Flip, flip, flip: Who is king of online flashcards?

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flip, flip, flip: Who is king of online flashcards?

Flickr: koalazymonkey

Flip. Flip. Flip.

Countless hours are spent every year by students trying to memorize through repetition. (Rote learning, by the way, isn’t a dead art, according to this Edutopia article.)

But many students are substituting “flip, flip, flip” with “click, click, click” or “tap, tap, tap.”

The options for online flashcard websites are numerous, and it seems that each site is a little different. If you’re new to online flashcards, here’s what’s similar across the board for most online flashcard sites:

  • You can create their own flashcards (term and definition) and often can add audio and images to them.
  • Flashcard decks created by others are searchable and can be studied if you don’t want to make your own.
  • Most sites offer a basic “flashcard flip,” where you view the card and can flip it to see if you got the answer right. Most also offer some sort of quiz or test feature, where you can check your progress after you’ve studied the terms.
  • Sites will often log which cards you struggle with and provide feedback or additional learning opportunities.
  • Mobile apps and/or mobile web versions of the site are often available.

Beyond that, many sites have provided their own brand of innovation to stand out from the competition. Below, I’ll review the unique points of several sites and give my personal recommendations for which ones to use.
Study Blue

StudyBlue (www.studyblue.com)

StudyBlue has some creative features that stand out. It will send you a text message to remind you to study and you can customize the kinds of tests you take. Its clean, simple and classy design is inviting. But its best features aren’t available for free ($30/year or $5/mo. premium), which turns the penny pincher in me off, especially when so many alternatives exists.

Flashcard Machine

Flashcard Machine (www.flashcardmachine.com)

Flashcard Machine is your standard online flashcard site. Options are limited to flipping through cards and taking multiple-choice quizzes. Users can flag trouble cards themselves for more practice. An advanced search (by title, author, description, subject and level) is free, which is a paid option for StudyBlue. iOS and Android apps are available, but they’re not free.


Quizlet (www.quizlet.com)

Quizlet offers a nice mix of polish and options. Learning options include a fill-in-the-blank test, a test where terms are read aloud and spelled, and a test with a variety of questions. Learning games include the catch scatter (match scattered terms together) and space race (type the answer before it crashes). Its iPhone app includes a fun tactile twist on the scatter game.

Flashcard Exchange

Flashcard Exchange (www.flashcardexchange.com)

Flashcard Exchange boasts two unique features: cram mode and three-sided cards. In cram mode, students engage in a structured practice where trouble cards are repeated and mastered cards (those correctly answered five times) are set aside. Three-sided cards include a term, a definition and a hint. Flashcard Exchange integrates its card decks with other flashcard mobile apps.

Study Stack

Study Stack (www.studystack.com)

I developed a quick love/hate relationship with Study Stack. It easily has the best variety of learning games, including matching, hangman, crossword, unscramble, bug match (a spider chases and eats the bug matching the correct answer) and hungry bug (a caterpillar gobbles correct answers and grows, making the game more challenging). However, the site is laden with ads and is glitchy.

Brain Flips

Brain Flips (www.brainflips.com)

Brain Flips appears to be the online flashcard site geared toward the younger crowd. Its fun design uses cartoonish characters, flashy animations and lots of color. It’s also the only flashcard site I found that allows users to add video to flashcards (which may or may not be a great option). Its practice features are pretty standard, though.

examtimeUPDATE (5/20/14): ExamTime (www.examtime.com)

As of this update, ExamTime has undergone a design overhaul, and the results are beautiful. Its full-screen flashcard study option is simplistic and elegant. It provides an I know/I don’t know option for studying only the cards you need to. It also offers quizzes and mind maps as additional useful features. It doesn’t have games or other options for studying flashcards, though.

The final verdict!

Flashcard Exchange’s cram mode is somewhat unique and would be a useful feature, and I love Study Stack’s great selection of games for practicing vocabulary terms. However, Quizlet appears to be the overall total package to me. Quizlet’s free iOS app, its addicting learning games and huge network of users and existing flashcard decks offer the array of options that no other site can rival. Plus, users playing the learning games can battle for top scores on a leaderboard for each created deck.

