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Studying & Test Taking

Mnemonic Devices

A mnemonic device is a memory technique that can help you increase your ability to recall and retain information. Using a mnemonic device helps you to create an information shortcut in your mind to help you pull up information quickly.

For example, if you've ever sung the Alphabet Song to help you remember how to sort items in alphabetic order, then you're already familiar with some mnemonic approaches to memorization—you can use these tips to your advantage when studying for tests, too!

How to Use Mnemonic Devices to Study

Watch this video to learn a few different mnemonic devices you could use during your next study session.

This video covers a technique called the Mind Palace in great depth, but you can fast forward to the 3:37 minute mark to learn some popular mnemonic devices too.

Tips for Studying with Mnemonic Devices

  • Chunk information: Break down complex information into smaller pieces to help you memorize. For example, if you created a new and difficult password for an account, it would be hard to remember the entire string. If you break it down into pieces—and memorize each piece—it becomes much more manageable. So, P3850tf21 would become: [P38] [50] [tf] [21].
  • Sing it Out: Music is a great memory tool—pick your favourite song, and change the lyrics to a concept or idea you need to remember for a test.
  • Create an acronym: Acronyms use a simple formula of a letter to represent each word or phrase that needs to be remembered (e.g. NBA = National Basketball Association.
  • Create an acrostic: Acrostics use the same concept as acronyms, but you create a sentence to help you recall information (e.g. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = The order of operations in algebra [Parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction]).