Studying can be rough. Long hours trying to memorize complex jargon, or maybe difficulty learning that biology lesson about human cell reproduction. Over time, you’re convinced that academics is likely not your forte. Or maybe school becomes your number one source of anxiety, yikes! Well, worry not, learning doesn’t have to be that tedious a task; nor should anybody spend long hours hitting them books without actually being able to reproduce that “knowledge” come exam day. Today we introduce mnemotechnics, the the art of memory, so that at any moment, you learn any one concept once, and for all.
MNEMOTECHNICS – WHAT IS IT?
Mnemotechnics is a set of techniques that make memorization easier and more effective. It can help you memorize all kinds of things, be they textual, auditory, or visual..
Of course, if you’re studying for, say, a college exam, mnemotechnics comes in handy. But the benefits of mastering the art of memory don’t just end there. You can use mnemonic techniques for any activity that involves your brain. Whether you’re learning a new language, learning chess, or learning to code, you can adopt mnemotechnics to make your knowledge acquisition more effective. For more examples of lifelong hobbies or skills worth learning, check out 10 things you should consider learning today.
Improving your memory can even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, so there’s no question it’s worth the effort.
Your brain is a muscle, and, like all muscles, it needs stimulation to develop. There are countless ways to practice your memory, such as playing games (video games, board games, card games, etc.), learning languages (both natural languages and programming languages), or even memorizing song lyrics..
I know what you’re saying, “This isn’t a technique!” Well, you’re kinda right. But training your brain is an essential part of mnemotechnics. Without it, all the fancy techniques wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
THE KEYWORD TECHNIQUE
This technique is used mainly for memorizing words and phrases. If you plan to learn a new language, this is a must-have. It can also come in handy when learning all kinds of technical jargon.
The point is that, when trying to memorize a new word, you come up with a similar term that you’re already familiar with. It can resemble the new word’s spelling, pronunciation, or meaning, whatever suits your needs. Here’s an example:
You’re studying for a Spanish test, and there’s a new word you need to memorize: ropa (clothes). Since ropa sounds and looks like the English word rope, try imagining a person wearing a gown made of rope. Voilà! These two words are now eternally linked. Chances are you’ll never forget how to say “clothes” in Spanish.
The more ridiculous the connection, the better. Let your imagination run wild!
THE RHYME/RHYTHM TECHNIQUE
Using rhymes and rhythm to memorize things is a trick as old as time. Still, it’s very effective even today. You can use this technique to remember words, historical dates, people’s names, and much more.
There are countless songs out there designed to help memorize the alphabet, the 7 continents, the 50 states, etc. They are particularly beneficial for kids, but we can all take advantage of them from time to time.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to what’s already available. You can create your own phrases/songs/poems depending on your needs.
For example, if you meet a James who likes to play video games, you can simply remember the phrase “James games.” Not only do you remember his name but also his hobby. Two birds with one stone.
THE ACRONYM TECHNIQUE
It’s easier to remember one word than a whole bunch of words. So why not convert a list of phrases into one compact and easy-to-remember unit (acronym)?
Let’s say you’re going to buy some groceries. Instead of making a list of the things you need, you can simply take the first letters of each item and combine them into one word. Milk, eggs, tomatoes, apples, and lemons can become METAL. Just like that, you can turn five words into one.
Of course, the acronym method can also be helpful in the academic realm. Imagine that you’re struggling to remember which conjunctions require a comma. There is a well-known acronym that can help you memorize just that: FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Back to high school, eh? You can’t possibly forget that.
There are a bunch of other convenient acronyms for all kinds of fields of study. If you’re struggling with remembering some set of phrases/words/names, try looking for mnemonic acronyms that might help you. If there aren’t any, create your own ones!
THE VISUALIZATION TECHNIQUE
But what if you can’t stand words and wordplay? What if you prefer something more vivid? Well, this method is just for you.
Most people find it easier to memorize visual imagery than texts. That’s because visuals are more natural, and our brains are conditioned to deal with them thanks to evolution, to use the word loosely. But what if you’re supposed to memorize something that’s not in the visual form? Well, you have to visualize it.
This technique can be used in several contexts – when you’re learning a new language; when you’re studying for an exam; when you’re buying groceries; you name it.
If you want to study physics (or you simply wish to pass an exam) you can use the visualization technique to remember, say, the three laws of motion. Instead of memorizing the text of the laws, you can try imagining scenarios in which these laws apply. Not only will you remember what the three laws of motion state, but you are also more likely to understand them this way.
Here’s another example: Do you remember how to say “clothes” in Spanish? That’s right, it’s ropa. The reason you remembered that (I hope you did!) is not only because you associated the Spanish ropa with the English rope. It’s also because you visualized a person wearing a gown made of rope. This is an example of using two mnemonic techniques at the same time. Pretty neat, huh?
These are some of the most commonly used mnemonic techniques. If you want to study more effectively or if you’re sick of forgetting things all the time, consider adopting a couple tricks here and there. These techniques serve as workarounds for a reason; they save your time, facilitate learning or remembering, and generally make life easier for everyone.