Memorization Techniques (Part 2 of 2)

Memorizing Through Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Systems

Although you may have already found out that you have preferred learning style when it comes to the presentation of the new information, try to incorporate as many of the senses as possible when studying -- not just your preference(s). Each sense is processed in a different part of the brain, and by using all the different senses, you are using more of your brain, which will help in the retention of material. Examples are walking as you rehearse your flashcards and drawing pictures to represent abstract ideas and definition.

Method of Loci

This technique was used by ancient orators to remember speeches, and it combines the use of organization, visual memory, and association. Before using the technique, you must identify a common path that you walk. This can be the walk from your dorm to class, a walk around your house, whatever is familiar. What is essential is that you have a vivid visual memory of the path and objects along it. Once you have determined your path, imagine yourself walking along it, and identify specific landmarks that you will pass. For example, the first landmark on your walk to campus could be your dorm room, next may be the front of the residence hall, next a familiar statue you pass, etc. The number of landmarks you choose will depend on the number of things you want to remember.

Once you have determined your path and visualized the landmarks, you are ready to use the path to remember your material. This is done by mentally associating each piece of information that you need to remember with one of these landmarks. For example, if you are trying to remember a list of mnemonics, you might remember the first--acronyms--by picturing SCUBA gear in your dorm room (SCUBA is an acronym).

You do not have to limit this to a path. You can use the same type of technique with just about any visual image that you can divide into specific sections. The most important thing is that you use something with which you are very familiar.

Rhymes and Songs

Rhythm, repetition, melody, and rhyme can all aid memory. Are you familiar with Homer's Odyssey? If you are familiar with the book, then you know that it is quite long. That is why it is so remarkable to realize that this, along with many ancient Greek stories, was told by storytellers who would rely solely on their memories. The use of rhyme, rhythm, and repetition helped the storytellers remember them.

You can use the same techniques to better remember information from courses. For example, even the simple addition of familiar rhythm and melody can help. Do you remember learning the alphabet? Many children learn the letters of the alphabet to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." In fact, a student demonstrated how she memorized the quadratic formula (notorious among algebra students for being long and difficult to remember) by singing it to a familiar tune!

Using these techniques can be fun, particularly for people who like to create. Rhymes and songs draw on your auditory memory and may be particularly useful for those who can learn tunes, songs, or poems easily. Like the other techniques in this section, however, they emphasize rote memory, not understanding. Also, when devising rhymes and songs, don't spend too much time creating them. Use these techniques judiciously and don't let them interfere with your studying.

Part 1 of this post is located here.