We have recently added more than 3000 biology flashcards to Darwin. But why?
There are no second thoughts over the fact that flashcards are a great memorization aid. They can help you remember important facts with the help of active recall and retention. Back to at least 1805, flashcards used to be printed on actual cardboard or paper and were typically two-sided. The front of the card gave a clue or cue, and the back offered the solution. Students used these stacks of flashcards to recall and remember high yield concepts. Examined the hint on the front, made a guess, and then checked the back to confirm whether the recall was successful or not. After multiple repetitions of the flashcards, the answers get firmly embedded in memory, completing the learning task.
Many students still create and use flashcards by manually writing down the hints and solutions on hundreds of paper cards, shuffle them as required, and continuously review the deck until they establish a vague sense of accomplishment.
Digital flashcards provide the advantages of physical flashcards and the bonus of clever algorithms to speed up the learning process.
Why only flashcards?
You might be asking why we introduced flashcards over video lectures and notes. There are two explanations for this.
First and foremost, flashcards are the perfect fit for our goal of assisting students in cracking NEET through purposeful practice. Not all high-yield and important concepts can be covered in MCQ explanations; thus, flashcards are a better option. Second, we looked into studies that analyzed the effects of different teaching approaches on recall, and flashcards came out on top, along with MCQs.
The feeling of sitting in front of stacks of books, that too, just a few days before your NEET exam, might be a bit overwhelming. It’s a good idea to jot down everything in a notebook. You should have started working on self-authored notes if you are serious about your preparation. It is still an effective way to learn and revise. However, there are several aspects of this procedure that can improve.
While going through notes, ideally, you should spend more time on hard to remember concepts. When you have all your concepts in one place, there is no convenient way to do this. On the other hand, some of these concepts will be simple to recollect, and there is no benefit in going over them again and again.
However, because you have no quantitative understanding of how difficult a fact is, any effort to improve the method is purely conjecture.
Many cognitive science case studies had mentioned that “practice testing” (flashcards and MCQs in our case) could give you a massive advantage over re-reading and underlining books.
A repeated exposure at the right frequency can help you retain information far more effectively.
You cannot carry your notebook all the time. Even if you can, you might not be able to open it in some places. In this digital era, one item you can certainly access at any moment is your smartphone. Are you waiting for a bus or a class to get started? Just go over some flashcards. It’s that simple.
Remember that flashcards are tried and tested method of reviewing material, but they cannot replace other methods. Use flashcards to help you recall vital facts and notes to help you understand and revise key topics. When used correctly, flashcards can surely help you leapfrog the competition.
Concept behind the effective learning
You might be wondering at this point:
Is it necessary for me to go over the flashcards on a regular basis?
Is it necessary for me to go over all of the cards every time I practice?
These are all reasonable concerns regarding the process. When you have a vast syllabus to cover, you have to be efficient with your card repetitions.
The speed with which our brain forgets things is depicted with the help of this forgetting curve. The red curve indicates how memory deteriorates if it is not actively recalled later. The green curve in the graph shows the degradation of your memory after active recalls. As you can see, with active recalls, your memory improves and the rate with which it reduces, deteriorates. This spaced repetition regularly halts the “forgetting curve.”
Darwin’s flashcard algorithm uses this research in the background to ensure that you recall and retain more stuff in lesser time.
Let’s take a look at how this algorithm works in the background.
What happens behind the scenes
As you practice flashcards, our algorithm begins to crunch numbers in the background. It takes your feedback into account and evaluates the difficulty level of each card for you.
If you indicate that you faced difficulty while remembering the flashcard card or could not recall it, our algorithm will start showing that card more often to you. If you indicate higher levels of recall, we will give a card a lesser preference in recurrence.
Instead of simply displaying the hint and asking you to remember the answer, the algorithm prioritizes these flashcards based on your feedback. Cards that were challenging to recall will be repeated more frequently than the easier to recall cards. All this crunching allows you to save time and makes the process much more efficient. The algorithm works like a digital coach and makes sure that you utilize your time in the best possible way.
Using flashcards on Darwin
You can access these flashcards from the workout page. As of now, we have added flashcards just for biology as it covers 50% of the questions in your NEET exam, and flashcards tend to work best for knowledge-intensive subjects like biology. Simply choose a subject (Botany or Zoology), select a sub-topic and begin practicing these flashcards on Darwin.
As soon as you start practicing a flashcard, we give you a cue and ask you to guess the answer. When you click the ‘Tap on Answer’ button, we will reveal the answer. After you’ve seen it, you have to rate your guess on the scale of 0-5.
5: Excellent recall
4: Successful recall after hesitation
3: Successful recall with serious difficulty
2: Incorrect recall, where the correct answer seemed easy to recall
1: Incorrect recall, correct answer remembered
0: Complete Blackout
Our AI keeps a record of each feedback and uses it for spaced repetition.
If you give 4 or 5 in the feedback rating, our system knows that the recall was successful and that biology flashcard will be displayed in subsequent sessions at strategic points, as per the forgetting curve. This stage is known as the learning stage.
If you choose a feedback rating between 0-3, it gives our AI a signal that you faced trouble recalling the flashcard. Our algorithm will put that flashcard in the review bucket, and it can be frequently reviewed before and after flashcard workout sessions. This is the review stage. Moreover, when you see a flashcard for the first time, it is in the “fresh” stage.
Over time, these spaced repetitions will optimize your performance by repeating harder concepts at an optimal interval to achieve maximum memory retention.
NEET Biology Flashcards on Darwin are ideal for quick review, active recall and retention of high-yield concepts. As of now, only premium members have access to them. We will soon be launching them for physics and chemistry to cover the remaining high-impact content. You can start using them to complement your NEET MCQ practice and establish a solid foundation.