Memory Techniques


Do you have a good memory? When you’re at high school, college or university, it seems that there is so much to remember.

How many times have you heard other students say, “I just can’t seem to remember anything”. I know I’ve said this many times in my academic career.

You may not realise it but memory is one of the study skills which can be improved dramatically.

Fortunately, there are many methods which you can use to help you remember everything you need to know. These methods help you to remember facts accurately and to remember the structure of information.

As with any skill, you need to practice using these techniques to make them effective.

Different memory techniques can be used for different situations such as:

  • Learning a foreign language
  • Remembering lists and long numbers
  • Remembering information for exams
  • Remembering people’s names
  • Keeping knowledge in your short term memory
  • Remembering structured information
  • Some of the methods I’ve managed to find are the following:

The Link and Story Methods for remembering a simple list.

The Link Method is one of the easiest mnemonic techniques available. It’s probably the most basic memory technique and is easy to understand and use. It works by coding information to be remembered into images and then linking these images together.

The Story Method is very similar and links images together into a story. Events are thus kept in a logical order and therefore improve your ability to remember information if you forget the sequence of images.

Both techniques are very simple to learn, however they are both a little unreliable because it’s easy to confuse the order of images or forget images from a sequence.

The Number / Rhyme Mnemonic for remembering simple ordered lists.

This technique is a very effective method of remembering lists. It works by ‘pegging’ the things to be remembered to images rhyming with the numbers 0 – 9.

By driving the associations with numbers you have a good starting point in reconstructing the images, you are aware if information is missing, and you can pick up and continue the sequence from anywhere within the list.

The Number / Shape Mnemonic for remembering simple ordered lists.

This is very similar to the Number / Rhyme system and is a very effective method of remembering a list in a specific order. It works by linking things to be remembered with images representing the numbers 0 – 9.

By using it in conjunction with the Number / Rhyme system, you can build powerful images that can make very effective mnemonics.

The Alphabet Technique for remembering medium length lists.

This technique links the items to be remembered with images of the letters A – Z. This allows you to remember a medium length list in the correct order. By attaching the items to be remembered to letters of the alphabet, you know if you’ve forgotten anything, and know the cues to use to trigger their recall.

The Journey System for remembering long lists.

This is a powerful, effective method of remembering lists of information, by imagining images and events at stops on a journey. A list remembered using this technique is easy to distinguish from other lists because each journey has distinct locations.

To be able to use this technique you have to spend some time in preparing journeys clearly in your mind. The longer the journey, the longer the list you can remember.

The Roman Room System for remembering grouped information.

This technique is similar to the Journey method except it works by associating images to objects in a room that you know. This is most effective for storing lists of unlinked information whereas the Journey method is better for storing lists of ordered items.

You can use as many rooms as you like with different types of room obviously having different contents to associate with.

The Major System for remembering very long numbers.

This system works by linking numbers to consonants, and then by linking these into words. By using the images these words create, and linking them together with the Journey system, large amounts of information can be accurately memorised.

This system takes a lot of effort to master, but is very powerful once you have. Apparently a lot of stage performers who can remember seemingly unlimited amounts of information, use this technique.

Concept Maps for remembering structured information.

These help to lay out the structure of a topic as a map that you can easily remember. You can then see the map in your mind and give yourself cues to recall the appropriate information. You can make this information easier to remember if you also associate it with memorable images.

Imagine how much more effective your studying will be with a powerful memory. You need to do everything possible to make sure your memory is as good as it can be, and it’s great to know that there are ways that you can achieve this.