memorization techniques tips

Top 13 Little-Known Memorization Techniques

By Carson King
Updated: February 3, 2021

Are you tired of reading the same “memory tips” over, over, and over again?

To be honest . . . same. The point of this blog is to put an end to humanity’s pointless suffering. It’s taken . . . well, a long time. This single list of tips is the crowning achievement of my entire life. Enjoy!

1. 大塘 – The Tai Tang Technique

Time to take notes! The “Sun Point” (Tai Tang) is your temple. Do you know all those classic images of people rubbing this point to get rid of headaches?

Yeah . . . it’s real

It’s been proven to reduce headaches, clear the mind, and even improve memory!

The process is so simple, most people do it subconsciously. The recommended practice is to massage your temples for two minutes, three times a day . . . but like, I don’t care. Whatever works for you, man. Even ten seconds is better than none.

So the next time you see someone rubbing their temples, go ahead and say in your best Confucian accent, “ah, the Tai Tang technique!”

2. Leitner system

The Leitner system: it even sounds cool (and it’s pronounced “late-ner”).

Got some flashcards? Ok, bring them out. The process is simple: go through your flashcards. Answer the questions. Place the ones you get correct in one pile, and all the ones you get wrong in another.

You repeat this process—each correct answer advances up the card hierarchy, while all the cards you get wrong go back to pile #1.

Ah, the power of spaced review!

This system was developed in the 1980s by a German Scientist named Sebastion Leitner- blah blah blah, who cares? Just that it works!

3. From notebook to sketchbook

memorization techniques notebook sketchbook-min

Humans are predominantly visual creatures. If you look at some of the earliest human writing systems, you’ll see hieroglyphs—aka, pictures. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is 110% correct.

Whether it’s biology or history, European history, Calculus, or even your grocery list—drawing out your notes can be 150% more effective! At the University of Waterloo, they asked the students to study common phrases (like a truck, or pear). One group wrote the terms, and the other drew them out.

Results? On average, those who wrote their notes only remembered 20 terms, while those that drew them remembered up to 45. Take this advice seriously!!!

4. The uncanny power of guessing

Let’s say you’re going on a date. You’re sitting at Olive Garden, trying not to be a dork around attractive people. As the nerd you are, you want to impress this “Bachelorette” with your impressive ability to memorize anything . . . specifically their phone number. (If so, use this secret tip to guarantee success!)

Basically: guess the answer, before it’s given

I’m serious.

If you guess the answer, before you know it, you will remember the correct answer even better. 

I wouldn’t have believed this myself, honestly. I’m a simple blog writer with a passion for fiction books, and this sounded more like The Hunger Games rather than a TED talk. However, the memory expert Ed Cooke is happy to prove us all wrong.

“Just the act of guessing can mean that when you’re then told the answer, you remember the answer much better than if you don’t guess at all.” 
– Ed Cooke

This applies to names, homework material—and yes—that boy’s phone number! My suggestion? Make it a habit to silently guess the answer to anything you want to remember.

5. A sticky solution

memorization techniques chewing gum sticky

You remember those kids in class, who always seem to be chewing on gum?

Perhaps they’re not as dumb as you thought.

There’s a boatload of research on why you should chew gum while you’re studying!

When you’re memorizing something, the goal is to use all your senses to improve memory. Taste is a powerful method. For example: If you chew mint-flavored gum as you study European History, and again when you take the European History test, you will recall information 24% better.

Chewing gum increases blood flow, oxygen to the brain, and triggers your sense of taste. 

Here’s a quote if you still don’t believe me: “. . . these results provide the first evidence that chewing gum can improve long-term and working memory.” 
Andrew Scholey

6. Chronobiology 

For those lazy people who never plan on using any of these tips, this “power-up” is especially for you. Introducing:

Chronobiology. The science of “good timing.”

You can improve your memory, simply by doing things at the right time!

Assuming you’re a human (tentatively I believe you are, but whatever) we have these things called circadian rhymes. Throughout the day, our body’s energy is constantly fluctuating.

Simply put: You best learn in “Acquisition Mode,” which has two cycles:

  • 10 am → 2 pm (four hours)
  • 4 pm → 10 pm (six hours)

You’re welcome. 

7. Teach other people yourself

Just DON’T SCROLL. Read this section. I know this is the tip everyone skips over—but you won’t regret it! Please and thank you!

Instead of trying to coax your friend or your cat to waste their time listening to you blabber about economic theory, try recording the lecture yourself, for yourself. Grab your phone, get outside, and talk as you go. As you explain the concepts, one-by-one, you’re doing a few incredibly valuable things:

  • You’re committing it to audio memory
  • You’ll notice the knowledge gaps as you explain to yourself
  • Plus you create cool audio notes!

That’s right! Not only can you teach yourself, but you can also review by yourself—you can listen to audio notes wherever you go! On the treadmill? No problem! Making ramen? Easy as pie! Just bust out those Airpods and get that A+.

8. For those wealthy students . . .

memorization techniques blueberries brain food

Willing to throw around some extra cash for a bigger brain?

Almonds and blueberries are incredibly good for your brain. Not only are these bad-boys simply good for you, but they also aid in mental recall. They contain Vitamin B and are rich in natural oils that are sure to bump your B+ to an A- in no time.

They also make a great snack!

A study in 2010 showed that drinking blueberry juice daily for twelve weeks improved learning and memory by 20%. Brain foods are no joke!

9. Storytime

Gather around the campfire, kiddos.

