What Are Flashcards

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By Chris DelliSanti, RN | NoteKnight Founder

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Flashcards are a learning tool that traditionally have a question or term on one side and the answer or explanation on the other. They are excellent for committing information to memory by challenging your active recall, which is key in transferring information from short-term to long-term memory.

Evidence and Benefits

The concept of flashcards is attributed to the English educator Favell Lee Mortimer, who introduced the idea in her 1834 book "Reading Disentangled," using cards with letters and syllables to teach children to read (Flashcard, n.d.).

Research has supported the methodology of retrieval practice for learning, which has been shown to produce better long-term retention of material (Karpicke & Blunt, 2011). When combined with other study techniques such as spaced repetition or chunking, flashcards can be a powerful tool for learning.

Creating Quality Flashcards

The effectiveness of flashcards can be further enhanced with a few techniques:

  • Focus on key concepts to avoid information overload.
  • Vary content styles to keep study material engaging:
    • Definitions
    • Question and Answer
    • Cloze Deletion (fill-in-the-blank)
    • Mnemonics
  • Add visual appeal such as color or markup (bold, italics, ect.) to make information distinct and help focus attention.


To maximize the effectiveness of your flashcards, it's essential to incorporate structured study methods and take advantage of available technologies.

  • Pomodoro Technique: Shorter study intervals, usually 25 minutes, followed by a break can help with focus, time management, and digesting new information.
  • Leitner System: Rather than cramming, space out learning over periods of time.


Online flashcard applications such as NoteKnight combine the science-backed study methods we've discussed with advanced features that provide a comprehensive and user-friendly learning experience.

  • Customize: Create visually appealing flashcards with rich text formatting and enhance productivity with built in AI assistant.
  • Memorize: Study efficiently with round based study game that includes advanced features such as shuffle/sorting algorithms, text input, and multi language text to speech support.
  • AutoScribe: Transform documents into high quality flashcards in seconds with powerful AI technology.
  • Explanations: Gain deeper insight into subjects with AI explanations and examples.
  • Intuitive Hints: Inspired by Jeopardy, get hints with increasing levels of detail to help you remember.
  • Sharing: Share flashcards with friends or classmates to collaborate and study together.


Flashcards are a fun and effective way to enhance your memory and achieve your learning goals. By applying the best practices outlined in this article, you can transform your study sessions into highly productive experiences. Get started and discover the difference they can make for you!


Flashcard. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 1, 2024, from

Chunking (psychology). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 1, 2024, from

Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science, 331(6018), 772-775.

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Harvard University Press.