Tag Archives: mnemonics

Memory Skills Fix Your Study Ills


Memory FailDear Study Prof,

Help! How can I fix my awful memory? I read stuff for class and immediately forget what I just read. I study, but nothing seems to stick. I just forgot who I was writing this email to.


Amy Neesha*

Dear Amy,

Barring any recent head trauma, I feel pretty safe in saying–no offense–you are W.R.O.N.G., wrong! I call “foul!” You have unfairly maligned your memory. No doubt it sulks in some moldy corner of your cranium awaiting an apology that will–let’s face it–probably never come.

Amy, Amy, Amy, *sigh*; you’ve just forgotten how great your memory actually is (isn’t life just chock full o’ little ironies?). Your memory is scary powerful, and I can prove it.  Continue reading Memory Skills Fix Your Study Ills

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Iron New Information Into Your Brain


Did you ever try to iron a shirt with a cold iron? Could you get that shirt ironed without the heat? Sure, but it would take for-freakin-ever! Ironing a nice fold into a shirt is oh-so-much faster when you’ve got HEAT.

Trying to learn stuff by going over it again and again is about as effective as ironing with a cold iron. You can do it, but it’s sloooooow and it’s a LOT of work. Getting memories ironed into your brain is much easier if you know how to Bring The Heat! Continue reading Iron New Information Into Your Brain

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Top Two Ways to Nab New Knowledge


What do the experts say are the top two ways we store knowledge?

Learners acquire and store knowledge in two primary ways: linguistic (by reading or hearing lectures), and nonlinguistic (through visual imagery, kinesthetic or whole-body modes, and so forth). The more students use both systems of representing knowledge, the better they are able to think about and recall what they have learned (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). -bolding mine

How can you turn your readings or the lectures you listen to into nonlinguistic forms? Try these…

  1. Take excellent notes that use lots of visuals. Get pro-active while you learn!
  2. Stand up and walk around while you go over your notes. Mime it for an imaginary audience. (Shut the door first, or your roommates will be grabbing some interesting video for snapchat.)
  3. Make up mnemonics; visual (and audio, and kinesthetic, and olfactory) imagery applied to memory.

Use both linguistic and nonlinguistic methods to nail down new knowledge, and make your learning life much more manageable.

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

Habit Forming by Repetition Illustrated


Here’s a great picture of exactly how we achieve our goals through repeated actions.  We become what we repeatedly do.

This is a time-lapse of a Japanese group that walked the same path over and over. After several days they had worn a path in the grass. Consider how long it will take for the path to grow over once they stop walking. Weeks? Months? Once the path is sufficiently well-trodden, it will remain for a long, long time. As you are cultivating new habits, frequent repetition is the key to changing an action into a habit.

In the same way weaning yourself from a bad habit is not an overnight proposition. It will take time and effort to keep yourself from travelling the well-worn path long enough for it to grow over and disappear.

The lesson also applies to creating memories, although this illustration would represent brute-force repetition. Easier: use mnemonics to create a stronger path initially. That will cut down on the number of repetitions you’ll need to make that memory rock solid.

Best Study Schedule


Rank these professions in order of average IQ, highest to lowest (just give it your best taxi_empire_state_buildingguess).

  • Neurosurgeon
  • Nuclear physicist
  • Professor of Law
  • New York cab driver

Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking. There are probably some real idiots in those first three professions, and there are probably some certifiable egg-heads driving cabs. But that ain’t the way to bet.

Now rank them again, this time in order of which will know the best route from Central Park to LaGuardia at 5pm on a Friday afternoon.

This time, I’m betting on the cabbie.

Even your relative dullards in the world of cab-driving have Continue reading Best Study Schedule

© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.

The Easy Way to Learn New Vocabulary


Ever had a car wreck? Any big, emotional, unusual event such as a car wreck, our high car-between-boat-and-landschool graduation, or our first kiss, is easily memorable. No notes. No flash cards. It just sticks!

“Car wreck” memories stick because they are emotional and unusual.  They are also multi-sensory.  So how do we take something as boring as vocabulary (or anatomy, or chemistry, or [fill in your own memory bugaboo here] and make it multi-sensory, unusual, and emotional?

It’s actually very easy!  Continue reading The Easy Way to Learn New Vocabulary

Memory Game to Help Kids (or Adults) With Mnemonics


Here’s a quick game that you can teach your kids to help them learn to apply mnemonics and also build a foundation for later study skills.  Kids may not be too keen on studying, but if it’s fun they’ll do it all day long. My kids and I usually play this while driving.

Three Story

One person is the storyteller. Their job is to tell a (very short) story that uses three words provided by the other participants. Any three words will do; we like to use nouns or verbs, the stranger the better. For example, “gorilla, ball gown, light saber.”

The storyteller tells a short story (usually under two minutes long) using all three words. Continue reading Memory Game to Help Kids (or Adults) With Mnemonics

Memorizing Complex Images and Charts


No matter what you are memorizing, mnemonic strategies will make the process easier and less time consuming. It may take more time to memorize the info initially, but you will more than make up for it by having to do less review later on!

The mnemonic process may not be so obvious when you are trying to memorize visuals, so let’s try it with a very complex chart that someone in anatomy or pre-med might have to memorize.

Click for full-size image. Public Domain image from Wikimedia Commons
Click for full-size image. Public Domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading Memorizing Complex Images and Charts