Memorisation made easy

The art of memorisation is referred to as mnemonics. Mnem-onics are methods for remembering information that is otherwise quite difficult to recall. A very simple example of a mnemonic is the ‘30 days hath September’ rhyme. The basic principle of mnemonics is to use as many of the best functions of the human brain as possible to code information. There are many suggestions on how to ma-ke memorisation easier but the best methods are those that the individual creates. Visual learners are most likely to benefit from mne-monics but an auditory learner can learn to adjust mnemonics to his learning style by substituting auditory cues. The way a person learns affects the sort of mnemonics they should consider using. Remember, too, no one uses one style exclusively. There is usually significant overlap in learning styles. Most mnemonic devices utilise visual images to aid memory.

Key points

Use positive, pleasant images Vivid, colourful images are easier to remember Jot down every diagram, map or symbol written on the board by the instructor Even with printed course notes in front of them, visual learners still benefit from written information of their own, symbols, diagrams, et cetera. Auditory learners relate most effectively to the spoken word. They will listen intently to a lecture, then rely on printed notes or their own notes. Often times, summaries of ideas developed in a book or a series of lectures will help the auditory learner understand the material. Readily understanding material is essential to learning and remembering. Another excellent manner for the auditory learner to remember is to teach the material to someone else. As passive learners, we remember only 10 per cent of what we read, 20 per cent of what we hear, and 30 per cent of what we see. When you teach someone else, you retain 70 per cent of what you teach. When you tell and show someone you retain 90 per cent of what you say and do!

A few techniques

Memorisation begins with the simple act of taking notes on what you are hearing in class or reading in the text. Next you must

• rewrite and organise notes

• create index cards on key terms or definitions, and

• review and recite frequently

A common mnemonic acronym (words created by the letters of a series of words) is VIBGYOR which helps science students remember the coloUrs of the visible spectrum — Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red. IPMAT helps Biology students remember the stages of cell division — Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telephase. Create your own examples, relating difficult material to your own experiences, thus facilitating understanding and remembering.

Think about what you are learning and relate it to whatever is important to you — how does it relate to your past, present and future?

Concentrate on developing the bigger picture — the sequence of ideas — which also help to better understand material. Readily understanding material is essential to learning and remembering.