Therefore, Quizlet receives the Ditch That Textbook seal of approval for online flashcard sites!

I’d love to hear which sites your students are using or which ones you feature in your classroom. What are the best features? What could be added to flashcard sites? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below!

(For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links, “like” Ditch That Textbook on Facebook and follow @jmattmiller on Twitter!)

FREE teaching ideas and templates in your inbox every week!
Subscribe to Ditch That Textbook
Love this? Don’t forget to share
  • Abeer says:

    KMZCLOUD is providing an amazing “Billiard champ” game. Billiard lovers can easily download this game from the play store and get entertainment by playing this game. Would you like to get more information about Billiard Champ?

  • Amy Melle says:

    Hello everyone! I love all of the suggestions. I am running into difficulty with younger students and the need to “create an account” on many sites – which, since they are under 13, they are too young to do. Anyone have specific knowledge on this front?

  • Ty G says:

    I’m taking a massachusetts state fire promotional exam I was trying to see if any flash cards might exist or if a service out that would make them for a fee?

  • Liz says:

    What is your opinion on Flash Card Delux and Speater for making flashcards?

  • Maggie says:

    Thanks for the great information! I have a real estate license exam coming up and wondering if you know of a site that actually emails daily flashcards (or multiple times a day). It would be a great way to weave the studying into my 9-5 work life in little snippets.

    Any insight is super helpful! Thanks. 🙂

    • Matt Miller says:

      Hey Maggie … I’m not familiar with any flashcard site that has that option. But you could always set calendar events that remind you to practice with your flashcards so you don’t forget!

  • Sidney says:

    I use cerego.com. It is a free platform that I believe has a superior algorithm than the ones you’ve mentioned. Instead of asking you how you think your level of mastery is for each flashcard, Cerego automatically determines your level of mastery for each flashcard based on how long it took for you to answer the question and whether you got it right or not. It is free to use, as is the iOS app for it. Cerego is backed by Elsevier and was designed by academics from Vanderbilt.

  • Jim says:

    I like Cram.com especially for it’s 3 sided feature and being able to use images.
    It’s got a nice feature called Cram Mode that is very useful for spaced repition work.
    Here’s short video on how to use Cram mode.

  • Andrea says:

    Quizlet is producing a new game that they invited me to tryout. It’s currently in the alpha/beta testing phase. It uses groups and is a competition and it rocks. Tried it for the first time this week in three different classes (AP environmental used it as a topic intro, then anatomy used it to review heart chambers and blood flow pattern, and to master circulatory diseases we didn’t spend much time on, but were included in the notes.) One period walked in the day after playing and automatically booted up devices assuming they would play again. I heard phrases like “learning is fun” and “this helps so much.” There are stats at the end of the game to indicate which terms students mastered, still need to work on – and what they got confused. The directions aren’t fabulous, and it takes a few rounds for the kids to get the hang of it, but the impact was impressive. Compared,to last year on the exact same summative assessment my scores went from 38%As to 79%A and only 18% D/F to 7% (which was a single D – 3 total students below a B). Granted this year’s group is a little more impressive and we did not have the disruption of 2hr delays or snow days, but am crediting the new game as being a game changer.
    Here are directions if you haven’t heard of it yet. “If you want to add another teacher to the test, email beta@quizlet.com with their username and we’ll add them right away.

    If you haven’t tried the new game yet here’s directions https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N0tG1asYzmBKgGbP56f3eRGh_ymaj22kJypiUo4bS5E/mobilebasic

  • Matt Smith says:

    I use two tools to help with my intermediate Spanish classes. The podcast Coffee Break Spanish is fantastic for aural practice and also includes some grammar. I use the website FlashcardsMate (http://www.flashcardsmate.com) for helping my vocabulary learning. I can create my own flashcards and it has built in support for Spanish verb conjugation flashcards – which is really handy for learning irregular verbs.

  • Aaron Carey says:

    A useful site I have found is http://www.flashcardsmate.com. It’s pretty basic, but has inbuilt Spanish verb conjugation – which is kind of cool.

