We all know that revision can get a little boring, so it’s important to spice it up a little sometimes. A great way to do this is with flashcards – but what are the creative ways you can use them?
In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the best and most creative ways you can use flashcards to your advantage. Read on if you want to spruce up your revision style through flashcards…
It is also important to remember that there are plenty of other revision techniques that might work better for you, so be sure to check those out as well.
1. Flashcard Snap
A fun and inventive way to use your flashcards is to play snap with them. Not only is it enjoyable for you, but it will also help you to remember knowledge for your exams.
Flashcard snap works just like the original snap game. Two players, each with a set of matching cards, take it in turns to place down their cards, and say snap when they match.
This is a fairly simple game, and works well with the whole concept of flashcards. You can have one player with ‘term’ cards, and one player with ‘definition’ cards.
This way, you both get to revise the topic, and have fun at the same time. Unfortunately, you might have to make a whole new set of flashcards for this game, as most conventional flashcards have the terms and definitions on one side.
Obviously, flashcard snap will only work if you have someone to play it with. Like I’ve said before, make sure you revise with someone who you can work around, not who you’ll mess about with.
Also make sure that you mix up flashcard snap with some of the other unique methods on this list for best results. Flashcard snap is great, but I wouldn’t rely solely on it to carry you through your exams.
2. Flashcard Bingo
Believe it or not, bingo is not just for old people with blotters in a community hall. You can use bingo as an effective and unique way to revise your flashcards with a group of friends.
Flashcard bingo works the same as normal bingo, with a slightly different twist because of the flashcards. To begin with, everybody playing needs to choose a set number of terms (or definitions).
I’d usually go for 9, because then you can play for a bit longer and have just a little more revision time. Then, the ‘caller’ (person who reads out the cards) says whatever the opposite is of what the players have on their cards.
So for example, if the players had chosen definitions to write down, the caller would read out terms. Then, the players can match what’s been said with what they have.
This matching repetition will strengthen links between knowledge for everybody playing. It’s just like normal flashcards, but a bit more fun – and a bit more engaging.
Playing games with flashcards (like bingo) will increase motivation to revise. This will, in turn, increase productivity, revision efficiency, and chances of success in exams.
Just make sure that while you’re playing flashcard bingo, you stay engaged with it. Being around a group of friends can be efficient for revision, but also dangerous if you stray off-task.
3. Match The Flashcard
I’m sure you’ve all played the traditional version of this game when you were younger. Cards are laid out in a random grid order, and they all have a pair – all you have to do is find them and match them up.
This is a great game to play if you want to boost your memory skills, especially with flashcards. Using flashcards for this game is effective, because it’s already all about memory, meaning you’re more likely to retain information.
To set up the game with flashcards, you’ll need two sets of cards. One with terms on, and one with definitions. You could also use images if you wanted to, but that’s just personal preference.
Lay all the flashcards face down, so that you have no idea which ones are where. Then, when you’re trying to find a pair, you’ll need to match the term to the definition.
This is similar to how you would use flashcards normally, but it adds a fun twist to keep things engaging. I used to play match the flashcard with my friends when I was revising for my GCSEs, and it came in clutch during my exams.
This is because you find it easier to remember fun, enjoyable times. If you’re doing something monotonous, like revising alone, you’ll find it harder to recall the things you learnt during that time.
4. Flashcard Charades
Probably one of the most fun methods on this list, in at number 6 is flashcard charades. If you like to get physical with your revision, this may just be the unique method for you.
Flashcard charades is brilliant for groups of friends that are up for a laugh. It involves acting out definitions, for others to try and guess the matching terms.
This is great for those of you who benefit from a ‘hands-on’ learning approach. Getting up and active means your brain is super engaged in what you’re doing, and so you’re more likely to remember the content.
Like most of the other methods on this list, it utilises the fact that having a good time whilst revising increases revision efficiency. Your brain is more focused, motivated, and willing to absorb the knowledge that you need to know.
