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Notecards: Why they still work
Sep 9, 2020

Notecards: Why they still work

By Scott Lutostanski

As the years go on, education continues to change more and more. Technology infiltrates classrooms and most schools will give every student their own chromebook. The curriculum becomes more and more personalized, catering to the needs of each individual student as teachers and districts try their absolute hardest to make school as customizable as possible. Despite all this, one thing hasn’t changed: college. College continues to be lectures, note taking, textbook reading, papers, and exams. Despite the obvious changes to the lower grades, college has, for the most part, remained the same.

It takes time, effort, and strategies to learn the information needed in a given class. As the title of this blog states, notecards continue to be a study strategy that stands the test of time. There are a few key components of notecards that have kept them as a relevant, effective study method.

Quizzing- Retrieval of information is the most important study component. When we force ourselves to answer questions, we are literally asking ourselves, “Is this information in my mind? And can I access it to answer this question?” The more we quiz ourselves, the more we fortify and process information.

Prioritize Information- What do we do when we’re quizzing ourselves with notecards? We’re putting them into right and wrong piles. This is an organic way of prioritizing the information that we still need to learn. Inefficient use of time is one of the biggest study mistakes that a student can make.

Examples- Tired of writing the definition on the back of a card? Good. You should be. It’s not as effective as an example of the concept. Or better yet, do both. If the term is cognitive dissonance, having inconsistent thoughts and actions, then use your friend who’s mad at himself that he continues to smoke as your example. You will never forget the term if you pair it with an example that makes a connection. 


Draw a Picture- Same as above. Except add a picture instead of an example and let the learning commence.

Although very old school, notecards can provide students with the basics needed for learning information and doing well in their classes. It is a simple, straightforward technique that can help students learn easier and quicker. If you have a high school or college student who needs help improving their study skills, email info@statestreeteducation.com to learn more about our 5-hour study program or our Academic Coaching program.