Memorizing facts doesn't always lead to long-term memory of those facts. Memorization requires an active process of grouping small clusters of data into larger clusters of data to make remembering easier. People tend to remember interconnected events that hold meaning and value. Each event triggers the memory of another connected event. Therefore, building long-term memories requires an active attempt to create connections.
Making connections helps you to retain more information and to recall it more easily. The brain stores information as moving nerve impulses. According to Steven Dutch, a professor of natural and applied sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, the brain makes a copy of any information currently accessed. The brain makes additional copies each time you access a piece of information. When memorizing information, find a way to put the information into context. Don't simply memorize the capital of a state in a list of information, look at a map, point to the capital and recall its name.
Using an Acrostic
Mnemonics refers to the various devices or formulas used to aid memory. One such device is called an acrostic, which is a sentence or phrase created as a memory aid. Usually, the first letter of each word in an acrostic acts as a memory clue. For example, in music, the phrase "Every Good Boy Does Fine" gives the names of the notes for each line in the treble clef staff. By remembering the phrase and using the first letter of each word, you can identify the names of the notes. A good acrostic provides a relevant and memorable phrase. The acrostic "My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies" provides a way to remember the order of planets in our solar system -- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
Creating Memorable Acronyms
Using acronyms is another mnemonic device for quickly remembering information. Each letter in an acronym represents the first word in a list of items. For example, the word FANBOYS provides an acronym device to memorize the list of coordinating conjunctions: "for," "and," "nor," "but," "or," "yet" and "so." The best acronyms use a set of easy to remember words or phrases. You don't need to use real words to create acronyms, as long as you can remember the acronym.
The key to developing a good memory involves actively paying attention and making information relevant. An article on the Cuesta College website titled "Memory Tips and Test Taking Strategies" recommends using a three-step process to recall and memorize information -- select, remember and review. During the selection process, you need to identify the specific information you want to remember. Select information to remember by examining your notes, studying handouts and reading about the subject. Next, remember the information by visualizing, associating, applying, repeating or using other techniques like mnemonic devices. Applying the information involves using it in a practical way. For example, don't just memorize the word for blue in a foreign language, point at everything around you that is blue and repeat the word.
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