I find that flashcard charades is easier if you have a smaller group of friends, maybe 3 or 4. This is because it means that you’re less likely to go off-track and start messing about.
Make sure that you mix flashcard charades up with some other unique ways on this list too, as that way you’ll have the best revision efficiency.
5. Flashcard Pictionary
Flashcard pictionary is a nice, relaxing way to study flashcards, whilst still being enjoyable for everyone involved.
All you’ll need to play flashcard pictionary is a pen/pencil, paper, some regular flashcards, and some friends. Once you’ve got this, flashcard pictionary will be easy.
You’ll want to split up into two teams initially. Every round, one person from each team needs to draw a random definition from a flashcard while their team tries to guess what it is.
Everyone guessing is actively going through the knowledge they have in their minds to try and match the term to the definition. This makes flashcard pictionary an invaluable tool when revising.
But don’t be fooled into thinking the drawer doesn’t get any benefit out of this. The person drawing is forced to think of creative ways to represent information, meaning their neural links are strengthened.
It’s also a lot easier to stay focused and motivated whilst playing flashcard pictionary compared to some of these other methods, too. Because of how relaxed it is, there’s less opportunity to mess around and lose revision time.
I’d suggest playing flashcard pictionary with around 4-5 other people or less. This way, you can all get the maximum amount of efficient revision without too much risk of it all going pear-shaped.
6. Use Your Flashcards Online
A great way to use flashcards is virtually (be it online, or through an app). It works just the same as normal flashcards, but there are a lot less paper cuts involved.
Virtual flashcards are great to revise from, and require minimal effort/resources. Sometimes, they can be even more useful than normal flashcards – you can use them on your phone, which you carry around everywhere.
And that means you can access flashcards everywhere, too. As long as you have internet, or are using an app, virtual flashcards can be used wherever and whenever you need.
This makes them especially useful for those of you who like to leave revision until the last minute. Just whip out your phone before an exam to get that last-minute info down.
The best resource for making flashcards virtually that I’ve found is Quizlet. I used to use Quizlet all the time when I was preparing for my GCSEs, and it works surprisingly well.
The best thing about it is that there’s both an app and a website for Quizlet. If you don’t have the time to download an app, you can just go to the website instead.
7. Use Other People’s Flashcards
Using other people’s flashcards can be super useful to your own revision, provided you do it right.
Using other people’s flashcards is essentially the same as using your own, except you don’t have any idea what will come up. This is useful for eliminating the mistake that many students commonly make – mistaking recognition for actual knowledge.
The easiest mistake to make when using flashcards is to start learning patterns and repetition instead of the actual content. Your brain starts to see recognition between facts rather than learn what you actually need.
Using other people’s flashcards eliminates the chances of making that mistake. You won’t be at all familiar with the format of the flashcards, and so there’s zero chance of you messing up.
A great place where you can find loads of flashcards made by other students is Quizlet. There are virtual flashcards for basically every subject you could think of, and some ingenious ways to learn them too.
However, you need to be careful when using other people’s flashcards. If you’re not, then you might find that the information you’re revising from is completely wrong – which means you’ll be worse off in your exam.
8. Use Flashcards Silently, Alone
Sometimes, all you need is to study your flashcards on your own. A bit of peace and quiet never hurt anybody, and can sometimes even boost your revision efficiency.
And I know… this method to use flashcards is most certainly not the most creative method on this list.
Studying in silence, alone, will reduce the amount of distractions surrounding your work environment. Less distractions means that you can be more focused and ready to revise.
The reason removing distractions works so well is because then you can revise your flashcards for longer, and more efficiently, too. You’ve got nothing in your way that could possibly hinder your revision.
Studying in silence will also emulate exam conditions. Revising your flashcards in ‘exam conditions’ means that when you’re actually in an exam, the information will come to you easier.
