# How to make & use flashcards?

Unless you have ready-made flashcard sets simply use 3×5 index cards or make them using a free or modestly-priced flashcard program.

Here is a simple way: “Suppose you have 3 groups called Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3. The cards in Group 1 are the ones that you often make mistakes with, and Group 3 contains the cards that you know very well. You might choose to study the Group 1 cards once a day, Group 2 every 3 days, and the Group 3 cards every 5 days. If you look at a Group 1 card and get the correct answer, you “promote” it to Group 2. A correct answer with a Group 2 card “promotes” that card to Group 3. If you make a mistake with a Group 2 or Group 3 card, it gets “demoted” to the first level, which forces you to study that card more often.

The advantage of this method is that you can focus on the most difficult flashcards, which remain in the first few groups. The result is, ideally, a reduction in the amount of study time needed.”

Another better automated way to mastery:  Use a Pool (cards not yet presented) and 5+ boxes (compartments) with the following max sizes Box 1 -10 cards; Box 2 -20 cards; Box 3 – 50 cards; Box 4- 100 cards;  Box 5 – 250.  When a card is asked and answered correctly it gets promoted to the next higher box at the end of any cards there; if answered incorrectly from any box it gets demoted to Box 1. Mastery of a card set involves at answering correctly without missing of any cards – all cards are in Box 5. Use no more than 30 cards for a each learning sub-objective.  If the material is very difficult – or you have over a 100 cards – or little time use Box Sizes: 5,5,5,10,20,30,60,120,240

An algorithm that spaces repetition of material learned to mastery for long term recall:  Use as “session mastery criterion” answering all cards correctly without missing through one repetition. (All cards in Group 3 – or in Box 2 or one that accommodates the whole set) Use the following study spaced repetition intervals in days: 0 (the same day as class); 1; 2; 3; 4 (ACHIEVE) – now to MAINTAIN for a year – the next time in a school spiral curriculum) continue 7; 12; 20; 30; 60; 90; 150; 270.

To study for an examination without cramming on the last day beforeback off 5 repetition day intervals – so D-5; D-4; D-3: D-2; D-1. STOP – watch a movie, take along walk, try to get lots of sleep.  All repetitions are to “mastery.”

If you must cram the day before: try to start early & do 3-5 repetitions at intervals,  each with about 30 cards spaced throughout the day using Box Sizes: 5,5,5,10,20,30,60,120,240 – then try for sleep!

It is always best for you to create the cards to help your memory – if you have time.  Only you know what you still need to learn. This, however, is difficult for students to do.

That is why we use Q&A Notes to offer online virtual math laboratory support for mastery practice.