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Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are systems and techniques which you can implement to help you recall certain facts and figures. They can be very helpful to some students. These kinds of devices can include abbreviations, acronyms, numbers, images and the like. Most often these are developed and designed by associating details that you want to remember with something else easily remembered due to its humor, timeliness, or something else. As an example, an old acronym that has helped students for years remember the order of the planets from closest to the sun to the most distant is this: "My Very Earthy Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas." By remembering this and that the first letter of each word refers to the first letter of a planet, you can see that the order of the planets is Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Since Pluto has been removed by some scholars as a planet, you might revise that phrase to read, "My Very Earthy Mother Just Served Us Nachos." The point is that remembering this phrase gives one a very good hint at the order of the planets. You can design your own acronym to remember any number of things. Just don't go overboard to the point that you can't remember all of the acronyms.

Deciding which details you need help memorizing or need available for easy recall should be done when you go through past tests, assignments and notes. It is always a good idea to prepare questions as you go through your review process so that you can go back and ask yourself these questions and make sure you know the answers and understand the answers with some degree of depth. Writing key points on flash cards or strips of paper as you review gives you something to go back and use later to test yourself on whether you have that concept down or not and whether you can explain its relationships to other concepts.

Last Updated: 08/20/2013


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