- Acronyms and Acrostics: (for information involving key words)
An acronym is an invented combination of letters. Each letter is a cue to an idea you
need to remember. Example: BRASS is an acronym for how to shoot a rifle--Breath, Relax,
Aim, Sight, Squeeze.
An acrostic is an invented sentence where the first letter of each word
is a cue to an idea you need to remember. Example: EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FUN is an
acrostic to remember the order of G-clef notes on sheet music--E, G, B, D, F.
Techniques and Mnemonics (link)
- Rhyme-Keys: (for ordered or unordered lists)
First, memorize key words that can be associated with numbers. For instance, bun with
one; shoe with two, tree with three, door with four, hive with five, etc.
Next create an image of the items you need to remember with key words. For example, if you
had to remember the four basic food groups-- diary products; meat, fish, and poultry;
grains; and fruit and vegetables--imagine cheese on a bun, livestock with shoes on, a sack
of grain suspended in a tree, and opening a door to a room stocked with fruits and
- The Method of Loci: (for approximately twenty items)
Select any location that you have spent a lot of time in and have easily memorized.
Imagine yourself walking through the location, selecting clearly defined places--the door,
sofa, refrigerator, shelf, etc. Imagine yourself putting objects that you need to remember
into each of these places by walking through this location in a direct path. Again, you
need a standard direct path and clearly defined locations for objects to facilitate the
retrieval of these objects. For example if you had to remember George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, and Richard Nixon, you could imagine walking up to the door of your location
and seeing a dollar bill stuck in the door; when you open the door Jefferson is reclining
on the sofa and Nixon is eating out of the refrigerator.
- The Keyword Method: (for foreign language vocabulary)
First, after considering the foreign word you need to remember, select a key word in
English that sounds like the foreign word.
Next, imagine an image which involves the key word with the English meaning of the foreign
For example, consider the Spanish word "cabina" which means "phone
booth." For the English keyword, you might think of "cab in a ... ." You
could then invent an image of a cab trying to fit in a phone booth. When you see the word
"cabina" on the test, you should be able to recall the image of the cab and you
should be able to retrieve the definition "phone booth."
- The Image-Name Technique: (for remembering names)
Simply invent any relationship between the name and the physical characteristics of the
person. For example, if you had to remember Shirley Temple's name, you might ingrain the
name in memory by noticing that she has "curly" (rhymes with Shirley) hair
around her temples.
- Chaining: (for ordered or unordered lists)
Create a story where each word or idea you have to remember cues the next idea you
need to recall. If you had to remember the words Napoleon, ear, door, and Germany, you
could invent a story of Napoleon with his ear to a door listening to people speak in
How we Remember