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Skills to Improve Your Memory

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 24 Dec 2012 |
Skills To Improve Your Memory

One of the key things in learning a new subject is being able to remember things, and sometimes there seems to be so much to remember, especially as exams are looming. Try a few of these skills, hints and tips, and before long remembering things will be as piece of… a piece of… just a minute… a piece of cake!


Mnemonics are ways of remembering lists of things in order, sets of information or spellings, and can be poems, rhymes, songs, sentences, and acronyms.

To remember the order of things:

  • Acronyms – Roy G Biv (the colours in the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
  • Sentences – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (the musical notes on the treble clef lines – EGBDF) or King Penguins Congregate On Frozen Ground Sometimes (the classifications in zoology – Kingdom; Phylum; Class; Order; Family; Genus; Species)
  • Songs – some children learned the alphabet by singing it to the tune of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – try seeing what else could fit to the same tune.

To remember spellings:

  • Sentence – Red Haired Youths Tickle Hairy Maggots (the spelling of ‘rhythm’)
  • Sentence – Think of PIE then PIEce of pie (the spelling of ‘piece’)

To remember useful information:

Rhyme (the number of days in the month)

Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February alone
Which has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year


Being able to concentrate makes it much easier to learn and remember things – finding somewhere quiet without distractions can help to commit them to memory.

Reading Out Loud

Reading things aloud make things stick in the memory more than just reading them silently.

Writing it Down

Rewriting notes, whether in full or as bullet points, can make things clearer and easier to remember.


For some people, listening helps to remember things – read out loud and record, then listen as many times as needed.

Adding Rhythm, Melody and Rhyme

Creating patterns and rhythms helps people to remember things, and makes learning more fun. Many biology students rely on the ‘Biochemists Songbook’ to learn complicated biochemical pathways.

Making Connections

Connecting images with things to remember can help the memory – and making them funny or exaggerated might make it easier. For example, to remember the French for poster (affiche), think of a poster with a giant fish on it.

Using a Route

This is an extension to making connections, and is useful for learning something long, like a speech or presentation. Think of a familiar route – the walk to work, the drive to the shops – and identify some landmarks along the route. Link a piece of information to each landmark. As an example, for a talk about avoiding junk food and healthy eating for children, imagine a pile of junk food in the bin outside the house, then an apple on top of the post box, a tub of yogurt in the phone box, and so on – the more absurd it is, the easier it will be to remember.

Keep Repeating

Repeating things over (and over and over) again helps them stick in the memory.

Keep Positive

Believe that it is possible and don’t get defeated – not all the techniques work for everyone, but there will be one that works for you.

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