The Study Dude – Super Memory, Super Student

Study Tips from a Semi-Anonymous Friend

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to relate the word “supercilious” with the visual of a big haughty super silly ass/donkey (in addition to learning many others of Harry Lorayne’s (1990) memory devices).

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. 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.

Today’s study tips are based a reading of the book Super Memory Super Student: How to Raise Your Grade in 30 Days by Harry Lorayne.

Revisiting the Rules for Effective Mnemonics: One More Time
In a prior article on mnemonics, The Study Dude highlighted a number of basic memory device (mnemonic) tips that are the foundation of a good memory system.

To get to the good stuff right away, here is an encapsulation of the main principles of memory devices covered in previous articles, although some of what follows is new information:
– Remember the new item in a ridiculous way and link it something you already know. If you are trying to remember that the root word “culp” means “to blame,” you can associate the word culp with gulping when someone blames you for something.
– Always try to visualize the word or memory device.
– Make the visual larger than life. For instance, if you are trying to remember the word “sycophant,” try to remember an overly servile, overly flattering ant that you are “sick of.” (Sycophant means overly servile and flattering.)
– Exaggerate the numbers of the item you are trying to remember. Imagine thousands of overly servile, overly flattering ants, all wearing aprons.
– Associate an action with the memory device. Imagine the ant kissing up to you as it bakes you a pie.
– Lastly, use substitution, where you would visualize one thing for another. For instance, if you are trying to remember that your piggy bank is hidden underneath your bed, imagine your bed is made of a giant piggy bank and the pillow is a looney that is emerging from the coin slot.

Expanding the number system from 1 to 100
Also in a prior article, the Study Dude listed the mnemonic system that is commonly used for memorizing numbers. Although it is a somewhat arbitrary system, below are the memory devices for memorizing the number to letter associations. (For instance, 3 is a sideways “m” and 8 looks like a scripted “f”):

– 1 is “t” or “d”
– 2 is “n”
– 3 is “m”
– 4 is “r”
– 5 is “l” (as in “el”)
– 6 is “j”, “sh”, or “ch” (which all are phonetically similar, having similar placement of the tongue, lips, and teeth in the mouth)
– 7 is “k” or “G”
– 8 is “f”, “v”, or “ph”
– 9 is “p” or “b”
– 0 is “s” or “z”
(Lorayne, 1990, p. 47)

When memorizing dates, the idea is to reduce the date to a number (say, year, month, day) and then string together the above consonant representations (their phonetic sounds, that is) with vowels to make words that you can use for memory purposes.

For instance, 1984 would be represented with a “t” or “d” for the 1, a “p” or “b” for the 9, a “f” or “v” or “ph” for the 8, and an “r” for the 4. Finding vowels to make these numbers into words is, as you can see, not always easy. That is why Loryane (1990) supplies full words for the first 100 numbers (yes, he lists them all, which I won’t do here). It is important to note that it is the pronunciation and not the spelling that is important, and that “h”, “w”, and “y” can be used with the vowels in forming words as none of these three letters have a tie-in to the numbers). He recommends you use two words to represent four numbers.

Lorayne’s (1990) words for 19 and 84 are “tub” (19) and “fur” (84). Imagine a big tub of your dog’s fur that you jump into to have a bath. Imagine George (as in Orwell, the author of the book 1984) in the tub with you. The word “My Summer” would have an “M” (the number 3), “S” (the number 0), “M” (the number 3), and “R” (the number 4), making it representative of the digits 3034 or, if you memorized Lorayne’s number system, you could string together the words “mouse” and “mower”, imagining a mouse that gets ran over by a lawn mower (yuck!).

Yes, these visualizations are ridiculous, but that’s how you’ll remember. Also, once you start getting familiar with the number system above (using Lorayne’s word substitutions for the numbers 1 to 100 on page 47 of his book), you will get very good at memorizing long strings of dates and numbers.

It isn’t easy and it takes practice, but you can do it. The Study Dude hasn’t done it yet, but with daily practice, anything is possible.

Substitute Word System
Lorayne (1990) articulates the uses and applications of the substitute word system. When trying to memorize large words, names, foreign words, or complex words with no easy English substitute, the substitute word system comes in super handy. When trying to memorize a complex word, just imagine words that sound like it, and substitute them in. The sycophant example above demonstrates this system in action. The substitute word system also comes in handy for learning foreign languages. For instance, the word “peừgas” (the Portuguese term for sock) sounds like “pee-oo-gesh.” You can associate this word with a visualization of a “gigantic sock having an awful order; you say to it, ’Peeyoo, you smell like gas’ ” (Lorayne, 1990, p. 57) Peeyoo and gas get linked to the sound “pee-oo-gesh”.

Letters of the Alphabet
To memorize letters of the alphabet, you would benefit from the following system articulated by Lorayne (1990). It comes in super handy for tasks such as memorizing the periodic table in chemistry.

The following words are associated with each respective letter of the alphabet: “A” is “ape”; “B” is “bean”; “C” is “sea”; “D” is “dean” or “deal”; “E” is “eel”; “F” if “half”, “effort”, or “effervescent”’; “G” is “jeans” or “jeep”; “H” is “age”, “itch”, or “ache”; “I” is “eye”; “J” is “jail” or “jaybird”; “K” is “cake” or “cane”; “L” is “el (elevated train)”; “M” is “hem” or “emperor”; “N” is “hen”; “O” is “old”, “eau”, “owe”, or “open”; “P” is “pea”; “Q” is “cue”; “R” is “art” or “hour”; “S” is “ess curve”; “T” is “tea” or “tee”; “U” is “ewe” or “youth”; “V” is “veal” or “V as in victory”; “W” is “Waterloo”; “X” is “eggs”, “exit”, or “X-ray”; “Y” is “wine”, “whine”, or “wife”; “Z” is “zebra” (p. 89).

When remembering the periodic table, Lorayne (1990) demonstrates that you can take rows and label them alphabetically, and then take the columns and label them numerically. He says that to remember that cell A1 (the first row and first column) is H, substitute the above mnemonic for the H (you can choose from “age”, “itch” or “ache”). As for the A1 cell, start a word that begins with the “A” for the row number and use the letter associated with the number one (as outlined in the number system listed above). So, we know that “1” is associated with the letters “t” or “d”, so string the A (for the row letter) with a “t” (for the column number) to get the word “ate”. Then find a memory device to link the words “itch” for “H” with “ate” for “A1”. Maybe you ate a mosquito itching itself. You don’t have to stick with the alphabet system above, however. For instance, if you want to remember that B7 is B/C you could remember that B7 is associated with “B,” of course, and “g” for 7 (according to the above number system). So the word “bug” for B7 could be associated with Before Christ (B.C).

The Study Dude admits that Loryane’s system can be a little tedious, but the idea is to practice the systems laid out in the book on a regular basis. Once you memorize the number system, for example, you have the number mnemonics ready at your disposal. The Study Dude admittedly hasn’t memorized that alphabet equivalents yet, but each new method you memorize is yours for the taking.

Spelling Tip
A nifty little memory device for spelling correctly involves finding a word within a word and associating the two. For instance, to remember the spelling of the word “tragedy”, note that the word “age” is in it, and say to yourself, “to age is no tragedy” (Lorayne, 1990. p. 106). As another example, to remember the spelling of February, note that “br” is in it, and say to yourself “Br, it’s cold” (Lorayne, 1990, p. 106).

Lorayne, Harry. (1990). Super Memory, Super Student: How to Raise Your Grades in 30 days. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.