Studying hard for that next exam? Or just trying to develop your expertise and knowledge?
Mnemonics are learning techniques that aid memory. You’ll be surprised at how these quirky mnemonics can make memorising facts, quotes, formulas, lists, sequences and other info much easier!
Rhymes & Songs
Remember when you first memorised your ABCs? For most of us, it was done by singing it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!
Working facts and information into the form of a catchy rhyme or song you know, can be useful for memory and the brain.
This is a nifty example often used in the US for remembering facts about Columbus:
- In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
He travelled the world with ease because he was Genovese
And this neat little rhyme can be useful when studying and remembering medians, means and modes:
- Hey diddle diddle, the median is the middle,
Just add and divide for the mean;
The mode is the one that features the most,
And the range is the difference between
Acrostics are useful memory tools where the first letter of each word/phrase is used to remind us of a corresponding word/phrase. If you’re struggling with a snippet of information, try creating an acrostic.
Students learning music, for instance, might know this:
- Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit – which is used to remember the lines of the treble stave (E, G, B, D, F)
In Australia, this is a common saying to help us remember relationships between North, South, East and West (just go clockwise):
- Never Eat Soggy Weetbix
And did you know there’s an easy acrostic for remembering the roman numerals? It is:
- IValue Xylophones Like Cows Dig Milk – which corresponds to 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000
Acronyms are where the first letter of each word is used for forming a new or compound word.
Popular acronyms we use today include LOL (‘laugh out loud’), BTW (‘by the way’) and OMG (‘oh my god’).
- If you need to remember the colours of the spectrum, for example, you might simply remember the name: Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
Can you turn any of your formulas or facts into an acronym?
Hands and Fingers
Some information can also be remembered by relating it to your hands and fingers – or pretty much anywhere else on your body!
- Many people use their knuckles to remember which months have 30 or 31 days, where the months assigned to the knuckles have 31 days and the months that go with the dips in-between have 30 days (except for February, of course)
Consider whether you can utilise your hands, fingers, feet or anything else to help you remember sequences or stats!
Shapes & Images
Shapes, images, charts and similar visual aids can be excellent ways to help aid memory and information. They are also great for helping you remember relationships or sequences.
Here’s a cool example used in astronomy:
- The letters ‘DOC’ are used as a visual trigger to help memorise the lunar cycle
- The ‘D’ represents the illuminated right hand side of the moon (first quarter), the ‘O’ represents a full moon and the ‘C’ represents illumination on the left hand side
Think about how you can use shapes or drawings, in conjunction with other mnemonics, to help you remember those important cycles, systems or relationships!
Remembering with Method of Loci
Loci is an ancient remembering method used to memorise speeches. It makes use of imagery and physical memory, and is great if you need to remember a cycle, list or sequence.
- Visualise a place you know well, like your house or suburb
- Imagine yourself walking a path through your house or suburb and remember the ‘landmarks’ you see along the way. ‘Landmarks’ might be the rooms or furniture you walk past or the things in your suburb you would see (e.g. playground, car park)
- Next, start ‘walking’ along the same path once again
- Now, allocate each item or fact you need to remember to each ‘landmark’.
- So if you were trying to remember the order of the planets, you might assign Mercury to your front door (imagine your front door is hot), then Venus to your hallway table (also hot), then Earth to the couch (where you ‘live’), then Mars to the lamp (imagine if your lamp was red!), and so on
- The next time you want to remember the information, simply visualise yourself walking that same path – and the physical/visual elements will help you remember the order of facts or items. Amazing, huh?
Loci works – give it a try!
We hope that these cool little mnemonics will help make you a memory whiz and give you the boost you need to make your studying or exams much more fruitful!
What tips, tricks or mnemonics work for you?