Flash cards, a simple and effective way to revise

How can flash cards help?

Simply write a question that you want to test yourself with on the front of the flash card, and then the answer on the back. Use the range of rulings to suit your subject. Learn and revise vocabulary, definitions, dates, mathematical formulas, scientific diagrams…anything!


How does it work?

  1. Write your question on the front of the card and your answer on the back
  2. Test yourself by going through each card in a module or subject



  • Use your cards both ways: read the question then try to find the answer, or read the answer and try to work out the question
  • Avoid the temptation to look at the answer if you can’t think of it straight away. The effort you put in to thinking of the answer will help you remember it.


Shop the range of Oxford flash cards here


Revise effectively with the spaced repetition method

Studies have shown that the brain forgets some things faster than others, and more specifically it forgets what is rare and memorises what is common. Regularly reviewing information strengthens the connections between neurons and makes the memory come back more easily.

For this, it is often recommended to use the Leitner method, developed by the scientific journalist Sebastian Leitner in the 1970s. It is a very effective revision method based on the principle of spaced repetitions, which consists of spacing the moments of revision, and working in sessions, allowing time to elapse between sessions to aid memorisation. In other words, the idea is to revise more often what we don't know well, and to leave aside what we already know.


The Leitner method

  1. Write your flash cards e.g. question on the front of the card and answer on the back
  2. Prepare five boxes (which can contain your cards) which you number from 1 to 5. Each box number corresponds to a revision frequency. For example, box 1 will be checked every day, box 2 every two days, box 3 every three days and so on. It's up to you to choose the time intervals you prefer. The ideal is to increase the number of days as you move through the boxes.
  3. Start your revision by putting all your flash cards in box 1. Take a card and try to answer it. If you get the answer right the card goes into box 2. If you get the answer wrong the card stays in box 1, under the pile already in there.
  4. In your next revision session use the same principle. If you get the answer right, put the card into the next box in the sequence. If you get the answer wrong the card goes back to box 1 to be revised more frequently.


What to remember using this method

  • It is simple to set up and very effective
  • It enables you to retain information long-term
  • You save time by concentrating on the cards you haven’t yet mastered
  • You learn without putting yourself under the stress of cramming
  • You can review individually or with friends


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