The Study Dude – Mnemonics and Study Tips

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants than for you to be able to name every bone in your body, master the rules of mnemonics in medicine, and consider becoming a nurse or doctor.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

Today’s study tips are based a reading of the book Mnemonics and Study Tips for Medical Students: Two Zebras Borrowed My Car! by Khalid Khan.

General Guidelines and Example for Making Mnemonics
In the August 15, 2014th edition of The Voice Magazine, The Study Dude revealed a brand new world of mnemonics for upping your grades the fun way. This article builds on it with a new mnemonic number system and some interesting strategies for making mnemonics fun.

Khalid Khan’s book is filled with memorable, but, at many times, rather vulgar mnemonics for medicine. While wild and positive mnemonics are most preferable, here is an example for remembering the causes of gum hypertrophy. Khan (2008) uses the following mnemonic: “Look! Funny Crowns!” where “look” stands for Leukaemia, “funny” stands for phenytoin, and crowns stands for Crohn’s or Ciclosporin.

While the application of this particular example may have no bearing in your life whatsoever, it is true that such a system for approaching mnemonics can make your academic life easier.

Here are some of Khalid’s (2008) tips for creating mnemonics:

– Involve as many as your senses as possible.
– Make the images bizarre. Make them so bizarre and so far-fetched that if they happened in real life, there is no way you would ever forget them.
– Keep your mnemonics short and simple.
– To avoid making mnemonics that just take the first letter of each word in the list, why not take the first syllable or first few letters of each word and make mnemonics with them, as in the gum hypertrophy example above?
– Implement patterns wherever possible such as “one heart; two lungs” to remember that the beta-2 receptors are on the lungs (two lungs; beta 2 receptors) and the beta-1 receptor is on the heart (one heart; beta 1 receptors).

Loci: Studying Hard with Mnemonics By Having Fun at Events
In the August 15, 2014th edition of The Voice, The Study Dude’s article on mnemonics talked about the loci of houses or dwellings that could be used for creating memory palaces. In these memory palaces, objects to be remembered would be linked with different objects or fixtures in the various rooms or parts of the home.

The Study Dude wondered if there could be more than just houses to associate concepts with, and Khalid Khan (2008) shows that everything from a fun-sporting event to a favourite movie can be potential loci onto which you can attach your mnemonics. So, you’ll never again have to feel guilty for going to the show or that Lady Gaga concert on a Friday school night.

Here are some tips from Khalid Khan (2008) for using events and movies for memorizing your homework:

– Take the various pivotal scenes in your favourite movie and start creating wild and memorable mnemonics at those particular points in the film. For instance, in the film, “The Wizard of Oz,” Khalid Khan (2008) makes a table (and advises on making either a table of a mind map) of the major events. In one column he has a listing of a one to three word summary of the event in the movie; in the next column he has the fact you need to learn for your studies; and in the final column, he has the mnemonic that links the scene to what you need to remember. For example, when Dorothy and her dog crash land into Oz, Khan (2008) has “Crash Land” in the first column, the term he needs to remember “Dorsal root ganglion” in the next column, and in the final column, the mnemonic: “Crash on back of (dorsum) of a GANG [ganglion] of munchkins” (p. 167).
– Choose a movie or event that you know really well (that you know almost as well as you know the interior of the house you grew up in, for instance, assuming you want to use the movie or event as an effective loci).
– List all of the most memorable events you know of and remember well, such as your wedding or Lady Gaga’s last performance at the awards (we are all closet Lady Gaga fans, aren’t we?) These, too, are potential loci.
– Make your chart in chronological or some other memorable order and, most importantly, have fun!

Another Mnemonic Number System: Numbers 1 to 12
In that edition, we covered a number system that had a unique phonetic sound (consonant or consonant combination) associated with each number. You could then link together the consonant sounds, forming words, by adding vowels in between each consonant. So, to make a difficult explanation easy, the number one was associated with the consonant “T” and the number six was associated with the consonant combination “SH” or “CH.” The number 16, therefore, could be remembered by linking T with CH by creating the word “TeaCH.” This particular number system is best for memorizing strings of numbers, such as the date 1939-09-01 (the presumed start of World War II).

However, in medicine, often times the number system from one to twelve has much significance, as in the case of memorizing what appears to be twelve cranial nerves. Now, The Study Dude isn’t an insider to medicine lingo, but the author of the book Mnemonics and Study Tips for Medical Students, Khalid Khan, certainly is the medical lingo mastermind.

Khan presents a system where numbers from one to twelve are closely associated with similar sounding objects or actions. Here are the numbers and their associations as taken from Khan’s (2008, p. 157) book:

– 1 = run
– 2 = shoe
– 3 = tree
– 4 = door
– 5 = hive
– 6 = stick
– 7 = heaven
– 8 = gate
– 9 = dine (or line)
– 10 = hen
– 11 = level crossing (or leaven)
– 12 = elves

For remembering that the cranial nerve I is associated with olfactory, Khalid Khan (2008) associates the word “olfactory” with an “oil factory” and then imagine an entire oil factory turning into a part human/monster and running through the streets, thereby associating “olfactory” (“oil factory”) with cranial nerve one (where one equals to “run”).

You can continue to do this system for the entire number of cranial nerves, up to twelve.

You can be sure that mnemonic masters are on the constant lookout for systems to aid in recall of information, and even you (the awesome person you are!) can readily begin creating your own systems. Just make them as bizarre as you possibly can–events that, if they happened in real life, you would never forget in a million years.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

Khan, Khalid. (2008). Mnemonics and study tips for medical students: Two zebras borrowed my car! Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.