Probably the most important thing to remove from your working environment is your phone. The worst thing that could happen when you’re revising is for you to pick up your phone, and then put it back down again an hour later.
If you think about it logically, at the end of the road, it’ll just be you in that exam. No music playing, no friends to rely on – just you and your knowledge.
Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to make yourself as comfortable as possible in an exam environment. Doing any revision silently and alone will prepare you for those tricky exams.
9. The Pomodoro Technique
I know what you’re thinking – what on earth is this guy on about? Read on through this subheading, and you’ll discover that the ‘pomodoro’ technique is more than just a fancy Nando’s menu item.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method of working proven to increase productivity and retention of information. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the science behind it provided by Facile Things.
The main concept is to break down your work into intervals, with short breaks in-between. The idea is that it will helps you stop procrastinating, and also make it easier to stay focused while working.
I’d suggest working for 25 minutes at a time, and taking 5-10 minute breaks. That’s probably the most effective way I’ve found to use the technique, but feel free to adapt it to suit you.
All you’ll want to do is work on making/using flashcards for about 25 minutes, and then take a break. You’ll find that it’s easier to do, and you’ll end up with better knowledge retention than you would if you didn’t use the Pomodoro Technique.
You can pair the Pomodoro Technique with pretty much any of the methods on this list. Just follow the time stamps and apply the creative way to revise flashcards, and you’re on the way to exam success.
10. Shuffle Technique
It may sound like a magic trick or a dance move, but it’s actually a very effective and creative way to use flashcards. It’s not even that hard to do, either.
The shuffle technique basically means that once you get through a set of flashcards, you shuffle them and do them again.
This eliminates that risk of only recognising patterns or formats in flashcards, as opposed to learning the actual content. Shuffling your flashcards is a great way to increase the efficiency of your revision.
All you’ll need for this technique is a normal set of flashcards, too. No friends, no extra paper, no pens/pencils, no preparation needed for this unique, simple way to use flashcards.
You can apply this technique to any of the other methods on this list, just like the Pomodoro Technique. When you combine the shuffle technique with other unique ways to use flashcards, you make your revision time a lot more effective.
A great way to use the shuffle technique is to go through a set of flashcards twice, and then shuffle them. That way you can stay closer to the Pomodoro Technique, whilst still staying away from recognition revision.
I always used to shuffle my flashcards every time I used them. I think that saved me from a lot of mistakes in my revision, and lead to overall better results in my exam.
11. Implement A Reward System For When You Get A Flashcard Right
A good thing to do when using flashcards is to reward yourself for every flashcard (or every few flashcards) you get right. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe just a gummy bear or a pat on the back.
Doing this will increase your motivation and willingness to revise. Having a short-term goal gives you incentive to complete a task, which, in this case, is revision.
This is because your brain naturally utilises the limbic system when you try to motivate yourself. The limbic system looks forward to short-term goals, and can often tend to ignore long-term goals (like good exam results).
The prefrontal cortex usually handles long-term goals, but is often ignored when revising. Students tend to try and focus as much as they can when revising, and this leads to a higher focus on short-term goals.
That’s why rewarding yourself whenever you get a flashcard right can be so effective. Utilising that short-term goal tendency means that your revision will be more efficient and effective.
You also don’t have to reward yourself every flashcard either. That’s a lot of gummy bears, and can end up being quite expensive too.
I’d recommend giving yourself a reward for every flashcard set you do. Combine that with the shuffle technique, and you can reward yourself and shuffle the flashcards at the same time.
12. Create A Flashcard Schedule
Putting flashcards into your daily routine is a unique and fun way to revise. Whatever’s on the flashcards is slowly burned into your subconscious, and is ready to bring up when you need it in your exam.
Bear in mind, if you don’t make your schedule creative – this method won’t be creative…
If you don’t know what I mean by ‘putting flashcards into your daily routine’, it’s pretty simple. I’m talking about sticking them up on the fridge, on your wall, on the toilet lid – anything you regularly look at.
