are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information,
especially in the form of lists like characteristics, steps, stages,
parts, phases, etc. We knew back in 1967 from a study by Gerald R. Miller
that mnemonics increased recall. He found that students who regularly
used mnemonic devices increased test scores up to 77%!
Many types of mnemonics exist and which type works best is limited
only by the imagination of each individual learner. The 9 basic types
of mnemonics presented in this handout include Music, Name, Expression/Word,
Model, Ode/Rhyme, Note Organization, Image, Connection, and Spelling
- Music Mnemonics
How many lyrics to songs do you remember? How did you come to remember
them? The same method you used to recall song lyrics also can work
just as well in academics. Music can used to help students recall
important details to main ideas and many learners have made songs
out of information when a list of items must be learned. Advertising
on radio and TV uses music to help potential customers remember
their products when shopping. With sufficient repetition of commercials,
advertisers have discovered that when shoppers see their product
in the stores that often the shopper will start reciting a oft repeated
phrases from the commercial or start singing the lyrics to the promotion
melody. The results has been increased sales of the product.
You can make a song or jingle using any type of music you choose
for any list of items. Music Mnemonics work best with long
lists. For example, some children learn the ABC's by singing the
"ABC" song. Other children learn all the states in alphabetical
order using the "50 Nifty United States" song.
- Name Mnemonics
In a Name Mnemonic, the 1st letter of each word in a list
of items is used to make a name of a person or thing. Sometimes,
the items can be rearranged to form a more recollectable name mnemonic.
ROY G. BIV = colors of the spectrum (Red, Orange,
Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.)
Pvt. Tim Hall = Essential amino acids (Phenylanine,
Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isolucine,
Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine.
- Expression or Word Mnemonic
This is by far the most popularly used mnemonic. To make an Expression
or Word mnemonic, the first letter of each item in a list is
arranged to form a phrase or word. Examples:
For physical laws dealing with gasses, try these:
Charles' Law: For a constant volume, pressure is directly
proportional to temperature.
The simple way to remember Chuck is if the tank's too hot, you're
blown into muck.
Henry's Law: The solubility of a gas increases with pressure.
To remember good old Hank, remember the bubbles in the shaken
Coke you drank.
Boyles' Law: At constant temperature, pressure is inversely
proportional to volume.
Boyle's law is best of all because it presses gasses awfully
In English, the 7 coordinating conjunctions are For, And,
Nor, But, Or, Yet, So = FANBOYS.
The order of operations for math is Parentheses,
Exponents, Multiply, Divide,
Add, and Subtract = Please Excuse
My Dear Aunt Sally.
categories in the classification of life are Kingdom,
Phylum, Class, Order,
Family, Genus, Species,
Variety = Kings Play Cards
On Fairly Good Soft Velvet.
For those who have to remember the order of color coding on electronic
resistors: Black, Blue, Red, Orange,
Yellow, Green, Brown, Violet, Gray,
White, Silver, Gold.
Bad Boys Rile Our
Young Girls, But Violet
Gives Welts (to) Silly
Bad Beer Rots Our
Young Guts But Vodka
Goes Well (in) Silver
Almost every anatomy class has to remember the eight small bones
in the wrist: Navicular, Lunate, Triquetrum,
Pisiform, Multongular (Greater), Multongular
(Lesser), Capitate, Hamate.
Never Lick Tilly's Popsicle, Mother
Might Come Home.
Create an Expression Mnemonic for remembering the order
of the planets from the sun outward: Mercury, Venus,
Earth, Mars, Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune,
- Model Mnemonics
In a Model Mnemonic, some type of representation is constructed
to help with understanding and recalling important information.
Examples include a circular sequence model, a pyramid model of
stages, a pie chart, and a 5-box sequence. Models should be used
in addition to words and lists because they make recall at test
time much easier. With a large model such as the Krebs Cycle, it
is easier to learn and remember if it is divided into quarters and
learned one quarter at a time; hence, the cross hairs.
- Ode or Rhyme Mnemonics
An Ode or Rhyme Mnemonic puts information in the form of
a poem. Examples include:
A commonly used Rhyme Mnemonic for the number of days in
each month is:
30 days hath September, April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31
Except February my dear son.
It has 28 and that is fine
But in Leap Year it has 29.
You'd probably prefer your doctor to know the difference between
cyanate and cyanide: Cyanate "I ate" and Cyanide
"I died." Cyanide is a little fatal.
Remember this one? In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
How is your spelling?
I before e except after c
or when sounding like a
in neighbor and weigh
Here is an easy way to remember the nerves: olfactory, optic, oculomotor,
trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, acoustic, glassopharyngeal,
vagus, spinal accessory and hypoglossal.
On Old Olympus' Towering Tops,
A Finn And German Viewed Some
- Note Organization Mnemonics
The way textbook and lecture notes are organized can inhibit learning
and recall or promote it. In the sense that the organization of
notes can promote recall, it is a memory device. Three examples
of organizing note formats that promote recall are as follows:
Notecards are an easy way to organize main ideas and relevant details
to be recalled. If main ideas are formatted into possible test questions,
notecards can give learners practice in seeing questions and recalling
answers as they must do on exams.
Outlines clearly separate main ideas from details. This helps organize
the information in the mind making it easier to remember.