For generations, humanity thrived off the spoken word—not books, not Twitter, but by the ancient art of storytelling (insert cool sound effect here). From ancient Egyptian mythology to the sung folklore among Viking Scalds—the love of stories continues to echo within our modernized hearts.

Using stories as a vessel to remember information is one of the most profound ways to remember anything.

An example:

“White blood cells: also known as leukocytes, defend your body from disease and illness . . .”
– Your generic, boring textbook.

*cracks knuckles*

Leukocytes? More like leukoknights. I see a story, where these leukoknights, clad in imperial white armor, travel across the vast networks of the empire, banishing the enemy, and bringing glory to the crown!!!

With that imagery, and that twist on words, how could you forget? Imagine trying to memorize leukocytes vs leukoknights. 

10. Mind mapping

Imagine you have 1,000 bouncy balls. Your goal: carry them across the room, without dropping them. Likely, you’ll stumble around, dropping them one-by-one, sobbing in hysteria as they slip through your fingers.

This is your brain on test day.

With so much information, it’s easy for something to “fall” through our brain cells into the chasm of forgetfulness.

Now, imagine if you had a string connecting all these bouncy balls, like a massive bracelet, or necklace of sorts. That’s what a mind map is: a string, a way to connect all these seemingly random ideas and formulate them into organized, coordinated files of memory.

It’s simple: Connect the ideas!!! 

Linking information together in terms of categories, themes, spelling, timelines (anything, really) is like encasing a kid’s Lego set in cement: able to withstand a nuclear apocalypse.

I love you guys, so here are some more resources about mindmaps written by people more qualified than I am:

11. Don’t tweet, compete!

Let’s chat . . . about Snapchat.

The average user uses social media for a whopping 2 hours and 24 minutes a day. You may have one of two reactions:

  • “Not me! Wow, people are such losers these days.” 
  • “Yeah… that’s me…” 

Look, those 2+ hours of social media includes everything. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Friendster (*cough cough). You may not realize it, but between your “one-minute” scrolls while dumping tribute into your toilet, or checking those texts to “buy milk” during a red light . . . These moments add up . . . Fast. 

What if instead of wasting your time on pointless apps, you exercise your brain with brainy apps?

That’s right! There are thousands of these “brainy-apps,” along with an endless stream of videos, audiobooks, and online programs that can improve your memory in spare minutes.

Interested? Check out these non-affiliated apps to get started:

  • Lumosity. The “Amazon” of the mental-training world, it has dozens of exercises, daily challenges, and levels.
  • Peak. Simple, clear, lots of minigames.
  • Memorado. Personalized workouts.
  • Elevate. Many more mind games!

These apps are your Excaliburs, your Rings of Power . . . forget about dogs and cats, these are man’s best friends. 

12. Play dirty

memorization techniques disorganized chaos

memorization techniques chaos post it notes

What do these two pictures have in common?

Utter, complete chaos.

Graduating is no simple task (assuming you’re still in school). The rainbows and ponies you drew in preschool have burned in a dumpster’s furnace decades ago. This is the realm of foul play, dark secrets, and a horrifying reality: graduating is more intense than anything you’ve seen in Game of Thrones. Do you think school cares if you fail?

We fight fire with fire.

One such method is surrounding yourself with sticky notes. These may be formulas, terms, vocabulary words . . . whatever you need to memorize. Just cover your wall like your life depends on it! (which, it kinda does).

By keeping things constantly visible, you’ll constantly be reviewing things without even trying.

There’s so much potential here. Get rid of that Taylor Swift screensaver on your iPhone X, and use a picture of mathematical formulas instead. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty as you utilize every resource to destroy the final exams.

Use your creativity! The possibilities are endless.

13. Avoid distraction

People are addicted to distractions. For the rare 2% of readers who have made it this far, I doubt you’ve done so without being interrupted by a Reddit meme or a brief TikTok break.

You realize it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus completely on a task, once you’ve been distracted . . . right? That’s an ENORMOUS price to pay! That’s an entire episode of The Office or the average time for a 4k race.

Your focus is like a snowball rolling down the mountain. The further it goes, the larger it grows. From the size of a baseball to the size of a small house, it gathers speed until . . .

*Notification bell 

In that instant, your snowball of focus hits a boulder and scatters your energy across Planet Earth. There’s no redemption arc here. Those hours you’ve spent drilling over your textbook, prepping over that Dental Exam, is lost in a cloud of powdered mist. You’ve lost your speed, your momentum, and your honor.

23 minutes. 

That’s how long it takes to regain your honor.

When you’re trying to memorize something, you’re building a brick wall. For every distraction during that memorization phase, you’re replacing a brick with a handful of sand. Is that what you want? A faulty wall of memory?!?

Avoid distractions at all costs. Smash your phone, barricade the door, and overlay your windows with thick layers of steel. Planned breaks are ok. Unwanted distractions . . . not so much.

The happy beginning

I hope you took notes? Or at least made an action plan?

Whatever you did, please actually do something. Don’t let this be another generic blog you forget about after lunch break. Make today unforgettable by applying one-or-more of these techniques, and improve your life.

And hey! Come visit me again sometime in the future. The quest for more memory-tips never ends, and thus, the blog never ends! We promise to keep this post as updated as possible—and in turn—make sure you use them! :-)

Carson King law school blogger for Crushendo

About the author

Carson King is a content writer, author, and globetrotter. He’s volunteered internationally through various organizations and written for numerous corporations. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

Related stuff