Question and answer cards, a simple and effective revision tool!

Question and answer cards are widely used in English-speaking countries, especially in the United States and England, where they’re called Flashcards. 

What are these?

These are small horizontal cards on which we can write a specific theme, a word, the name of a theorem, a formula, etc. on the front and the answer on the back. It’s that simple.

How do they work?

  1. I write: you write a question on the front of the card and the answer on the back. 
  2. I test myself: you ask yourself questions card by card.

A few tips:

- use your cards in both directions: read the question and try to find the answer and then reverse the process, reading the answer and then trying to work out the question. 

- avoid looking at the answer immediately if you aren’t sure, because the effort you make to try to find the answer will help you to anchor it even more deeply in your memory. 

Effectively revise your flashcards with the spaced out repetition method

Studies have shown that the brain forgets certain things faster than others and, more specifically, it forgets uncommon things and memorises common ones. Regularly reviewing information reinforces the connections among neurons and makes a memory come back more easily. 

When we understand all this, we’ll know what we have to do to pass our exams: regularly revise and repeat to memorise things once and for all. 

To do so, we’re often advised to use the Leitner method, developed by the scientific journalist Sebastian Leitner in the 1970s. It’s a very effective method of revision based on the principle of spaced out repetitions, consisting of spacing out our revision periods and working in sessions, allowing time to go by between the sessions to memorise better. In other words, the aim is to revise what you don’t understand very well more often and to put what you already understand to one side. 

What to remember about this method: 

  • It’s simple to set up and very effective.
  • You memorise things once and for all.
  • You save a lot of time because you focus your efforts on the cards you haven’t learnt yet.
  • You can learn a great deal of information.
  • You learn without useless and tiresome cramming.
  • You can revise alone or with your friends.

More specifically, with the Leitner method...

1- You create your FLASH 2.0 question and answer cards (for example, a question on the front and the answer on the back). 

2- Once you’ve created your cards, prepare 5 boxes (which can contain your cards), numbering them from 1 to 5. Each box number corresponds to a different revision frequency. For example, box 1 will be revised every day, box 2 every 2 days, box 3 every 3 days and so on. It’s up to you to choose the time intervals you prefer. It’s best to space them out more and more.

3 - First revision session: put all your cards in box 1. Take a card and try to answer it. If the answer’s right, the card goes into box 2. If the answer’s wrong, the card remains in box 1, under the stack.

4- For the following revision sessions,, the same principle. If the answer’s right, the card goes into the higher box. If the answer’s wrong, the card goes back to box 1.