" cards and go through them until you have answered them all correctly.
  13. Mix up all three piles of cards again.
  14. Repeat the testing from the beginning.

Take your stack of note cards with you everywhere you go prior to a test. You never know when you will be able to find a five minute spot of free time (waiting on line, sitting on the subway, waiting in traffic) when you can test yourself and memorize information quickly with your flashcards.

Memorizing using note cards is not fool proof. However, it is a highly successful and useful method of memorization. It is imperative to remember to mix up your cards. Some people are used to repetition and learn definitions and concepts on the order they arrive in your stack of note cards. This memorization will do you no good on a test or exam. Therefore, if you are constantly switching the order and time you use your note cards, you will learn the information tested on them much more comprehensively.