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When I get time, I listen to music, or read books. If any is left, I blog!

Sunday 12 March 2006

Mnemonic - It is All Yours!

The word Mnemonic comes from Mnemosyne, a character in Greek mythology personifying unfailing memory.

Mnemonic employs a variety of unique coding technique to strengthen memory. It is different from the age old method of repeated rehearsals, and is comparatively far more efficient. In Mnemonic, there is no theoretical "right" or "wrong". The idea is to grab the concept, and adapt it to match your requirements. This is because needs and styles vary with individuals. Hence rely on the situation and one’s mental attributes, and try to be creative!

When we adopt Mnemonic, we are in fact probing effective methods to capture and retain vital information for long duration. No method will be effective, till you feel a real need to memorize. You should also understand the meaning of the information that you wish to capture. Only if you process the information right, will remembering be easy.

Mnemonic demands extra effort and time. Treat it as an investment. In the long run, it pays back by way of improved memory.

Let us now look at a few popular Mnemonic Tools:
  1. Rhymes & Music  
  2. Acronyms & Acrostics  
  3. Links & Locations  
  4. Peg-words  
  5. PQ4R  
  6. Others
The universal appeal of mnemonic lies in its flexibility of usage. You are free to use any tool, individually or collectively, adapting it to your taste and preference. Bear in mind the following steps:-
  1. Convert information into mental image.
  2. Focus on both the meaning and its relevance.
  3. Associate new information with what you already know.
  4. Space out learning sessions, particularly verbal ones.
  5. Split, Shorten, Substitute, Sing, Group, Cannibalize.

Information set to a known Rhythm or Music helps you to remember. Grouping it in a rhymed verse is also popular. Have you not heard of this verse, which captures the number of days in the 12 months?

"Thirty days of September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one,
Leaving just February alone,
To Have eight and a score
Till it leaps a day more."


An Acronym is a new word formed from the first letters of another group of words. Some examples are: 

Take It Easy  (TIE)
As Soon As Possible  (ASAP)
Vital Information Under Siege  (VIRUS)


It is similar to Acronyms. But instead of coining a new word, it forms an easy-to-remember sentence from the first letters in a group of words. You need an Acrostic, to remember a list of items in a specific order.

Let us see how an Acrostic makes it easy to memorize the nine planets in our solar system, starting with the planet nearest to the Sun and ending with the farthest. The age-old method of remembering through repeated rehearsal has its limitations. Even if you succeed, you may not retain it in memory forever. But have no such fears. The nine planets, in the order of their distances from the Sun are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Now, use the first letters of each of the planets (M,V,E,M.J,S,U,N & P) to form a catchy sentence like:

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles.

How many times did you have to rehearse? Do you think it is likely to fade away from memory?

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