As you’re reading this piece, allow us to take you back to a time not too long ago (though it just seems like yesterday): You’re walking up and down your usual stretch, or worse, sitting where you always are, around this time of the year. The exam is in less than a day and all you can think to yourself is, ‘Why Is This So Hard For Me To Recollect, No Matter How Hard I Try!’
Well.. the uncomfortable feeling of just thinking about this experience is daunting enough to make most of us feel irked at the thought of having to do it again – and that too, quite possibly for much larger pools of information. And we’ll be honest: while most of us know someone, who is the human version of a memoir, remembering every detail of every possible thing in life and academics alike – the rest of us aren’t blessed with this superpower. So, what do we do instead? We find quicker, smarter ways to make life easier.
Pronounced as ne-mo-niks, mnemonics have been around for almost as long as languages have, because essentially, a mnemonic device is any learning technique that helps us to retain and retrieve information in our memory. Most commonly found mnemonic devices use various short-forms, pictures, sentences or sounds to help us remember things quicker, faster and more efficiently – but the absolute best thing about mnemonics? You can make up your own!
Since the objective of mnemonic devices is to help you retain, but more importantly retrieve information you already know better, mnemonic devices can be universal (that is, applicable to anyone) or they can be personal (that is, sensible / applicable only to us as individuals). Also known as memory devices – in the context of human learning and memory – for anyone who hasn’t been able to follow this far, here are a few awesome mnemonic devices for you to learn so that you’ll never have to forget these facts, ever again!
- The Value of Pi
If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering ‘These numbers are SO random. I can’t remember beyond the first two digits’ – don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Just remember the sentence:
“Man, I need a large container of coffee”
Why? Each word in that sentence is exactly the number of letters as the value of Pi.
Don’t believe us? Look again:
Man – 3
I – 1
Need – 4
A – 1
Large – 5
Container – 9
Of – 2
Coffee – 6
Value of Pi – 3.1415926
In this process, did you notice that there is a comma after the word ‘Man’ in the sentence? That comma represents where your decimal point goes too!
Pretty cool, right? You can thank us later.
- The Solar System
We know it starts with Mercury… we know Earth is somewhere closer to the middle, but what about the order of the planets in our solar system, when taken in an increasing order of distance from the sun? While obviously no one is going to ask us this in our day to day life, this fact is the basis of a lot of other knowledge and information we are exposed to via different channels, every day! So… how do we remember this? With:
“My Very Elegant Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets.”
This statement stands for: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto – in that correct order.
But, wait a minute, since we decided to kick Pluto out of this sequence a while ago (Sorry, Pluto!) – we also have an upgraded version of the statement, which is:
“My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Noodles.”
There we go… much better than remembering random names of the planets, right?
- Classifications in Taxonomy
To all our science peeps who asked, “But what about us? How do we do this for more technical things?’ – We heard you and we have an answer for you too!
Struggling to remember the order of the classifications to be made in taxonomy? Here’s a quick mnemonic sentence to help you:
“Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach.”
What does this sentence represent? Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species, ranked in a decreasing order of size.
Now, we also have two additional words for you: You’re Welcome.
- Coordinating Conjunctions
At this point, you’re probably thinking: ‘Fine… fine… you’ve covered social sciences, pure sciences and math… but what about languages? How do I remember rules, and specifications in languages?’
Well, the truth is, you just got to be a little creative and mnemonics can rescue you from language remembrance troubles too! Don’t believe us? Keep reading.
Coordinating conjunctions in English are one of the quickest list of words that a lot of us need to remember: for use in our formal and informal communications alike. But when asked off the top of our head, a lot of us struggle to remember the list. This is why we want to help you with:
“I’m sorry… what?” you say and we remind you:
F – For
A – And
N – Nor
B – But
O – Or
Y – Yet
S – So
…. The list of coordinating conjunctions.
So, as you can see – any seemingly large chunk of information can be remembered: that is, retained and retrieved easily from our memory, using mnemonic devices. What we’ve shown you in this piece is not even close to the smallest fraction of the possibilities once you begin experimenting with this incredible way to remember things.
Oh – and once you get more comfortable with mnemonic devices and make some yourself, don’t forget to let us know! We’re waiting to see what you come up with.
Until next time!