Okay, maybe not the toilet lid, but you get my point. The more you look at your flashcards, the more likely you are to remember them for your exam.
Make sure you put flashcards where you’ll regularly see them. If you don’t do that, then some might end up being left out or forgotten – leading to gaps in your knowledge, and loss of marks in exams.
A good thing to do is to make sure that your flashcards are the first thing you see when you wake up, and the last thing you see before you go to sleep.
That way your brain is always subconsciously processing your flashcards, even when you’re asleep. Your brain will find it easier to remember the content on your flashcards because of how often you see them, and how familiar you’ll get with them.
I always used to post flashcards around my house to ensure I could remember them when I was studying for my GCSEs. It worked well then, and that’s why I’m still doing it for my A-Levels.
A quick tip I can give you is to do this with quotes you need for exams. Any quotes by any character you need to know, turn them into flashcards and slot them into your daily routine.
13. ‘No Mistakes’ Flashcard Revision Technique
This could possibly be the most gruelling way to revise flashcards on this list. It’s hard work, and may make you cry, but it is super effective for your revision. This may not be the most creative method, however, it really is effective.
This unique way to use flashcards makes you go through a set of flashcards normally, but if you get one wrong, you start again. It can be very difficult if your memory is not great, but it will ensure you know all of your flashcards.
The more you utilise this unique and creative way to revise flashcards, the easier it will get. As you spend longer on your flashcards, you’ll start to remember them better – and you’ll stop making so many mistakes.
This will carry through to your final exams. When you stop making mistakes in your revision, you’ll stop making mistakes in your exams.
Many actors use this technique when revising scripts. They go through the script as far as they can until they make a mistake, and then go through it again.
If you really fancy a challenge, you can combine the shuffle technique with this method. Every time you mess up, you start again – but shuffle the cards.
That will eliminate the chance of you revising the pattern of the flashcards, and instead ensure that you learn the content. It also makes it that little bit more infuriating when you get it wrong, but the payoff is definitely worth it.
14. Spell Your Flashcard Terms
This creative way to use flashcards is used by many students around the world, and not just those in school or college either. It can be utilised all the way up through education, as it’s a really simple technique.
What you should do is read the definition side of your flashcard, and then spell out the term to answer. It might sound weird, but there’s a logical explanation for it.
Spelling out your answers means that you take longer thinking about them, and so you’re more likely to remember them. I’ve already said it, but the longer you spend revising, the better off you’ll be in your exams.
Spelling out your terms will ensure that you don’t mix up your answers, too. The last thing you want in your exam is to start mixing up terms and definitions, because that can make your grades look a little… pear shaped.
This unique way to use flashcards can be paired with other techniques, too. The Pomodoro Technique is especially useful with this method, as it can maximize your revision efficiency.
It may sound like an easy thing to do, (and it might well be) but spelling out your answers can really improve the neural links you make between terms and definitions.
Unlike other techniques, this unique way to use flashcards helps you focus on individual flashcards at a time. If that one flashcard keeps coming up that you don’t know, then spelling out the answer will help.
15. Use Your Flashcards With Your Friends
An easy, unique way to use flashcards effectively is with your friends. Having a revision session with friends can encourage motivation and make it more memorable, too – if you do it right.
The best way to do it is to have one person reading out questions, and the others giving answers. That way, everybody gets a chance to revise the answer and learn more about the topic.
You could also make it a competition – whoever gets the answer first, wins. This is good for trying to remember the knowledge and also keeping everyone motivated and engaged in revision.
It’s important to keep everyone engaged in the revision, or you could find that your revision session turns into a social gathering. This is not what you want, because then you start to waste precious revision time.
That’s why I’d suggest revising with people you know will encourage your learning, as opposed to distracting you from it. Make sure you’re with friends that you know you can work well with, and stay away from those that you’re tempted to mess around with.
That way, you’ll be able to stay focused when using your flashcards – meaning better efficiency and better exam results.