  • Debbie Fales says:

    Here at gWhiz, we are pretty partial to gFlash+, available for iOS and Android. It’s a breeze to create and share flashcards on your device or through Google Docs. With gFlash+, users can create their own cards, use content from our free library, or access premium publisher content. Lots of options!


  • Craithse says:

    I mainly use flashcards for Japanese and because of this it isn’t as simple as a front /back per word because you also gotta learn the kanji reading too.

    So these days I’m using a less known site called http://www.JPVocab.com because they’re specially for Japanese and have the different faces. You can’t make your own decks with them tho…

  • Gideon says:

    While not exactly an online flash card, I love Memrise (misspelling intentional). It will send reminders, you can set daily goals, has customized sound snd pictures, teaches you how to create association techniques with images and words, it is based on a learning algorithm that changes as you answer correctly or incorrectly, teachers can create groups or classes and assign only one lesson of vocabulary or all, and students can compete with each other via a weekly, monthly, or all time leaderboard. Check it out! And…. BTW, it’s all free, including the ios and android versions. That makes my little penny-pinching teacher heart happy!

  • Dan says:

    If you’re looking for an app, to create flashcards fast on your phone, then you need to try “brain.cards”.
    This app has a very simple and intuitive UI. It also adapts to your learning pace.

    Give it a try –> http://brain.cards

  • PrepFlash is a study tool that allows the student to upload their class notes/pdf/text/ etc. and PrepFlash will automatically create quiz questions and flashcards for them. Check it out!

  • Oliver says:

    Please check out our flashcard site specialised for languages:


  • Eva says:

    It probably doesn’t count in the list, since you need to do a download to be able to add new cards, but my all time favorite is Anki. It’s free with unlimited set size, progress tracking, no adds or premiums (it earns by IPhone app), lots of options regarding the format and displaying of cards and it uses an algorithm or timer for the cards so the ones you don’t know as well will come up more frequently. You also get different option for how well you know the card (from “again” to “easy”).
    And even though it needs a download for adding cards, they can be reviewed through apps or online.
    The overview of individual sets could be better and there are no games, but I love the freedom and simplicity of it.
    Though Quizzlet is nice too. =]

  • dan says:

    I spent some time with Quizlet and it was very impressive, but have discovered that Flashcard Exchange (now called ‘cram’) has added almost all the features of Q., (except for test/quiz/exam mode abilities) including some very decent text-to-speech capacity (Just don’t ask it for native pronunciation, obviously the thing is designed for cognitive feedback—so you know you have the right answer, not the way to pronounce it, but the Korean voice will clearly be better than MINE for quite some time, so it still constitutes a sufficient model) that uses the identical speech engine as Q’s excellent voices.

    I tried Studyblue for a while, but found it thoroughly labyrinthian when I just wanted to GET somewhere on the site. The pervasive blue tint(s) of the site also got depressing.

    Some people have complained about bugginess in cram, so I’ll see what happens with more extensive use.

  • David Lynam says:

    I’m the creator of Flashcard Stash (http://flashcardstash.com), a vocabulary focused flashcard site that teachers and students seem to love! Flashcard Stash also has a spaced repetition mode that helps you learn over time.

  • Jeremy says:

    I love Easy Notecards. So easy to use and it’s 100% free. Only wish they had classes.


  • shytown says:

    I have been using the paid version of quizlet to memorize things in biology, chemistry, and physics for the past few years. I use it with the Flashcard deluxe app on my android phone (phenomenal app btw). I’ve found quizlet frustrating and limiting because it has extremely limited or flakey advanced text features (bullet points, numbering, etc), it doesn’t employ symbols used in math/science. I worked around this by using the upload image function. However, quizlet won’t let you post an image on the front of a card, I’ve emailed their support with no response, commented on the forums, but it seems they have no intention of adding that feature. I think I am switching to Cram, it seems to be a much more sophisticated online flashcard service that addresses all of my current concerns.

  • Sundeep Singh Chauhan says:

    Memrise is one of the best.

  • Karl says:

    I don’t agree. I presently use Quizlet for the connection to FLashCards Delux and since Quizlet has decided to drop their association I began looking at Quizlet’s cards. I don’t like the texture and think Flashcard again remains the best. And what’s this Learn mode in Quizlet? Didn’t work on my ipad at times. Missing part of the written question.

