How to Setup a Flashcard Deck to Study Any Subject

The first step to setting up a deck of flashcards to study is extracting the information you want to learn from reading material and lecture notes.

Typically, the information you want to target falls in three categories: Vocabulary, Key Facts and Formulas/Processes.  Different subjects will weigh more heavily towards each of these categories.  History and Social Sciences will lean more towards Key Facts, mathematics will lean more towards Formulas/Processes and applied sciences will be a mix of Formulas/Processes and Vocabulary.

For vocabulary, a good strategy is to create cards that have both the term as the question and answer with the definition serving as the opposite side of the card.  This helps you learn the term more thoroughly and makes sure that you are ready to respond no matter how it is presented to you on a quiz or test.

For Key Facts, try to express the fact like a question you would see on Jeopardy.  For example, “This president signed the Emancipation proclamation.” or “This country occupies the largest land mass.”  This will help you recall the specific information you are working to memorize.

For Formulas/Processes call out the formula specifically and break processes down into component pieces.  Examples: “Q: What is the Pythagorean theorem?  A: a2+b2=c2” or “Q: What is the first phase of Mitosis?  A: Prophase”.

Once you’ve assembled your deck of flashcards review them in random order three times per day.  Once through for each review makes sure you are getting the repetition you need to commit the material to memory without burning yourself out.

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