Harry Lorayne is a magician and a memory training specialist. He’s well known for his books on mnemonics, one of which I read years ago.
Mnemonics are techniques of remembering information, even when it comes in big chunks. In short, you make up a silly story in your head, like REALLY silly, that is so ridiculous you can’t help but remembering it. You imagine the story in your head, and after one time or two of visualizing it, you remember it.
I used the technique for school, back when I took biology in my first attempt at college. I passed the class with success using that technique (you can search online for it).
Let’s say there are two ways of retaining information, the traditional way and mnemonics. I used the latter.
- I read two pages a day (each subunit was about that long).
- I wrote down a list of important keywords.
- I used the keywords to write a summary of the subject of the subunit. If I missed information, I added keywords.
- When the keywords were enough for me to write a decent summary full with all the important information, I used mnemonics to retain the lists of said keywords.
That’s what I did. Each day I added a new list of keywords, and of course, “sharpened” the list of the days before. I had probably thousands of keywords stuck in my head, many lists of them, ready to be “converted” into biological facts.
One might think it’s stupid. You can’t study like that. You remember the silly stories you make up as part of the technique, but you don’t remember actual information. The truth, to me, was that every time I “converted” the lists into information, it was the facts that became more ingrained in my head. At the end, when I used the mnemonics, I didn’t recite the “silly story”, but facts and processes of, let’s say, photosynthesis, Krebs cycle, mitosis, and so on.
Because I used the keywords in the order in which they appeared in the book, writing down the information made it look like I copied and rephrased it directly from the book, and not from my head.
Others might say that we don’t go to college to remember, we go to learn. Well, the end result for me was that: I understood (and still do) how things work, I understood the logic, I remembered a lot of stuff (still do), and I excelled.
The most important thing, to me, was that I didn’t spend hours a day studying like I was back in high school, and yet, I had big chunks of information in me, so clear and thorough.