Some Essential Memory Skills : Article 4 part 2
Your Pathway to a Better Memory
Obviously, being able to memorize material such as we just reviewed, and being able to do so in a hurry, is a significant advantage when it comes to preparing for tests. It doesn’t hurt when you need to master-key points from your notes before writing a paper, either.
You can improve your memory just about instantly, and this chapter’s going to show you exactly how. There are three main methods for memory improvement, and
although they may take some time to perfect, they don’t take much time at all to learn. And they can deliver results so quickly they’ll surprise you.
What follows is a condensed summary of some basic memory techniques that have been helping students, speakers, business people and stage performers for centuries. For a more in-depth review of the subject, take a look at my book, Improve Your Memory, available at your local bookstore, or Harry Lorayne‘s and Jerry Lucas‘s The Memory Book, which you can probably find at your local library. Both of these go into far greater detail than I can here but the name of the game at this point is speed, right?
Three basic methods for memory improvement
Replacement / Exaggeration
These three methods may have fancy-sounding names, but the ideas behind them are extremely simple. No special aptitude, intelligence or training is required to use them and to dramatically increase your efficiency when it comes to studying. We’ll look at each of the techniques in detail and you’ll see how powerful a few very straightforward ideas can be when it comes to memory improvement.
By the way, there is a fourth and extremely powerful method, one that combines the basics of all three of the techniques you’re about to discover. We’ll deal with that strategy, which I call Power Listing, in the next chapter.
If You have a Test Now…
You’re about to learn some powerful techniques for improving your memory, and you should know ahead of time
that there’s a certain amount of self-testing involved in mastering these ideas. This self-testing process won’t take you that long, but if you are under severe time pressure in preparing for a test if the test is, say, tomorrow you will probably want to review all the basic principles covered in this chapter, skip the testing sections, then proceed to Chapter 8 to get some helpful advice on additional ideas you can use to improve your memory instantly.
You’ll also want to review the advice on skimming first, and reading for detail later, that appears in Chapter 5.
If you have more than a few days to prepare for your test, however, then you should certainly follow all the advice in the following two chapters, and that includes working with the self-test material.
The three basic methods you’re about to learn are essentially the same as those offered by the high-priced “ultra-memory” courses you’ve probably seen on television commercials late at night. Weren’t you a little bit curious about how people could develop those high-powered memory techniques those courses promised? Well, now you don’t have to spend $150 to find out.
The three ideas are likely to have greater impact on increasing your personal efficiency when it comes to test preparation than any other part of your study regimen. Don’t skip the tests and activities that follow! Review each item closely until you feel comfortable with it, and take breaks at each point you are directed to by the text.
The four notes that fall on the treble scale’s “open spaces” are F, A, C and E. Music students are taught to remember the word FACE when they first encounter the treble scale.
For right now, give yourself a reward. Take a mandatory break of at least 10 minutes before you proceed. Listen to a favorite song or enjoy a high-energy snack to celebrate your accomplishment! Then, return to master the next technique for memorization.
Replacement is simply the process of substituting a boring word or phrase with a more interesting one and using the second word to remind you of the first. If you need to remember the French word for lawyer, ”avocat” (pronounced AH-vo-CAH), you might replace it with the phrase “avocado.”
Exaggeration is the process whereby you connect the two ideas with something outlandish or oversized. Picture, let’s say, a nationally known lawyer from a famous criminal trial of recent date. Does anyone come to mind? (If not, I’ll assume you’ve been on Mars for the last few years, and ask you to pick a specific lawyer you know or a lawyer from a favorite crime drama.)
The person you pick must be a specific individual not an abstract embodiment of lawyers as a group. To use exaggeration to fuse the two ideas (“avocado” and “lawyer”), imagine that lawyer making the closing argument to a jury, picking up a foot-tall avocado and smashing it on top of his head. See the green goop trailing down on his suit.
When it comes time to remember the word for “lawyer,” you’ll recall that absurd image. And you’ll remember “avocado.” And your “natural” memory will kick in with “avocat.”
Replacement finding the interesting word or phrase that sounds enough like the boring one to make your “natural” memory kick inis a pretty basic technique, and there’s not much to it. In the following examples, you’ll see more instances of replacement in action
Exaggeration, on the other hand, can take many forms and merits a little fuller discussion here. (In most cases, when people can’t get memory systems to deliver results for them, it’s because they haven’t mastered the technique of exaggeration.) Take a look at this sentence:
“Some people don’t like to eat worms but I certainly do!”
If I told you that you had to memorize that sentence, word for word and recall it for an exam, would you be able to do that? Of course you would.
What exactly makes that sentence memorable? For one thing, it summons up a vivid, unforgettable image (eating worms). For another, that image is a bit nauseating. Finally, it reverses your expectations about the situation and creates an unexpected connection. (Who on earth would brag about liking to eat worms?) All three of those factors can be put to work in your efforts to turn your study material into specific images you can manipulate and recall easily.
A vivid, exaggerated, unforgettable image is one that has direct, immediate visual appeal. A five-inch-long, dangling, wriggling worm on the end of a fork is a vivid image. However, a sign that says “WORMS FOR SALE” is notit’s vague, undramatic, not exaggerated and not visually oriented. So you’re going to construct pictures that are based in one vivid, exaggerated picture at a time.
An image with exaggerated gut-level associations is one that plays on our natural human tendency to remember that which is striking on a visceral level. Once you’ve pictured yourself moving a forkfuls of those huge, wriggling worms toward your open mouth, then closing your mouth around the fork and actually chewing the worms, you’ve conjured up a situation you’re not soon likely to forget.
On the other hand, if you picture yourself pondering a can of worms on a supermarket shelf, you probably will
Welcome back! Assuming you are rested and ready to roll, you’re about to learn about one of the most powerful study techniques ever to come down the pike. Stick with it and follow all the instructions exactly as written. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
Numerical Sounds (Sounds and Digits?)
Seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? We associate the “ssssss” sound with the letter “S”but what sound do we associate with, say, the digit zero?
Unlikely as it may seem at first, there is a 10-digit phonetic “alphabet” tied to each of the numbers in our counting system. This alphabet makes it easy to remember even long-number sequences like this one:
Within the phonetic number alphabet you’re about to learn to put to your advantage, the digit zero does have a sound it makes a “ssssss” sound, just like the letter “S.” It also makes the related “zzzzzz” sound of the letter “Z.”
There are no vowels within this number system or rather, there are whatever vowels you want to incorporate. There’s no sound associated with the letters “H,” “W” or “Y,” either, so you can stick them in wherever you want when it’s time to form a word.