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Test Taking Strategies: Mnemonics

Mnemonic Devices for Memory

Video: 5 Ways to Build Focus and Concentration

Types of Mnemonics

  1. Acronyms – An acronym is a word or phrase made by using the first letter of key words in a list of items to remember.


HOMES = Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior (the five Great Lakes)

  1. Acrostics – An acrostic is a sentence made by using the first letter of key words in a list of items to remember.

An example:

Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally = parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction (represents the order of operations in math problems)

  1. Word Associations – Word associations are jingles, rhymes, short songs, and raps that work as memory tools to recall information.


Use i before e except after c or when sounded like a as in neighbor and weigh.

Righty tighty, lefty loosy (to remember which way to turn a bolt or to tighten a jar) 

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

  1. Picture Associations - Picture associations are visual suggestions to help you to easily remember and recall information.


Term: Mao Tse-tung

Definition: Leader of the Chinese Revolution

Visual Association: Draw a person mowing the lawn, a person saying something, and a tongue.

  1. The Loci Method –The loci method is a mnemonic technique that involves associating items or topics with specific rooms in a familiar building.


Assume you have to give a speech or write an essay for a history class about the end of the economic boom in the 1970s. Visualize walking through a building on campus, like the student union:

  • At the front door, picture a poster that says, “350 percent increase in oil prices.”
  • In the hallway, picture rows of oil barrels with large Xs on them for Arab oil embargo
  • In the cafeteria, picture food prices: hamburgers $7.50, milk $3.00, for high retail prices.
  • In the lounge, picture posters on the walls of closed auto factories for slump in auto industry
  • In the hall as you leave, picture people lined up for job interviews for high unemployment.
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