Study Tips from Lina, Part 3: Cue Cards

by on Apr 13th, 2020

Cue cards are an asset


One of the reasons cue cards work so well is because repetition has been proven to engrain information into your brain better than most other methods. The act of making them from your class notes and textbook incorporates repetition through writing and therefore, enhances the effectiveness of the cue cards.


Another reason why cue cards are so effective is due to the proximity in which the information is seen together. When you see two things in close proximity your brain learns to associate them together. So even if at the end of the study session you don’t know a few of your cards, on the exam you will have recognition on your side! Your brain will be more likely to recognize the answer just from the sheer quantity of times you’ve seen the ideas together. Depending on the amount of cue cards you have this can be time consuming, but it works.


  1. Make cue cards for everything, don’t just use them for definitions, ask yourself questions, incorporate fill in the blank sentences for yourself, get creative.
    1. The more connected you are with the information the more likely you are to remember it, and they can be used to cover almost any area of study!


When you’re going through your cue cards try doing the following:


Go through your cue cards once:


  1. If you know the cue card put it at the back of the stack you are holding and move on the next one until you come back to the first card.


*Tip: mark the first cue card with a sticky note or page marker so you don’t have to try and remember where you started!


  1. If you don’t know the cue card follow these 4 steps:


  1. Look at the word/questions/phrase and read it out loud while looking at it, then flip the card over and read the answer you’ve written out loud (you can whisper but needs to be out loud).

Do this three times


  1. Look at the word/question/phrase and read it to yourself in your head, flip it over and do the same with the answer.

Do this three times


  1. Look at the word/question/phrase read it in your head and answer it without looking at the answer you’ve written.

Do this three times


  1. Now place the cue card at the back of the stack on its side (the long way up) so that it is sticking out of the stack so when you come back to it, this is to indicate that it was one of the cards you got wrong.


Now that you’ve gone through one round of the cue cards. repeat this process until you get all (or most) of the cards correct. The more times you go through the stack the faster you’ll be able to move through them


Below are explanations as to why each of the steps above are so effective:


Step 1:

This helps your brain associate the two things together when they are said out loud. This helps with memory recall in class, when using different methods of studying, etc.


Step 2:

This will help you associate the two things together when you can’t say it out loud much like the setting of an exam. As a student we all feel the pressure of the exam, but by doing this step when you are reading key words/phrases/questions it helps with memory recall and makes you more confident in your answers.


Step 3:

This helps build your memory recall when you can see the answer – this will help with short answer questions. It also helps with multiple choice questions. It will help you answer the question before you’ve even seen the answers which will lessen the second guessing that we all do on exams when we’re not 100% sure of our answers.


Step 4:

Doing this helps you see your progress as you move through the cards. It also enables you to focus on the material you don’t know if you are in a rush or doing some last-minute studying in your seat before the exam is handed out.



*Tip: Most shoe boxes work great for carrying cue cards – just make little dividers out of cardboard to separate your classes and then you’ll be able to have them organized and in the same place!

  • Organizing them by chapter by writing the chapter number in the bottom left/right corner of the cards and using a sticky note to separate each chapter in the classes set can also be helpful if you only need specific chapters for a certain exam or need more study time on some chapters over others.