Chapter 4




Memorization Techniques

Memorization Techniques

When you know something, is it because you have

assimilated a chunk of knowledge. As long as

you can retrieve the information stored, you

remember it. Over time, experiences encountered

may overlay a memory causing difficulty in retrieval

and perhaps an inability to remember. In most cases

the memory is still there, but is no longer easily

returned to. The following sections contain several

memorization techniques you can use to develop a

pattern which is easy to return to.

The Keyword Method

Tests require us to remember large amounts of

information. Often though, all you need to actually

memorize is one key word. This is the essence of the

keyword approach. Read the entire article or

explanation. Then reread. While rereading look

for a single word that summarizes or denotes the

main idea. Highlight or write this word down.

Develop a list of these keywords. Then either

directly memorize the list by frequent recital, or

use one of the techniques described below.


The Pegword Method

Pegwords are used to remember short lists

of up to ten items, especially when the list must be

learned in a particular order. The technique utilizes

a number such as "one" represented by the pegword

"bun." You visualize the item you are trying to

memorize in a picture with a bun. Once you have the

picture memorized, you would know where the item

was in a list because the pegword is linked to a number.


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Memorization Techniques

One of the strengths of this technique is that the same pegwords are used for different lists. It is like hanging a bunch of different jackets or ballcaps on ten pegs in your closet.

The actual pegwords are standard (although they could be personalized). Some researchers have developed pegwords for numbers past ten, but that makes a rather long list and decreases its effectiveness,

Here are the first ten pegwords:

one is bun

two is shoe

three is tree

four is door

five is hive

six is sticks

seven is heaven

eight is gate

nine is vine

ten is hen

Choose your own pegwords for the numbers if you wish. Your pegwords should create a catchy phrase as the rhyming example above. Memorize the list before proceeding.

Remember that the picture is the memory you will use, not the word. The picture should be detailed like a snapshot. Take each item on the list you are memorizing and associate a pegword with it. When you try to memorize the list, recall just the pictures each time. This will give your memory a visual aid in recalling not only the item but also its place on the list.

For example: Here is a list of the principal types of accidental death (in order):

Motor vehicle







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Memorization Techniques

To use pegwords, develop pictures. For instance:

  1. The driver eating a hot dog and having more attention

    to the bun than the road. 

  2. A person falling over an untied show.

  3. A poison fruit picked off a tree.  
  4. A baby left in a bathtub with the door closed.

  5. Burning a hive to get the honey.

  6. An object that sticks in the throat.
  7. A rifle that sent you to heaven.



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Memorization Techniques




An acronym is a word where the letters stand for the first letter of each item on the list. For an acronym to work, the list must be of familiar things so the letter will prompt the correct word or item. Probably you already have been exposed to acronyms through geography or music class.

A common geographical acronym is the word HOMES used for the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior). If you did not already know or have a familiarity with the Great Lakes, the acronym would not help. However, with the first letter known you can often guess, particularly with a multiple choice test.

Another acronym is Roy G. Biv. Although it is not a real name, practice saying it about 20 times and you have the colors of the spectrum of visible light in order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

Another acronym is the name of this class PASS, which stands for Practical Academic Study Skills.





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Memorization Techniques


Just as an acronym takes the first letters and makes a word,

An acrostic makes

a sentence.

For example, "Every

Good Boy Deserves

Fudge" is an acrostic

for the notes on the

line of a treble clef

(as FACE is an acronym for the notes in the spaces). The

technique is to write the first letters down and then

to find words that make a sentence.



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Here's a 3 step process from Dartmouth.