This is a guest post by Travis Webster-Booth, if you are interested in doing a guest post as well, visit the contact page!
My girlfriend Carolyn, for all her intelligence, isn’t a word geek. Unlike me, she doesn’t spend her free time memorizing new vocabulary words for fun. She’d rather be painting, playing the harp, or doing just about anything else that’s creative.
Then along came the GRE’s: a big, scary, standardized test which all American graduate students must brave to get into the school of their choice. Suddenly, Carolyn was beset with a problem: she needed to learn a TON of new vocabulary words, and fast.
She knew who to turn to… me! I proceeded to teach her an extremely powerful memorization technique I have used for years known as the link system of memory. Ninety minutes later, she had taught herself SIXTY-FOUR new vocabulary words with perfect recall.
64 words. 90 minutes. Perfect recall.
I was floored. But really, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I should have remembered how powerful the link system of memory can be. After all, I had used the same technique some years ago to memorize all 42 (now 43) US Presidents by number in less than an hour. I still remember them today.
Do you think your studies could benefit from the link system of memory? I’m guessing they could. After all, memorization plays a critical role in every field of study. With the right technique, it’s much, much easier than you think.
So without further ado, I present you the link system of memory…
- Step 1: Break whatever you want to memorize into “word” and “definition.” Pretty straightforward, right? You could also do “state” and “capital,” “President” and “number,” or any other paired idea.
- Step 2: Visualize your first word (vivid and ridiculous helps). Start by just visualizing the word. See clearly in your mind the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the word. If a visual doesn’t pop immediately into your mind, break the word (or concept) down into parts. For example, if your word is “chicanery,” you might picture a Zen Master (for “chi”) working in a cannery, bottling up glowing bits of chi on a factory conveyor belt. Pretty vivid and ridiculous, huh? You won’t forget that any time soon. That’s called making your imagination work for you.
- Step 3: Visualize your definition, and associate it with your word. The definition of “chicanery” is “trickery.” So you might picture the Zen Master picking up a can, only to have it explode with confetti! Then you might picture a slew of monks laughing at the Zen master. They tricked him! What chicanery! You’ve now associated your two items together. Now, when you think “chicanery,” you picture the Zen monk with the explosive can of confetti and the other monks laughing at him. That reminds you of “trickery.” Got it?
- Step 4: Run the loop once or twice in your mind. Close your eyes and mentally repeat your word. You should be able to clearly see the whole loop play in your mind, leading you to the definition. Mentally repeat the definition, as well.
If you’ve followed these steps, you’ve just added a new word to your vocabulary in a matter of minutes- if not seconds. Provided that you occasionally review your associations, you will add these words to your permanent vocabulary. That means they’re with you for life, not just for your upcoming exam. Oh, and don’t worry- over time, you’ll forget the wacky images and just remember the facts.
I have found that by using this technique, I not only learn faster, but better. My recall is faster. My retention is improved. And it’s much easier to concentrate while I’m studying. In fact, I would estimate that I’ve cut my studying time in half with this one technique.
I guarantee that applying this technique will vastly improve your current study habits. But how will you use it? Will you memorize parts of the body? State capitols? Chemical elements? Math equations? The sky is the limit with this stuff!
Learn on, comrade.
Travis Webster-Booth is a prose-wielding, personal development maniac with an uncommon spiritual curiosity. He writes about everything from sleep habits to meditation on his blog, Thinking Spirit.
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