Flash cards are 100% old school. They can also 100% work. Here’s how.
When to use them
Flash cards are best used when you have to memorize something. In my how to write good exam answers blog post, I discuss three different types of exam questions: the recall, the argument, and the application. Flash cards work best for exams that have recall questions: these are the right/wrong objective evaluation type questions.
Why to use them
Flash cards can help you in two ways. First, the very act of making the flash cards is a review in an of itself–assuming you are writing out the flash cards by hand. When you physically write out information, you are engaging both your visual and kinesthetic learning areas. Second, reviewing the flash cards, especially if you can answer yourself aloud, also engages two learning centers: your visual and your auditory. In short, flash cards can help you get the information into your brain twice.
How to use them
The most effective way to use flash cards is by drilling. Flipping through them over and over until you know the answer to each prompt. In order to speed up the memorization process, I would recommend filtering out the ones you get right as you go through them so that the ones you are not as clear on get extra face-time. This will cut down on the total amount of time you spend studying. However, it’s always good to end with a final go through of ALL the cards.