Have you ever had to remember something tough to remember? Of course, we all have once, twice, and thrice or several times faced this situation. It gets even harder when it’s your exam tomorrow, specifically science, and you are stuck at remembering the periodic table. The pressure is real! Students often struggle trying to remember certain types of information. Further, there are some things that we remember naturally like we don’t have to think hard to remember our best friend’s name or our birthday date or what happened in our favorite movie, but we need to remember the order of the planets in our solar system, the elements in the periodic table or the number of bones in human body. That’s when a technique called mnemonics or mnemonic device or mnemonic aid comes into the picture.
Mnemonic comes from a Greek word for “memory” or “remembrance,” and mnemonics were master of ancient Greek scholars and Roman scholars. These are shortcuts that we can use to help us remember stuff, and it can be anything like poems, songs, word, image, connection, etc. It is an extra layer of information on top that is easier to remember.
The “Mind Palace” Technique
This involves picturing a house you know with many rooms. As you travel through the house, you associate the things you need to remember with each place. This is specifically useful when you are trying to remember a list of people.
People have come up with so many other mnemonic devices since the “mind palace.” One of the most popular is to make an acronym out of the first letter of the list of words. For instance: The acronym BODMAS is the order of operations for math as Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, and Subtraction.
This is making a sentence out of the first letter that is easy and fun to remember. For instance: to remember the planets in our solar system in order of increasing distance from the sun, it’s easy to remember, “My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Noodles (Plate) which is for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and (Pluto), poor Pluto!
Sometimes we can use something physical as a mnemonic device. For instance: Do you know which months have 31 days? Yes, you do, but there is a way to memorize that quickly. Each knuckle on your fist stands for a month with 31 days. The valleys in between each knuckle have 30 except February, which has 28 days.
Ahh! The big numerical values are tedious to remember. It brings so much confusion. But chunking can do the job for you. It plays its role when you learn a whole bunch of information and organize it into chunks that make sense. For instance: instead of trying to memorize a sequence of 8 numbers like 17822014, break it into two chunks that sound like years like 1782 and 2014.
The Craziest and fun mnemonics are poems and songs mnemonics. As its name suggests, this is putting the information you find hard to remember into your favorite song. This is something we all are using since kindergarten. For instance: the first-ever mnemonics you learned was, of course, the ABC song! Admit it; we still sing it ourselves when we are alphabetizing.
The PEG System
This system is useful for remembering numbers. It uses keywords that are represents a number. For instance: one bun, two shoe, three tree, four door, five drive, six sticks, seven heaven, eight gate, nine wine and ten hen. Consider, you need to remember a number, let the speed of light that is 186000 miles per second. Now imagine (one) bun walking through an (eight) gate with (six) sticks in his hand to reach a room full of light. Quite childish but fun, right!
These are the visual pattern that consists of a central word or concept that can create a framework. Around this central word, we can draw 4 to 10 main ideas that relate to that word. The major benefit of mind maps is that they vividly and accurately show relationships between ideas.
How to Make Mnemonics Memorable
- Exaggerate things in your mind to stand it out.
- Think vibrant, colorful
- Be funny, humorous, and an absolute child while thinking of it.
- The mnemonics should be associated with the concept being remembered.
When you first think about it, mnemonics don’t seem to be a very useful memory trick because you have to remember twice as much. But that’s actually why they work. A simple way to think about memory is that we store information in it kind of like a file in a filing cabinet. Recalling information can be easier when it connects to other information you already know. Sometimes, it’s between random bits of information like setting the periodic table to the tune of the song you love.
That’s the beauty of it because the only restriction is put by you only. You are only limited by the restrictions that you place on your creativity.