    No… I will tie into CRAM and drop Quizlet as my home base for Flashcard.

  • Nevo says:


    I love the way you can use colours to study the cards.
    You can also add photos and sound.

  • I love Quizlet, but was looking to compare StudyBlue and Quizlet (that’s how I found your site on Google). I think your article was so helpful. I decided to stick with Quizlet (even though StudyBlue has integration with Evernote) because I can embed in my website. I also enjoy the games – it appears you do too!

    Off to look through your site – I’m writing an interactive eBook to eventually replace my custom lab manual that I currently use for my Biology lab. Can’t wait to see your tips!

  • Philip says:

    Was devastated to not see http://www.examtime.com here but having spoken to Matt he has given me his blessing to comment here. 😀

    Someday soon I hope to grace the official list. Thanks Matt, keep in touch.

  • Oliver Rose says:

    p.s. as a Spanish teacher, you may be interested in the site I set up for Spanish with the ‘Lex’ widget:




  • Oliver Rose says:

    I especially like Quizlet and Cram (used to be Flashcard Exchange). Cram allows for 3-sided cards (especially good for non-romanized languages like Japanese, so you can have kanji/reading/meaning entries, for example), and has added a nice game.

    Quizlet doesn’t have a lot of progress tracking (thought they have added ‘starred items’ recently), but you can use the Quizlet sets with the online/mobile games I’ve designed at http://www.lexwordgameapp.com and http://www.phrasemazeapp.com which track progress with colored ratings depending on how you did in the game. Phrase Maze is good for not only single words but also phrases/sentences.



  • dan says:

    I agree with Quizlet. It has the best mix of open, sign-in, or paid features, the matching columns (although it has an annoying column mismatch when you want a lot of terms: half of one column will extend way below the screen forcing a perpetual up-and down fiddling to find the correct answer; the longer column should be split in two) as I was saying the matching columns isn’t just the best ‘test’ technique, it’s the best study option, although scatter is pretty good also.

    The selection is huge; it has become the default site for students. Many of my own courses, even the current ones, already have flashcard sets ready to use, even without signing in.

    Its search function for sets is somewhat primitive but with some smarts. You can get a vast array of totally useless returns, but the most likely candidates will usually be near the top.

    Study-blue is ridiculous. You have no idea what’s available unless you register, let alone pay. That’s bad advertising they should fix. With the other sites you can browse around. Much of my study on Quizlet is without even signing in now. I just go to my publicly-displayed sets.

    • dan says:

      Postscript: A preselection of categories is available on the site, and it appears to be more fully searchable via Google site search function. Of course, the card answer portions are fuzzed-out. That’s as far a you get without signing in.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Dan — Thanks for your comments. I use Quizlet very similarly: I create sets and then embed them from my class website. Students can choose the study mode they want to use without even leaving my site, or they can click through to Quizlet. The leaderboard for the games is a very popular feature too.

      • dan says:

        My P.S. referred to studyblue, I should add.

        If a few gripes about about the new cram (formerly the reviewed Flashcard Exchange) site don’t appear to add up to anything substantial, I may find it even better than Quizlet, who really should add a leitner mode to their system.

        • Matt Miller says:

          Dan — Thanks for your thoughts and the update on Flashcard Exchange/cram. It’s been a while since I wrote this post, so it’s probably time to go back and revisit. If you continue to use cram, I’d love it if you checked back to let me/us know what you thought. Thanks again!

  • Rajan Chandi says:

    You might want to include Classmint on this list.


    Create Flashcards with annotated images:

  • John says:

    Flashbook Flashcards downloads millions of cards and decks for your Android phone FREE! You can also create your own decks manually or from your study notes. Very versatile and always with you on-the-go! See: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tahoesoft.flashbooklite&hl=en

  • John Weidner says:

    Thanks for commenting about StudyStack last March. StudyStack has a link at the bottom which will allow you to “Hide Ads”. You can also subscribe to a PRO plan which has no ads for $1.50 per month or $10.00 per year.

  • >