This guide is created to aid you in improving your memorization skills.


We all struggle to remember information and forget important things. Retaining information is closely linked to academic success since exams are designed to test what you've retained from classroom lectures and personal study.

You should have noticed that some things are easier for you to remember than other things. For example, you may find it easy to remember how to play a complex video game but struggle to remember multiplication tables.

What's important here is that there are memory strategies that will help you remember what you really need to remember, when you need to remember it. We will introduce some of those strategies in this guide.

Discuss, Relate, Recall

Believe it or not, talking is a very powerful–and underutilized–strategy for improving memory. How does it work? Just talk! Talk about what you've learned. Talk about the information you need to remember. Sit down with your Mom, Dad, brother, sister or friend and tell them what you've learned.

Struggling to memorize the Kreb Cycle for your upcoming AP Biology test? Then sit down with someone and describe in detail how the Kreb Cycle works. Want to learn history? Then discuss, debate and argue history with someone else. Want to improve your Spanish? Then talk Spanish with someone who will listen–or find a fluent Spanish speaker who will listen to you.

Students often struggle to retain important information because it is unclear or confusing. It's much more difficult to remember concepts when they're not completely understood. In order to remember new information presented to you, in your mind summarize the information you've just learned in your own words. If you are unable to do this, it is a strong sign that you do not fully comprehend the concept you're attempting to learn–and consequently will have difficulty recalling it for future use.

All students cram for tests at one time or another. Although many people cram right before tests, it is not an effective long-term learning or memorization strategy. It is very difficult to retain information long-term from one or two cramming sessions.

The key to memory retention is to frequently review notes and other study materials weeks or days before tests. If possible, review notes immediately following lectures and jot down or highlight information that will probably show up on a test.

You should also adapt this strategy after completing textbook reading assignments by reviewing information you highlight and chapter headings. Through repetitive review and study, you will eventually begin to retain the information being learned.

Flash Cards and Mnemonic Devices

Flash cards are one of the classic study tools, and for good reason – they promote studying through active recall, which is one of the practices through which our brains learn most effectively.

Here are some best practices for making and studying with flash cards:

  • Make your own flash cards;
  • Use thick papers;
  • Keep your cards simple;
  • Mix pictures and words;
  • Use mnemonic devices to create mental connections;
  • Write only one question per card;
  • Break complex concepts into multiple questions;
  • Review at least three times a day;
  • Say your answers out loud when studying;
  • Study your flash cards in both directions.

Many people use mnemonic devices to remember specific details from lectures and reading. Mnemonic devices work by relating facts with short phrases, words that rhyme, or anything else an individual is familiar with. For example, if an important definition that will appear on a test rhymed with the last name of your favorite movie star, you could use this mnemonic device to remember the word.

Another powerful mnemonic device for improving ability to remember important information and details is the use of acronyms. An acronym is a word composed of the first letters of a list of words.

How does it work? Easy. You take the list of words that you want to memorize and put them in an order so that the first letters of each word spell a real or made-up word that is easy to remember. An example of a simple acronym is MADD–Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

One of the all time most powerful mnemonic devices is music. Want to memorize something and never forget it? Then put it to music, or your favorite song. Want to memorize all the states in the nation? Put them to your favorite song. Want to learn all the countries in the world and never forget them? Put them to your favorite song.

Again, if you can create a catchy song, with a tune you're already familiar with, using data or information, you can memorize and remember anything?

The Power of Visualization

Association involves associating, or "connecting", a word or event with a place, feeling, person, situation, or thing.

Association is a very powerful memory strategy that allows the brain to connect something it's already familiar with to something new that it's not familiar with. By connecting the unfamiliar to the familiar, the brain more easily is able to learn and remember the unfamiliar.

Association is very effective for learning and remembering vocabulary words. When you are given a new vocabulary word to memorize, write it down, and then the definition next to it. Now write a person, place, thing, event or movie that you're familiar with next to the word, or combine them in a sentence to create a strong association. For example, "My uncle is an ardent democrat". (Ardent meaning intensely devoted.)

It's easier to remember a picture rather than details from a book or a lecture. Visualization is one strategy that can be used to remember information that's been read in a text book or spoken during a lecture. This strategy is especially useful when studying abstract or confusing subjects.

To apply this strategy, create images in your mind that relate to, or have similarities to, the abstract concept. Visualizing information read or relayed to you will imprint it in your mind, increasing the likelihood you'll remember it.

Visualization is particularly effective for memorizing systems, cycles and processes. it allows you to create a vivid, meaningful and memorable story that allow you to recall information. You can also use maps, charts, graphs, or pictures to help you visualize and remember important material.

Structure and Practice

Organizing information into logical categories is one of the most effective ways of improving recall and memory.

For example, if you are trying to memorize vocabulary for a foreign language class, classify words together that have similar meanings or that fall under similar categories. This will enable you to associate words with certain categories that provide context and meaning. Organized information is much, much easier to retain than random information.

Another good example of the power of organization as it relates to memory is Human Anatomy. It can be very difficult to memorize the thousands of parts that make up the human body. So how do students do it? Simple. They organize the parts into systems. Once the parts of the body have been organized in to systems, based on function or location, memorizing all the parts of the body becomes very achievable.

In order to remember or learn a concept, you must practice active studying. If you are passive in your study habits, it will be very difficult to remember what you read or hear during a lecture. One way to be an active studies is to teach the information you are studying to classmates in a study group.

You can also critically analyze material you're studying by contrasting it with correlating details or coming up with questions about what you've learned, or finding ways to apply what you've learned. By implementing active study strategies into your personal study, you'll enhance your ability to retain confusing or complicated concepts.


  • Make the information meaningful
  • Organize the information
  • Visualize the information
  • Practice active studying
  • Make connection between the information (Association)
  • Review the information frequently
  • Use flash cards
  • Storytelling
  • Talk about the information
  • Use mnemonic devices
  • Use Feynman Technique to remember difficult & Complex Concepts

Video Resources

Remember What You Read

Use Feynman Technique

How to Memorize Fast and Easily

Better Ways to Make and Study Flash Cards

How to memorize effectively

Mnemonic Devices Improve Memory

Memory Palace and Mnemonics