How to learn with flashcards: Tips for students

Written by Christina Pichler, Jun 09, 2022

Do you want to use flashcards for your next exam preparation? Great because this technique is ideal for memorising and preparing for an exam. In this article we answer the question: “How do I correctly study with flashcards?”. We have an overview and a few tips for you, so that you can study effectively and quickly.

Types & Features

Not all flashcards are the same. There are endless forms and types, including the perfect flashcard for you. You can customise them, so that they ideally support your study material.

  • Size: A5, A6, A7, etc.
  • Colour: white, yellow, pink, blue, green, etc.
  • Print: smooth, ruled, squared, etc.

Of course, you can also make the flashcards by yourself. Grab some paper or carton that you have at home and then cut it into the perfect shape. It’s not only cheap, but also individual.

Advantages & Application areas

Sometimes flashcards are labelled old-fashioned or boring; however, that’s not the case. On the contrary: Flashcards have many advantages!

  • Double learning effect: It’s easier to memorise your study material because you first have to write down everything and then repeat and study the information.
  • Long-time memory: Studying with flashcards is conducive to storing information in the long-term memory because of the countless repetitions.
  • Practicability: Flashcards are very practical because you don’t need much and can study them everywhere and anytime.
  • Easy and effective: This study technique is simple because you only need cards and a pen and yet it is incredibly effective.
  • Mock exam: Especially the Q&A mode is an amazing mock exam that prepares you well for the stressful situation. This way your brain can access the stored information during the real exam more quickly.
  • Concentration & focus: Since you have to sort through and summarise your study material, you reduce the material and focus on the essential part.
  • Individual design: You have endless possibilities when it comes to creating the flashcards. You can adapt the flashcards to your study material.

No matter what and which field you have to study, this study technique works for you too. For example, flashcards are perfect for studying vocabulary in foreign languages, historical events and equations from physics, mathematics and chemistry.

One reason for the universal applicability of flashcards are all the different formats. Whether it’s vocabulary + translation, Question-Answer-Cards (e.g. multiple choice, open questions) or diagrams, equations and illustrations.

The 5 best tips

  1. Aesthetically pleasing: The better your flashcards look, the better your brain can memorise the information. Use all the different possibilities available: highlighting, underlining, enumerating, pictures, illustrations and specific examples!
  2. Topics: We recommend dividing your study material and flashcards in subject areas. How big and extensive these areas are, depends on your preferences. When it comes to vocabulary, you can, for example, create word fields (e.g. all the vocabulary around family as one subject).

STUWO tip: Most lecture notes and study material are taught in separate subject areas. Use this structure as orientation.

  1. Less is more: You should not overload your flashcards to the point of not being able to decipher and process all the information. Core facts, dates and key words are essential. Most of the time full sentences are rather counterproductive.
  2. Test yourself: It’s great to repeat the flashcards regularly. It’s even better if you let your friends or (STUWO) flatmates test your knowledge. Here are more tips for effective studying!
  3. Both directions: It’s beneficial to your brain and memory to work in both directions. Ask yourself the question and look for the answer. Then read the answer and think about what the question is or how this answer relates to the study material and to which bigger subject area it belongs. This challenges your brain and ensures that you comprehend the study material and can make connections.

Additional assistance

Apart from our 5 top tips, there are a few other aspects to keep in mind. It’s important that you create clear and structured flashcards.

Furthermore, a card box can be helpful because you can organise your flashcards according to subject areas or study progress. For example, you can create three categories:

  • „don’t know at all“
  • „know a little bit“
  • „know all“

You can either buy or make (e.g. shoe box) a card box. Make sure that you have enough dividers.

The Leitner-algorithm is useful to make sure that you master all your flashcards. You need five groups.

  • Put all your flashcards in group 1 and if you can answer a flashcard, put it in group 2.
  • Repeat until all the flashcards are in group 2.
  • Then revise all the flashcards in group 2. If you answer correctly, the flashcard goes to group 3. If you don’t know the answer, the flashcard goes back into group 1.
  • Repeat this process until all the flashcards are in group 5.

It’s important to take study breaks in-between!

If you think that flashcards are out, then try one of the many apps that give flashcards a modern twist. Some helpful, free apps are StudySmarter, Quizlet and Repetico. All three apps allow visual effect (e.g. colour of the font, bold, highlighting) and adding pictures. Furthermore, you can see your learn progress and repeat wrong questions until you know the answer.

We have more tips for quickly and effectively memorising information in our article „Learning by heart“.


How many flashcards can I study in a day?

This entirely depends on what you are studying with flashcards. In general, the more complex the information, the fewer flashcards you should study at once. Furthermore, you should start with a small stack and then add new flashcards every day. For example, you start with 20 flashcards that you repeat every day. Then you can add around five cards every day.

How do I make flashcards?

Either you buy flashcards in a stationary shop or you use paper or carton that you have at home and cut it. Format and colour are up to you. Use visual effects to provide a memory support for your brain: highlighting, underlining, etc.

How often do I have to repeat my flashcards?

An estimation is six repetitions; however, the study intervals are more important than the number of repetitions. Repeat your flashcards 20 minutes after first reading them, then after 24 and 48 hours and lastly after 10, 30 and 60 days. Then the information is successfully stored in your long-term memory.

Flashcards are practical, easy and effective. So ideal for the next exam preparation. These tips will help you memorise everything quickly. Are you still looking for the right music for studying? Do you want to combine flashcards and the pomodoro technique? Then our blog will be a valuable resource for you.


We are happy to help!