5 Online Flashcard Tools that Can Boost Learning and Motivation

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

Finding the motivation to study can be hard when you have ADHD and having ADHD can make it harder to memorize important information when it’s not related to something that you find particularly interesting. One of the keys to studying with ADHD is figuring out which strategies work for you and doing little things to make these strategies as engaging and fun as possible. Flashcards are one study tool that can be great for ADHD. They build confidence through repetition, so you’ll feel prepared going into your exam and you can build in visual cues that make the content easier to recall on test day. You can make them interactive and engaging when you use them with friends or parents, and when you build in memorization goals and rewards.

While old school flashcards on paper or index cards can work well, online flashcards take things to the next level with features like definition libraries, pictures and images, “flexible scoring,” and premade card stacks for popular topics. As a bonus, all of the information is stored online, making it possible for you to study from anywhere as long as you have a phone or tablet with you.

There are many online flashcard programs available, each with different features. Here’s my take on some of the most popular feature-rich programs to choose from.

Cram.  Creating flashcards in Cram is straightforward: you have a front, a back and a hint section that you can choose fill in. You can add photos or create text-only cards. As a bonus, you can choose from two study modes: “Memorization” and “Cram.” In Memorization mode you go through each flashcard in your set at your own pace and get a performance report at the end. In Cram mode you go through the same set of cards, but you can’t move on from a card until you get it correct. This can force you to look up information if you’re not sure of the answer or stay focused on a card until you’ve really processed the concept. https://www.cram.com/

Quizlet. Quizlet is full of features for visual and auditory learners. With Quizlet you start by creating a “study set” of all the terms and definitions that you need to master. Your definitions can be text, images, or even audio recordings. Next you publish your study set to your account, where you can save multiple study sets saved for multiple classes. You can quiz yourself from either the website or the app, and tailor the scoring method to meet your preferences. For example, if you want to focus on progress rather than perfection, you can enable “flexible scoring” which gives you credit for multiple answers or partial answers. Similar to Cram, Quizlet offers multiple study modes, with Flashcard mode (one at a time), Learn mode where you need to provide a correct answer before you’re able to move on to the next card, and Match mode where you can work on improving your response time. Quizlet also offers a library of flashcards that other users (some of whom are teachers) have published for sharing. http://www.quizlet.com

StudyStack. StudyStack takes a more game-like approach to studying, which can help tremendously with motivation! You can create basic flashcards, or use your stack to create crossword puzzles, matching games, word searches and more. A quick note: StudyStack’s free version does contain advertising, but an ad-free version is available for a small fee.  http://www.studystack.com

Adobe Spark.  Adobe Spark is a tool that’s great for visual learners. It was originally designed as storyboarding program, so they really do take the visual components to the next level. You start by picking the size and shape of the cards, then you select a theme, add images and text, and download your completed cards. While this tool might not be great for studying math concepts, it really stands out when it comes to more visual subjects like geography, art, and even history. https://spark.adobe.com/make/card-maker/flashcards/

Brainscape. Brainscape was developed by a team of cognitive researchers who wanted take findings from academic research and put them into practice where they could help people learn more effectively. An enormous library of premade flashcards is included in the app, which draws on sophisticated research to implement patterns of repetition, color, social interactions, breaks, sounds, humor, animations, achievements, and rewards! All in an effort to improve learning!  The tool started out in the cognitive science lab at Columbia University before it was rolled out to the public, and it now includes components for high school students as well as college students (and adults studying for professional certification exams!). There are many features within Brainscape that are free, and a subscription model can be purchased to unlock even more features. http://www.brainscape.com

With so many online flashcard programs to choose from, you are bound to find one that is the right fit for your learning style. If you start with one app and find your motivation lagging over time, mix it up by trying a new app with different features. Sometimes it just takes a small change to get your motivation and focus back on track.



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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