Study Tips

How to Study More Effectively with Digital Flashcards

January 22, 2021

Are you making the most of your flashcard study sessions?

Picture this: two people are struggling to retain some math formulas that they’ll be tested on in a few months.

They have two different approaches to using flashcards:

Person A repeats the deck of flashcards over and over until they get every question right and then stops.
Person B studies the cards with a “timer” that reminds them when to study over the next few weeks.

On the day of the test, which person do you think would do better?

The “spacing effect” would tell us that Person B has got the upper hand here, because they spaced out their revision sessions.

Study better with spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is a powerful method of retaining information. Our brains have been shown to remember information better when we space out our revision, instead of cramming it in all at once. In this way, each time you revise, you’ve taken a break from the material (thus forgetting some of it) and need to actively recall it back again.

The forgetting curve (the rate at which you forget information) flattens the more you review material over time.

(Learn more in our article on scientific study tips.)

Applying spaced repetition to digital flashcards

Going through your flashcards at random means you might not see the more difficult questions when you need to, and the easy ones more often than useful.

The benefit of using digital flashcards is that they can often automatically apply spaced repetition in a more intelligent way for you.

For example, when you create flashcards in GoodNotes, individual cards are ordered based on how difficult you find them, and the order is adjusted as you learn.

Simply put, more difficult flashcards are shown more often. As you get better at answering them, GoodNotes will space them out more, so that there is a greater interval before you answer them again — allowing you to forget just enough so that the next time you see the card, you use a little more brainpower to remember the correct answer.

In this way, it sorts your flashcards in the most optimal order for memory retention.

At the end of each study session, GoodNotes will suggest a new date in the near future to review your flashcards again, to prompt you to take a break and revisit these cards with fresh eyes.

Unlock free-form note-taking on digital flashcards

Digital flashcards have the upper hand on paper flashcards because they can integrate these spaced repetition algorithms.

However, one distinct advantage of paper is that you can draw and handwrite on your cards.

If you’re studying a STEM subject (or perhaps a new language that’s hard to type), it’s far easier to write out study material like graphs, formulas, or equations.

GoodNotes is first and foremost a digital note-taking app for the iPad. Students use GoodNotes with the Apple Pencil to take handwritten study notes, import and annotate lecture slides, and test themselves using the built-in flashcards feature — because it allows you to combine the freedom of handwriting along with spaced-repetition technology.

5 benefits of studying with GoodNotes’ digital flashcards

In addition to applying a spaced repetition algorithm to your flashcards, here are other advantages of using Study Sets (aka. digital flashcards) in GoodNotes.

1. Draw on your digital flashcards without being limited by typed text

When you create flashcards with GoodNotes, you unlock the ability to handwrite questions. Create exactly the question you need, without being constrained by what you can or cannot type.

For example, you can create flashcards with:

  • Graphs, including curves, straight lines, and parabolas
  • Equations and formulas
  • Diagrams and images

2. Easily insert images or diagrams

In addition to drawing your own diagrams, you can easily insert images and annotate them. This is particularly handy if you have existing graphs or diagrams in your notes that you want to test yourself on. You can simply copy and paste them onto the flashcards to create them.

Otherwise, you can easily drag and drop the perfect image from Google as well.

3. Keep your flashcards together with all the rest of your study notes

With GoodNotes, you don’t have to switch apps in order to revise. You can take all your study notes and test yourself in the same app.

You can also easily organize all your relevant notes together. For example, you might have one notebook for organic chemistry, where you keep all your lecture slides and study notes. You can also keep your flashcards in the same notebook, instead of creating them in another app.

4. Collaborate on flashcard decks

You can easily share your flashcards deck with your classmates by sending them link to your notebook. That way, when you’re revising for exams, everyone can contribute new questions and you can build a more comprehensive set of study material together.

(Explore more ways to study together remotely with GoodNotes!)

5. Access your digital flashcards from your iPad, phone or computer.

It’s your choice: study your flashcards on whichever device you want.

If you have iCloud sync switched on, your flashcards (along with all your other notes) will be synced to all your devices, making it easy to study wherever you are.

Tip: GoodNotes is a one-time purchase! So if you buy GoodNotes on the iPad, the Mac app and iPhone app will be free to download.

(Read here for more on how GoodNotes’ sync keeps your notes safe!)

Create digital flashcards you can draw on

GoodNotes makes studying with flashcards scientific, systematic, and effective. Join the millions of students worldwide who have chosen GoodNotes as their main study app.

Try GoodNotes today and start studying more effectively.

Remember anything with GoodNotes Study Sets

Check out Study Sets here!

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