Flashcards have many benefits. First, they can be shuffled,
which not only rids you of the false context of order but also allows
you to create piles of words that are related in some way.
Learning words in groups tends to increase your chances of remembering
them. Some suggestions for grouping: positive words, negative words,
words relating to bodies, words of criticism, words of praise, words
about abstract ideas, and so forth. Deciding what groups to use
is less important than coming up with the groups, reshuffling your
piles accordingly, and constantly shifting among the groupings.
Second, the very act of creating flashcards will help
you remember words. When you write, you use a different part of
your brain than when you read. So, if you both read and write, you
have a better shot at memorizing. Furthermore, you can add other
meanings to a card. Say you’ve discovered a second or even third
meaning for a particular word, such as list. You
knew it meant “a written series of items,” but you now discover that
it can also mean “a deviation from the vertical” or “a tilt.”
Third, you can always add to your stock of cards.
It might take a while to get all 92 of these words down on cards,
but adding, say, twenty a week until test day can be quite manageable.
Likewise, these cards will last a long time.
What should your flashcards look like? Here’s a model:
In general, you don’t want any other information on the
front; be sure not to include anything that might tip you off to
the word’s meaning.
The back is where you want the part of speech, a good
definition, and a sample sentence. If you force yourself to use
the word correctly in a sentence, or even if you copy down a brief,
correct use of the word from elsewhere, you will be reinforcing
memorization. Always start writing at the top; you may want to add
to this card later.
Also, if you want to list groupings, do so on the back.
For example, you could label this card “words of presence/absence.”
Another useful addition is other forms of the word—what we refer
to as the “word group” in the list above. Of course, if the form
is different enough in meaning, you should create a separate card
for that form. Self and selfishness should
not be on the same card; ubiquity and ubiquitous certainly can
be, as you can see on the card above.
7 index cards.
They’re still very portable but leave enough space for additions.