Memory and understanding are essential to learning and academic achievement. During exams, for example, instant recall of understood and learned information is critical.
Use Mnemonic techniques such as First Letter Mnemonics and The Method of Loci to help recall specific, detailed information during exams.
First Letter Mnemonics
This strategy involves the use of first letters in a list of information. It is useful when multiple pieces of information are presented in a list or sequence. First Letter mnemonics can be accomplished in two ways:
e.g., an acronym and story acrostic for three trigonometry functions (S=O/H, C=A/H, T=O/A)
Alternatively, use the acronym "SOHCAHTOA" (pronounced "soak a toe a") to remember which function to use when calculating the size of the angle given the sides provided.
This is one of the oldest recorded strategies and a powerful memory and recall tool because is uses sound, sight, and movement to associate what you are learning with things you already know (e.g., a location in a room). It is appropriate for information presented in a list, such as sequences, steps, processes, events, stages, and cycles.
e.g., To remember the eight steps in the accounting cycle, you could use the Method of Loci by associating each step with a location in a room:
|Steps in accounting cycle||Location in room||Association|
|1. Analyze transactions||book||We must analyze the contents of the book|
|2. Journalize||newspaper||Edmonton Journal|
|3. Post||pillar||Pillar is like a post|
|4. Unadjusted trial balance||coat rack||Trial balance of coat on rack|
|5. Make adjustments||chair||Adjust the height of seat|
|6. Balance (trial)||sit on the chair||After adjustment, try balancing on chair|
|7. Financial statements||computer||Type statements|
|8. Close the books||binder||Close the binder|
Steps to the Method of Loci:
- Choose a familiar room and begin to make associations between objects/locations in the room and the information you need to know. In the example above, we chose a home office. Because the first step in the accounting cycle was "Analyze transactions," we chose a book as the first object/location in the room. The association that we used to remember the step was, "We must analyze the contents of the book."
- Choose another object/location in close proximity to the book and find a way to associate it to the second step in the accounting cycle. Since the Edmonton Journal was lying next to the book, we chose it to remember the second step, "Journalize."
- Continue in the same direction around the room for easiest recall.
- During an exam, first picture the room in your mind, visualize the objects/locations, and then recall the associations you made.