Tips and Tricks for Improving Your Memory

Sometimes you study for days on end and when it comes time to take a test, you do not remember a thing that you studied. If this has ever happened to you, it might be helpful to know some ways to improve your memory. Many students find memory games and mnemonic devices to be helpful when it comes to remembering information. While every strategy may not work for you, chances are at least one will be the key to remembering the information you need to know for your next test.

Strategies for Memorizing Information

Everyone learns a little differently. Next time you are trying to remember important information, try one of the following strategies and see if more information sticks:

  • Set the information to a popular tune. For example, sing the elements of the Periodic table to the tune of “Old MacDonald had a Farm.”
  • Color code your notes, using different colors of highlighter to set apart different types of information.
  • Draw picture or create diagram to give you a visual of the information. When it comes time to use the information, you will be able to see the picture in your head.
  • Make up a joke or a funny quote related to the information you are learning.
  • Connect it to something else you know.

Playing Memory Games

Memory games are games designed to jog your memory. The easiest way to play a memory game is to create flash cards. You can create flash cards in multiple ways:

  • Create sets, writing key terms on one set of flash cards and definitions on the other, then try to match them up.
  • Write a key term on one side of the flash card and write the definition on the other side. Practice trying to define the key terms or guess the term that matches the definition.
  • Replace either the key term or the definition with a picture representing it to help jog your memory.

Use your flash cards to play short memory games. Time yourself to see how many flash cards you can match up or how many terms you can define in a minute, two minutes or five minutes or have a friend hold up flash cards and quiz you on them.

Using Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are another trick you can use to improve your memory. Typically, a mnemonic device is a phrase or rhyme designed to help you remember. A few types of mnemonic devices include:

Acronyms: Acronyms are created using the first letters of words in a list. For example, ROY G BIV stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the colors of the rainbow. PEMDAS stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, showing how to solve a problem using the order of operations.

Acrostics: For example, “Every Good Boy Does Fine” helps remember the notes on a treble clef (EGBDF) and “King Phillip Could Only Find Green Socks” stands for kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Rhymes: Rhymes are short phrases designed to help you remember key information. For example, “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” or “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November…”

Improving Your Memory

Keep in mind that not every memory device will work for you. Some people cannot remember acrostics, while others have trouble singing something to the tune of a song. The trick is to try multiple memory devices and see which one works best for you. For really tricky information, you may need to combine a few tricks, coming up with an acronym, a song and drawing a picture to help you remember.

Suggested Activities
  1. Come up with a mnemonic device to help you remember the three types of mnemonic devices.
  2. Try using at least two strategies presented in the passage to help remember the information from the passage.
  3. Create a set of flash cards for an upcoming test and play a game with them.

Discussion Questions
  1. Do you know any other popular acrostics, acronyms or rhymes?
  2. Which strategies in presented In the passage have you tried before? Did they work?
  3. Which strategy from the passage do you think would work best for you?