SAT Flashcards: How to Use Them for SAT Prep?

Many SAT students wonder whether they should invest time in making flashcards to use as study aids while preparing for the exam. In this blog, we’ll examine the top 6 reasons why I advise our SAT students to make and frequently use flashcards. I’ll also give some illustrations of how to use your SAT prep flashcards most efficiently.

I advise our SAT students to make and frequently use flashcards.

SAT Flashcards

Here are the points we’ll cover:

Reason #1: Use Flashcards for Both Math and Verbal Learning

You’ve probably heard that the best way to memorize critical math formulas is with SAT math flashcards. As you probably know, a great SAT math score requires the memorization of numerous formulas. Flashcards help us internalize essential formulas and allow us to quickly see what we know and what we do not.

For example, in Geometry, you’ll need to memorize formulas such as:

  • Area of rectangle = base x height
  • Pythagorean theorem : a^2 + b^2 = c^2

In Algebra, you’ll need to know procedures such as:

  • The Distributive Law: x(x + c) = x^2 + xc
  • The Zero Products Property: If (x – a)(x – b) = 0 then x = a or x = b

These are just a few types of math facts you can commit to flashcards.

In addition to being great skill builder tools for learning math formulas and processes, flashcards can significantly help you learn verbal concepts, especially grammar and usage rules.

For example, you could review:

  • Commonly tested homophones, such as their/there/they’re or its/it’s
  • Examples of the usage of the relative pronouns who, that, and which
  • Appropriate use of semicolons and commas


Flashcards are an excellent tool for committing math and verbal facts to memory.

Next, let’s discuss the versatility of flashcards as a learning tool.

Reason #2: Tailor Flashcards to Your Unique Needs

Flashcards are an extremely flexible learning tool because you can tailor them to your unique needs. For example, you can select which format and type of flashcard you prefer: physical cards, such as index cards, or cards made with a digital phone app. Additionally, you can further personalize your paper flashcards by color-coding them or making stacks of those you’ve already mastered and those you haven’t. Digital flashcard apps allow you to practice your cards via quizzes or games, making study more enjoyable and motivating.

Regardless of which route you take, you can also customize the content of your flashcards. In addition to including math formulas on your cards, you might put practice problems on the cards. Furthermore, for verbal, you might put practice sentences that illustrate the grammar concepts that have given you the most trouble.

Flashcards also allow you to switch up your test prep study routine. They are excellent for independent study, but you can also involve your family or friends. For example, when I was preparing for the SAT, I had my brother or mom and dad quiz me on my flashcards. Studying with your friends or family is also a great way to keep up a high level of motivation for your SAT.


Use physical or digital flashcards and personalize them to your unique needs.

Next, let’s discuss how flashcards make it easier to study.

Reason #3: Use Flashcards Anytime, Anywhere

With SAT flashcards, you can fit in “quick-hit” study sessions whenever and wherever you like. You will normally sit at a desk or table to complete your regular SAT studying. However, it never hurts to knock out an extra 10 or 15 minutes of SAT studying while you’re on the go.

You can also study while waiting in line for an appointment, during your lunch or study hall, or on the way to school if you take the bus. Using these moments to study your flashcards can add 20 minutes or more to your daily study time. That extra time would add up to 20 x 7 = 140 minutes each week, or 980 minutes per month, which is almost 16 hours. That’s a lot of extra study time!


You can get in some extra study time by using your flashcards no matter where you are.

Let’s now consider how flashcards can help organize you.

Reason #4: Flashcards Organize Your SAT Prep

With SAT flashcards, it’s easy to keep track of the verbal and math topics you’ve mastered and those you haven’t. Simply separate your cards into piles marked “mastered” and “not mastered.” If you use this surefire strategy, you’ll always know exactly what you need to study at any given time.

While you will be spending most of your time on the “not mastered” pile, occasionally look back at the “mastered” pile because you need to ensure that nothing has slipped through the cracks. When looking at that pile, if you discover that you’ve forgotten a topic or concept, return those cards to the “not mastered” pile.


Divide your SAT flashcards into two piles — “mastered” and “not mastered” — and devote more time to reviewing the “not mastered” pile.

Let’s now learn how we can adapt flashcards to our study needs.

Reason #5: Adapt Flashcards to Your Study Needs

When you begin your SAT studying, I’m sure you will have some pretty “standard” flashcards to help you with some initial concepts. You can use flashcards for math and verbal. Let’s first run through an example of a math flashcard.

Math Flashcard Example

For math, for example, you may have a flashcard on the difference of two squares, as follows:

Front of Card:

sat Math Flashcard Example

Back of Card:

sat flashcard example 1 back

Certainly, this generic flashcard can be helpful, but it is even more useful if it includes a specific problem that has given you issues during your review. For instance, suppose you incorrectly answered a question involving the factored form of x^100 – y^100, which is a particular application of the difference of squares formula. So, rather than just reviewing the solution and moving on, you can add the problem you missed to the flashcard. Thus, by studying that flashcard, you can ensure that you will never make the same mistake again.

Your updated difference of squares flashcard would now be this:

New Front of Card:

maths flashcard example 2

New Back of Card:

sat math flashcard example 3

You now have a super-effective flashcard because it addresses both the general formula and your specific knowledge gap related to the difference of two squares. So, don’t be afraid to update and add more detail to your flashcards. Next, let’s look at a verbal flashcard.

Verbal Flashcard Example

Your flashcards can specify particular verbal concepts that need extra attention. For example, consider the difference between the quantity words “number” and “amount.”

Front of Card:

Verbal Flashcard Example 1

Back of Card:

Verbal Flashcard Example 2

As an example, suppose you incorrectly answer a grammar/usage question with the answer “amount of people” instead of “number of people.” You could add this detail to the generic definition of the quantity words “number” and “amount.” Perhaps you could add a sentence that correctly uses the quantity words. You could adjust the back of your flashcard as follows:

New Back of Card:

verbal flashcard example 2

By adding your own example, you will invest more in the flashcard’s information and, consequently, will be more likely to remember the difference between the two “quantity” words.


Use your flashcards to include specific examples of questions that you have answered incorrectly.

Let’s now focus on how flashcards can be a source of motivation.

Reason #6: Flashcards Help to Motivate You

To engage in useful SAT studying, you need to be an active participant in your prep. Too often, I hear from students who spend hours studying and do not retain anything. Don’t let that be you!

Using SAT flashcards is one way to be an “active learner.” When you’re using your flashcards, change things up from time to time. For instance, don’t always study your flashcards in the same order.

Also, try to gamify your studying by seeing how many flashcards you get right in a row. Or see how many your friends or family can get right. Turn your studying into a friendly competition! You must make every effort to maintain motivation and keep the process engaging because studying for the SAT is a journey.


To make your SAT prep more challenging, more engaging, and more effective, “gamify” your flashcard study.

Key Takeaways

Flashcards are an easy, convenient way to review or memorize key information while you’re studying for the SAT.

In this article, we’ve looked at 6 major reasons to add them to your study repertoire:

  1. Flashcards Can Be Used for Both Math and Verbal Learning
  2. Flashcards Can Be Tailored to Your Unique Needs
  3. Flashcards Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere
  4. Flashcards Organize Your SAT Prep
  5. Flashcards Can Be Personalized
  6. Flashcards Help to Motivate You

What’s Next?

Ready to make some flashcards? These SAT math concepts related to similar triangles are a good place to start. 

Then check out this article on whether vocabulary words are tested on the SAT and whether you should make flashcards for SAT words. 

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