Advanced Memory Techniques


Lets start easy.

Forget where you put your keys? Right. From now on, what you need to do is when you put your keys downlink them to where you are putting them. So, if you put them down on the sofa enlarge those keys to a huge size, and imagine them changing into a person, who looks like a key. Give him a name. Next time you will know where they are. What happens if you put them down in lots of different places – how will you know where you are up to? Well, the chances are that you will not have this confusion, it is quite amazing. However, at least you will know the places where to look first.

What about directions?

For directions, you need to make sure that you listen for key points on routes that people might be giving you. Use the basic number systems for instructions like ‘3rd on the left’ but wherever possible ask for specific landmarks. Left and right are often a problem too as they abstract ideas. However, attaching a real item in place of left and right is a solution. For example, instead of Left have Lion. Rabbit instead of Right. This means that for the example above you could have a tree being eaten by Lion. If there was a pub – the black horse – then a black horse could be introduced into the image. As you create the various directions as images, you link them together in story form.

Telephone numbers

Often a thing which is tricky to hold down. However, using your memory systems should make it easier. Firstly, get a clear image of the person whose number it is fixed clearly in your head. Then look at the number. Which is the best system?

Personally, I find using the letters system the best and break the number down into pairs. Then I use the story system to link those pairs, although I make sure I do not make it a circular story! Equally, you can attach address information in the same way. Picture what the name of the road would look like. I live in Bawns Lane, - Bawns sounds like Born, so I would have a baby being born in the middle of a lane. My house number is 32, which is the letters system is a man. So a man is having a baby in the middle of a lane! Not a pretty thought but easy to remember.

Dates of history...

can be remembered in a similar way using the letters system. Break the number down into two groups of two, or else keep it as a 4 digit number (unless it is below 1000 of course!) Create your object from this to remember, and then link it to the key event in history. While I was in college we were called on to learn for an exam 30 dates. I have number dyslexia, also called dyscalculia. How could I remember such things, they were meaningless? For weeks before the exam, all my friends had sticky notes all over their rooms with the dates and key events on.

I knew from experience that such would not work for me. It was two nights before the exam I finally sat down and focussed on the information. An hour later I had the lot. It does seem at the time to take a long time, but if you were to compare the accumulative time that most people spend on rote learning, revision, and checking, the systems are much faster - you also retain information for longer.

It is a useful point to make however that if you are needing to learn a lot of dates, then it is also wise to learn them as you would any other list and make sure that they are organized. Think of it as a shopping list where you also memorize the best-before date as well. This will enable you to revise your list accurately whether or not you are near your source material – in fact this is crucial for learning techniques I will discuss next.


When you have the right techniques, studying actually becomes fun. You need to be aware that memorizing as you read seems to be a slower process than the traditional way of reading, take notes, analyze, learn. But the ACCUMULATIVE time is far shorter, and this should be kept in mind. Following is the suggestion for more􀀀
effective studying.

Overview: Take a moment to read the contents list. Give yourself time to form an opinion of what might be in the contents of those chapters. What questions do the titles raise? Next, read through all the subheadings and continue to form your thoughts. Also at this stage create links to any information that you are already aware of, even if it is a completely different subject or topic. This will give you links to areas that you are already familiar with. It is not memorizing as such but you are creating a mental environment where you can build information bridges later.

The overview stage is very important. It is a little like when you are traveling some distance and would need a map to work from. You don’t just set out but instead look where you are going, create reference points along the way and understand your route. A study is not like reading a novel in that novel writing is about unveiling a hidden plot for pleasure: an academic work is communicating a concept by careful explanation using preceding argument or explanation to get to a final point.

To know the final point is therefore preferable.

From this overview stage you can now begin to build your virtual mindmap. Put in the key central area, and position in your virtual world areas of the town that you will need in which to store the information. It may take a couple of study sessions to get to this stage, but it is worth it.

Next is how you study the text itself and keep your interest at a maximum. An effective way is titling. As you create your images from the headings and subheadings, you need to connect to the text itself. To do this, for each paragraph find a word or phrase from that paragraph that you feel best summarises the text around it. This is your key thought and you attach it in the correct place in your mindmap-. Create a mental picture. For example, say the phrase you were trying to remember was ‘the medium is the message’; I would imagine 3 men stood before me, one is short, one is medium sized, one is tall, and the middle medium sized on is giving me a letter. You will find that when you recall it later you will be able to bring forth the main thrust of the idea.

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