I. PIAGET'S THEORY
A. Four Stages
3. Concrete Operations
4. Formal Operations
B. Definition of each stage
1. Sensorimotor means ........ etc.
The Cornell System is another way to use a Note Organization
Mnemonic to promote recall. A vertical line is drawn 3 inches
from the left margin of notebook paper. Main ideas or questions
from them are placed to the left of the line and details or answers
placed to the right.
The topic used here is from How To Study In College (3rd edition)
by Walter Pauk, pages 292 300.
- Image Mnemonics
The information in an Image Mnemonic is constructed in the
form of a picture that promotes recall of information when you need
it. The sillier the Image Mnemonic is, the easier it is to
recall the related information. These images may be mental or sketched
into text and lecture notes. Don't worry about your artistic ability.
As long as you know what your sketch means, Image Mnemonics
will help you learn and remember. Examples:
You can use an Image Mnemonic
to remember BAT (the depressant drugs mentioned above - Barbiturates,
Alcohol, and Tranquilizers). Visualize or sketch in your notes a
limp, depressed bat that took Barbiturates, Alcohol,
Picture meeting someone new at a party named John Horsley. Use
an Image Mnemonic to help you remember his name. Visualize
a horse sitting on a john: not pretty but effective in recall. No
example provided on this one.
is a numismatist? Visualize a new mist rolling onto a
beach from the ocean and beach is made of coins. Silly? Of
course, but sillyography makes it is easier to remember that a numismatist
is a coin collector.
How about using a bad joke to help you remember? Picture
two numismatists having a drink for "old dime's sake."
Corny? Yes, but cornography often makes things easier to remember.
- Connection Mnemonics
In this type of mnemonic, the information to be remembered is connected
to something already known. Examples include:
Remembering the direction of longitude and latitude is easier to
do when you realize that lines on a globe that run North and South
are long and that coincides with LONGitude. Another Connection
Mnemonic points out that there is an N in LONGitude
and an N in North. Latitude lines must run
east to west, then because there is no N in latitude.
Connection Mnemonic is related to sound. The 1st part of the word
latitude sounds like flat and flat runs horizontal
or East and West.
is an example of a spelling mnemonic: A principal
at a school is your pal, and a principle
you believe or follow is a rule.
Another commonly used Spelling Mnemonic is combined with
an Ode/Rhyme Mnemonic.
I before e except after c
or when sounding like a
in neighbor and weigh
A third example deals with the problems some learners have remembering
that there is an "a" in the middle of separate and not
an "e." A Spelling Mnemonic combined with an Image
Mnemonic may be used to spell the word sep rate using an exaggerated
To spell Mississippi, many learners combine a Rhythm Mnemonic
with a Spelling mnemonic: M-iss-iss-ipp-i.
Here are some more examples of spelling mnemonics:
Geography: George Edwards's
Old Grandma Rode A
Pig Home Yesterday.
Arithmetic: A Rat In
The House May Eat
The Ice Cream.
Saskatchewan: Ask At Chew An
with an S in front of it.
Take the 1st letter of each type of mnemonic listed
above and print them below on the line to help you remember
the 9 types.
Have a Mnemonics Party
Wanna' Practice? You become better at that which you practice. If you
practice not making mnemonics
Get some classmates or friends together and practice making mnemonics
using the lists provided below. Nine times out of 10 everyone gets a
side ache from laughing so hard before the exercise below is finished.
Using the items below, devise a mnemonic for remembering each piece
of information. Use any of the 9 types of mnemonics as a guide or combine
any of the types. Try making a mnemonic without changing the order and
then a few where you reorganize the items to fit your mnemonic.
- 9 characteristics that facilitate learning - Open-mindedness,
self-awareness, tolerance, alert mind, energy, ability to set goals,
willingness to take risks, self-discipline, and the capacity to value,
accept, and undergo change.
- Order of the planets from the sun out - Mercury, Venus, Earth,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune Pluto
- Going shopping - Eggs, milk, onions, butter, cucumbers, lettuce,
- Blooms 7 levels of thinking ability - recall, translation, interpretation,
application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation
- The royal houses on England - Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster,
York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor
- Body's excretory organs - Liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, intestines
- Reasons why reciting notes aloud increases memory - Gets you
involved, provides feedback on what you know, supplies motivation,
uses many senses in learning, and promotes concentration.
- 6 types of machines - lever, inclined plane, axle and wheel,
jackscrew, pulley, & gear.
- 6 ways to purify water - settling, filtration, coagulation, chlorination,
- Factors that affect water evaporation - temperature, area exposed,
wind, and humidity.
- How soil fertility is restored - rotating crops, adding fertilizer,
resting the soil, sweetening the soil, draining and irrigating, undoing
damaged or polluted soil.
- Major features of sole proprietorship - easy to start, can make
decisions quickly, no bosses, profits are not shared, losses are not
shared, and borrowing is limited.
- Four types of chemical reactions - synthesis, decomposition,
single-replacement, and double-replacement.
- Basic steps in the scientific method - state the problem, gather
information on the problem, form hypothesis, experiment to test hypothesis,
record data, analyze date, and draw conclusions.
- General properties of matter - mass, weight, volume, and density.
- Five parts of a deciduous forest - upper stratum, lower tree
stratum, shrub layer, ground layer, soil layer.
- Four Ocean zones - intertidal, near-shore, edge of continental
shelf, perpetual darkness
You are only limited by the restrictions that you place on your
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