Memorization Strategies

Memorization Strategies

  • Do you have a hard time memorizing and remembering information for tests?

  • Do the things you’ve memorized seem to get mixed up in your head?

  • Do you wish you had better strategies to help you memorize and remember information?

  • Do you sometimes feel the information you need is there, but that you just can’t get to it?

If you answered yes to any of the above, the memorization strategies presented here are sure to help you.

Whether you want to remember facts for a test or the name of someone you just met, remembering information is a skill that can be developed.

You can improve your memory with just a few simple strategies!

Strategies that Work

Use all of your senses

The more senses you involve in the learning process, the more likely you are to remember information. For example, to memorize a vocabulary word, formula, or equation, look at it, close your eyes, and try to see it in your mind. Then say it out loud and write it down.

By looking at it, saying it, and writing it down, you are using your visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses.

Look for logical connections

Here are a couple of examples:

To remember that Homer wrote The Odyssey, just think, “Homer is an odd name.”

To remember that all three angles of an acute triangle must be less than 90 degrees, think “When you’re over 90, you’re not cute anymore.”

To remember the light spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) order, think “ROY G BIV”.

Create unforgettable images

Take the information you’re trying to remember and create a crazy, memorable picture in your mind.

For example, to remember that the explorer Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire, imagine a pizza covering up and ink spot. To remember that Pearl Buck wrote The Good Earth, picture a male deer with a large pearl on its nose pawing at the earth.

Create silly sentences

Use the first letter of the word you want to remember to make up a silly, ridiculous sentence. For example, to remember the names of the eight planets in order (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) make up a silly sentence like this one: “My very elegant mother juggled seven ugly neckties.”

Review often

Review is the key to remembering anything. When you review, you move information from your short-term memory into you long-term memory.

When you have something to memorize, concentrate on learning it, take a break, then go back and review it. Keep reviewing until you know it.

Try this little memory test

Get a piece of paper and a pencil. Give yourself 15 seconds to memorize the twelve items below. Then write down as many as you can remember.




Hot Dog









Memorization Tips

  • Use 3 x 5 cards to memorize facts, formulas, and lists. Take these cards with you and go over them when you have a few extra minutes (e.g., waiting for a ride, standing in line).

  • Record yourself reciting what you need to remember. Listen to the recording while you do chores, exercise, get ready for bed, etc.

  • Make up rhymes to help you remember information (e.g., “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” “30 days hath September…”).

  • Before you go to sleep, think about what you want to remember. Your brain will commit it to memory while you sleep.

  • Immerse yourself. If you are studying the revolutionary war, imagine yourself as a soldier, and try to visualize the experiences you would have.

To remember a person’s name, once you’ve been introduced, use that person’s name in the conversation (e.g., “nice to meet you, John.”).

Group and Organize Info

The human brain likes order. Our brains, therefore, remember information better when it’s grouped and organized.

The two most common ways to group and organize information are outlining and mapping.

  • Outlining – when outlining information, first identify the main ideas. Then list supporting facts and ideas under each main idea.

  • Mapping – to map information, put the main idea in a circle and then draw lines to circles that contain more detailed information.

Memory Test (from above)

Most people will remember 5 or 6 of the items on the list. But when people group theses same items into categories (as they are below), the items are easier to remember, and scores are generally much higher.

         Ways to travel – boat, train, car, trolley

         Picnic items – hot dog, fruit, mustard, ants

         Office items – pencil, phone, ruler, chair

Grouping makes things easier to remember.

In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was the goddess of memory. This is why various memory aids are called mnemonic devices.