A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Mnemonic Strategies

Memory Requires the 3 R’s - “recording,  retaining,  &  retrieving”.

To remember you must succeed at all three steps.  Thus, it is easier to forget than to remember, because you have 3 stages to fail rather than one:

“1 chance to remember and 3 to forget” “The secret to successful memorization hinges on the ability to ORGANIZE information as it is filed away in your mind.”   (Dr. K. L. Higbee)  Memory strategies can use a set of pre-memorized words,  visual images,  phonetics,  or locations.   Using mnemonics helps you learn abstract information and organize it for memory.  The following examples are meant to help you develop your own mnemonic devices.

“Pre-memorized words” 

  • Using a key word to learn a list: 
    ex. Homes - is made from the first letter of all the Great Lakes. It helps   
    you remember their names (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior), but will not give you their sequence (Michigan, Superior, Ontario, Erie, Huron)
  • Using a key word to learn a sequence:
    ex.  Foil - is made from the word for each step in an algebra process, First, Outside, Inside, Last.  (x + 2y)(3x - y) = (x)(3x) + (x)(-y) + (2y)(3x) + (2y)(-y). It tells the order to multiply terms in order to get the correct answer.
  • Using a sentence as a cue to learn a sequence:
    ex. “On Old Olympus Towering Tops, a Finn and Greek Vended Some Hops.”
    The first letter of each (capitalized) word gives the name of a cerebral nerve – they are given in order of location:  Olfactory,  Optic, Occulomotor,  Trochlear,  Trigeminal, Abducens, Facial,   Acoustic (Vestibular-Cochlear),  Glossopharyngial,  Vagus, Spinal Accessory, Hypoglossal. Developing WORD or SENTENCE cues.  Choose the material you need to learn. Must it be learned sequentially, or do you just need to know a list?  If possible, develop a key word to remember this list.  If no convenient word can be developed, devise a sentence cue.  Incorporate visual cues wherever possible.

Pegging Auditory-Visual Cues To Word Meaning

  • Associating a Latin name with a plant or animal:
    Learn Latin names for plants and animals by establishing a visual to auditory link.
  • First know the meaning of the latin root.  Acer saccarinum.  Acer is a word referring to all plants of the MAPLE family; saccarinum means sugar (saccarine). This is the sugar maple tree’s name.
  • Associate the meaning with the appearance or a quality of the plant.
    This is the plant maple syrup is made from.
  • Practice finding the object you must identify and say/write its name when you find it.
  •  Practice saying the name then finding it. (Practice mostly the way you’ll be tested.)