Do you find yourself reading and re-reading your textbooks and notes but feel you still can’t remember the information? When it comes to studying the quality or technique you use can be more beneficial than the quantity of time you spend. One technique that many students find helpful is creating notecards, also known as concept cards, or summary cards.

Notecards can be very helpful for people who are kinesthetic learners because you can carry them on-the-go, pull them out before class or at the gym, and the creation of the notecards themselves can be helpful in learning and memorizing the information.

Here are some helpful notecard tips:

  1. Make notecards from your readings and your lecture notes. Don’t get in the habit of re-reading and re-reading information. Notecards help you “do something” with the information!
  2. Decide what to put on your notecards. What is the most important information from the reading? What did the instructor emphasize in lecture? Consider notecards for the following:
    • Vocabulary or terms
    • Important formulas
    • Dates/timelines you need to memorize
    • Processes (ex. photosynthesis, how to factor an equation, cell division)
    • Ideas your professor emphasizes
    • Bold headings in textbooks/readings
  3. Making the cards. Print one concept on the front of the card. It may be helpful to add the chapter or the lecture the concept was discussed for reference. Here is an example:Picture of a notecard that says: what is demographics? Week 8, Wednesday, Chapter 6
  4. Do something with  your cards! Don’t just read them once.
    • First, find the answer to the question/meaning of the concept.
    • Second, say out loud, in your own words the answer to the question/meaning of the concept.
    • Third, write the answer on the back of the card. Try using drawings or pictures (these can serve as memory aids). Here’s an example:Picture of a notecard that says of population statistics  and their change through time. The card as a drawing of a graph of average life span.
  5. Quiz yourself! Turn the cards over and quiz yourself. Be sure to say the answer out loud. Check to see if you answered the question correctly. Once you’ve mastered the card, be sure to periodically check back to make sure you still understand the concepts. Try studying cards throughout the term, rather than waiting until the end.

Other helpful tips: Color coding your cards by chapter, concept, or theme can help you recall the information. Using pictures, drawings, phrases, or rhymes can also be memory aids. Take your notecards with you everywhere. You can study them while you are waiting in line, in the car, while you are waiting for an appointment, or before class.