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Studying with Palm Cards

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

One of the methods of which our brains are most receptive towards is active recall, as students we can utilise this in the form of palm cards to study for a wide range of subjects.

There are a number of effective ways to utilise palm cards to their best potential, here are a few tips which have drastically improved my use of palm cards and are working great for my personal absorption of information heavy subjects such as history and biology.

Making the cards yourself as opposed to stealing another set of cards or downloading some from the internet. By constructing your own set of palm cards, you inadvertently study the subject by taking in and reforming the ideas and concepts to present upon your cards. This is similar to teaching, which forces you to present the information in your own words, strengthening the neural pathways in your mind. Obviously if you skip making the cards yourself, you likewise skip the potential benefits you reap from making them yourself.

An important aspect when intending to use palm cards to their best effectiveness is making sure you use them in a way which discourages recognition as opposed to genuine recall. As our brains are incredibly good at recognising certain images and information, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know something with the cue in front of you despite not being able to remember it with the cue. This can be combated in a number of ways, for example, keeping only one fact per card forces you to remember the singular fact which ensures you cannot mistakenly recognise instead of recall. Another example is reading and responding to your cards aloud (or using a willing friend to quiz you), this once again forces you to respond with the correct and full answer.

Our brains are particularly sensitive to imagery, as such, humans tend to remember imagery more effectively than text. However, this does not mean we should replace text on our palm cards to imagery. Through combining the two on palm cards our ability to recall the information becomes easier due to the improved attention the image provides. Furthermore by using mnemonic devices, or associations between information in your mind similar to rhymes and acronyms, the easier it will be to recall what you have put on the palm card. You can utilise mnemonic devices on your cards by drawing doodles which can relate (even distantly) to what you are learning. The more ‘out there,’ the better, your brain is great at remembering things which defy the ordinary.

Overall, while making palm cards is a great and effective way to absorb the information you need in school, often there are many more effective methods of learning which you may find yourself more receptive towards in particular subjects. Make sure to explore many methods and not jump to palm cards because they can be a fun form of study. If you find palm cards to be effective in your scenario, use these tips to use them to the best potential.

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