Michael Milone, PhD
Educational Consultant, Research Psychologist, and Writer
There are two parts to memorizing something: getting it into your brain and then getting it out again. Surprisingly, the first part is relatively easy. Your brain can hold a lot of information. Here are eight quick tips to help you out:
- Don’t try to memorize too much at one time. Instead, break it up into parts. For instance, if you’re trying to memorize a poem, don’t do the whole thing at once. Memorize one stanza at a time.
- Reformat your information. Remembering 10 numbers in a sequence is hard (3 0 7 5 5 5 8 2 9 4). But remembering 10 numbers in telephone format is a lot easier (307-555-8294).
- Remember just the critical information. If you’re doing a presentation about constellations, you don’t have to remember every one of them. Find out what your teacher expects for the presentation and focus on those aspects.
- Repetition over time is the most important method. Don’t cram; the information won’t stick. Repeat the information frequently over time.
- Write things down and say them out loud. When you use these two strategies, think about what you’re trying to remember.
- Mnemonics work for some people. This is the strategy where you associate information with something else. One of the classics is the mnemonic for the planets: “My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets”: Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
- Add a tune to what you’re memorizing. The best example is the alphabet song, which you probably learned when you were a kid. Can you believe you remembered all 26 letters at that age?
- Unlearn incorrect information by try recalling it with a different cue. If you’re constantly misspelling “weird” as “wierd,” you can always get it right if you remember it as “We are weird.” The we will help you spell it correctly.
For more quick homework and studying advice, check out both our Test Prep—Ask the Experts and Majors and Academics—Ask The Experts sections.