Memorization Techniques

Students who have a natural ability to easily memorize facts, figures, and procedures may have an easier time taking tests and may earn higher scores on exams. After all, being able to memorize more easily allows you to quickly answer fact-based questions and provide more detailed answers on essay questions. Fortunately, for those students who may have some trouble memorizing, there are different techniques that can help you improve your memory.

One technique is to create an acronym, which is when you combine letters to form a word. The word may be real or made up. Each of the letters in the word is meant to trigger your memory to help you remember an item. For example, the word PEMDAS is an acronym used to help math students remember the sequence of operations they should use when solving a problem. The letters in PEMDAS stand for parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. Therefore, when a student is solving a problem, if he or she knows the acronym PEMDAS, it will help the student to remember that he or she must complete multiplication in the problem before he or she performs addition.

Another technique is to create an acrostic, which is a sentence where the first letter of each word represents an idea that you need to remember. For example, a popular acrostic is, “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” The first letters of the words in the sentence, E G B D F, stand for the G-clef sequence of music notes. Another well-known acrostic is related to an acronym, PEMDAS, mentioned above. “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” is an acrostic for the order of operations when solving math problems.

When you need to remember a list, either in a specific or a random order, using rhyme-keys may help. The idea is to associate key words in the list of things you need to remember with numbers. Rhyming the key words with the number will help you to remember them. Imagine that you need to remember the four basic food groups, which are dairy, meat, grains, and fruits and vegetables. The rhyme-key method asks you to begin by associating a word with a number. Bun rhymes with one, shoe rhymes with two, tree rhymes with three, door rhymes with four, etc. Next, try to associate the word with each group you need to remember. For example, cheese on a bun can be associated and rhymed with the number one and represent the dairy group. Cows wearing shoes would represent the second group (meat), a bag of grain hanging from a tree can be associated with the third group (grain), and fruits and vegetables can be just beyond a door (which we rhymed with the number four).

Finally, a memorization method that is useful when you need to remember names is an image-name technique. With this technique, you take a physical characteristic of a person and associate it with his or her name. If you need to remember Shirley Temple’s name, for example, you might associate her curly hair. Curly (the image) rhymes with Shirley (the name), which helps you associate them and thus remember Shirley Temple’s name more easily.


Last Updated: June 4, 2019