Better Than Note Cards: How to Create More Effective Study Materials

September 22, 2013 in Nursing TIps

Students Looking at Study Materials

Note cards have–and always will be–the staple of any student’s study efforts. It is a tried and true method for helping with memorization and organizing subject matter that will likely appear on upcoming tests and exams. Those enrolled in traditional and online nursing schools know that by the time they graduate, they’ll have boxes full of note cards with all sorts of information on them.

But note cards aren’t the only types of study materials nursing students should be using. Although each person has his/her own method of studying, it goes without saying that creating and including other types of study material can go a long way in terms of firmly grasping the information.


You don’t have to be an art student to know how to draw diagrams. Even though textbooks have their fair share of diagrams that can be copied for notes, students with a bit more creativity can easily take any concept or subject they’ve been taught and transform it into an illustrative diagram (flowcharts are especially helpful).

Doing this breaks down the topic in a more visualized way and many people excel at memorizing material in this form. Sometimes it takes more than re-reading the same handwritten/typed notes to get the gist of what is being explained.

Flash Cards

There are flash cards nursing students can buy but where is the fun in that? Personalizing study materials makes the process of studying more fun and engaging for students because they know the materials they’ve created are unique to their learning style/preference and is organized in a way that they are able to understand.

Again, perfectly drawn illustrations are not necessary. Flash cards especially come in handy when studying various diseases, symptoms and treatments. Using note cards, either draw/sketch or print out an image that represents a disease (it should be an image that automatically triggers an association with that particular disease) or for the less artistically inclined, they can simply write the name of the disease on the flash card.

Now write down each symptom of that disease on its own card. Next, do the same with the recommended treatments/medication. Once you’ve created a complete set of note cards for each disease that will appear on the test, mix them up by shuffling the cards together and then lay each one face up on a flat surface in random order. Now it is up to you to figure out which symptoms match which listed disease and which treatment goes with it.

Relationship Charts

This type of study material is similar to a diagram or flowchart but doesn’t require a lot of artistic ability or effort. Most note cards contain sentences of information but sometimes that isn’t always easy to memorize and recall during exams. But creating a relationship chart that clearly shows how certain concepts relate to one another is a great way to lay out data in a logical way that brain can comprehend. The relationship charts can be as simple or as complex as a student wants.

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