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I find it easy to remember the meaning of most technical terms if I'm prompted to explain each one of them. However, recalling all of them by their topics is a bit more difficult when they weren't mentioned at all, which is critical in objective tests.

In summary, for each topic there is a list of features - technical terms - and I need to remember all of them. What is an approach to memorize them by the topic?

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Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm talks about SuperMemo, software for this. There are clones to it.

"SuperMemo is based on the insight that there is an ideal moment to practice what you've learned. Practice too soon and you waste your time. Practice too late and you've forgotten the material and have to relearn it. The right time to practice is just at the moment you're about to forget. Unfortunately, this moment is different for every person and each bit of information. Imagine a pile of thousands of flash cards. Somewhere in this pile are the ones you should be practicing right now. Which are they?"

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This Wired article is such a gem I find myself re-reading it just for fun. – Vic Goldfeld Nov 22 '11 at 1:07

Someone else already suggested Anki and spaced repetition for optimal learning. I agree 100% with that recommendation, but would caution that your success with the method (or any flashcard method) depends strongly on the quality of the cards you produce. Well-formulated cards are easy to learn; poorly-formulated ones are a hindrance.

The creator of Supermemo (a paid, Windows-only spaced repetition system) described what goes into a good card in a comprehensive list of 20 rules that should always be followed when designing flashcards.

Effective Learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge

Read the 20 rules. Then read them again. Only then are you ready to take full advantage of an SRS system like Anki. I love Anki, but I wasted a lot of time on badly written cards before I found this article.

Another card design tip that I've found works well for me is to Google Image search terms when I'm making cards. YMMV depending on your subject and your personal learning style, but having visual aids to supplement text definitely helps me remember things.

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The link is nice! +1 – hellectronic Apr 28 '12 at 16:39

The Method of Loci is not the topic you're looking for, but the techniques are well explained there. It basically is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualization to organize and recall information. Many memory contest champions claim to use this technique in order to recall faces, digits, and lists of words. These champions’ successes have little to do with brain structure or intelligence, but more to do with their technique of using regions of their brain that have to do with spatial learning.

The bibliography and references might point to some interesting material as well:

Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else) explains how to use the methods of the catholic medieval memory masters. Over 700 years ago, St. Thomas Aquinas perfected an easy method for his students to memorize most any information. As the years passed, our need for this ancient art of memorization grew, yet somehow our culture largely forgot it . . . which is why today, when people try to remember a list of things, we have to repeat their names over and over.

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Thanks for the book recommendation. That looks like a great one I've never seen before. – jurassic Feb 27 '12 at 0:14

The following technique got me through college. And I was taking Computer Programming, so there were tons of technical terms. It allowed me to memorize any list (upto say 12 or 13 items) perfectly.

Simply associate each item with a number, and visualize that item / concept with the rhyming number pair word.

Here's the list of numbers and their rhyming pair words I used: (feel free to pair your own words)

  1. Bun
  2. Shoe
  3. Tree
  4. Door
  5. Hive (bee)
  6. Sticks
  7. Heaven
  8. Gate
  9. Wine
  10. Hen
  11. Seven (kidding, but any other word that rhymes) etc . . gets harder after 10! But if you can find a word go ahead.

Then take your random list of terms (Computerish related):

  1. Apple
  2. Microsoft
  3. Google
  4. Amazon
  5. Intel

Then visualize each word with the number rhyming word. For example, here's what I would visualize:

  1. Bun :: Apple -> Visualize eating an apple sandwiched between a bun
  2. Shoe :: Microsoft -> Tiny (micro) shoes made of velvet (soft)
  3. Tree :: Google -> A tree where each branch has laughing binoculars hanging (giggle + searching, ha whatever works for you)
  4. Door :: Amazon -> Imagine floating down the Amazon River on a door
  5. Hive :: Intel -> Imagine all the bees forming one mass consciousness of intelligence

The more ridiculous the visual, the easier to remember. Then at test time, go through the numbers, and recall what image you associated with that number: One is bun, I remember eating an apple sandwich - oh, it's Apple! etc.

This worked flawlessly for my needs (and my friends I trained). Very technical terms would be harder, but not impossible. Try breaking the word into sub words / syllables and associate a number with only the first part of the word, and hope that triggers you to remember the entire word.

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I would use spaced repetition, a learning technique that increases intervals of time between subsequent review of previously learned material. You could use Anki which is a great software that uses flash cards and spaced repetition.

Then, you must use your new knowledge in a significant context, a context close to what you will use this knowledge for in your life. If it's in writing, you could write a review of the field you are studying. Verify at the end of this exercise that you used every new terms you learned. Alternatively, you could write an analysis of a problem in the field using as your new vocabulary.

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Memorisation is a skill that has long since gone out of fashion, but the basics can be learned in very short periods of time. There are two great books on the subject that I can recommend to you.

  1. "The memory book" by Tony Buzan is a good introduction and will teach you some of the concepts.

  2. "How to develop a perfect memory" by Dominic O'Brien is a fantastic book that can teach you how to remember anything you are interested in.

The basic concept is that memory is really about being creative. As an example, it is far easier to remember people than numbers. Dominic O'Brien has a brilliant method for remembering any sequence of numbers. He has 100 characters that represent all two-digit combinations. Each has an associated action, that represents another two digits. To remember the number 97880513 just visualise Nigela Lawson (NG - 97) trying to escape from a straight-jacket (Harry Houdini's action who is number 88). Meanwhile Vee from V for Vendetta (05) is riding around her in circles on a bicycle (Alberto Contador's action who is number 13).

The more vivid you make the picture, the easier it is to remember. For example, you can visualize Nigela begging for Vee to help her in exchange for a home-cooked meal using her feminine wiles.

This type of system is brilliant once you get used to it. Moreover, once you get used to the principles, you can use it to remember anything. I find it fantastic for remembering facts in meetings with clients.

Good luck as a mnemonist!

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That's very interesting but how do you recommend to adapt it to memorize technical terms? – Renan Sep 3 '11 at 21:48
As I understand it, you have bunches of technical terms that are associated with particular topics. Let's suppose that your topic is basic methods – forgetfulFunctor Sep 4 '11 at 8:10

I suggest you to make acronyms and anagrams. You know like "VIBGYOR" stands for "Violet Indigo Blue Green Yellow Orange Red" the 7 colors of a rainbow. We usually find technical lists difficult to remember because oh they are boring.

What if they were interesting like a game, a puzzle or a song? So, why not just turn them into a game or a song? And funnier the song is the easier is it to remember, we never forget something funny easily.

Here is another one: "B. B. Roy of Great Britain had a very good wife", it stands for "Black Brown Red Orange Green Yellow Blue Violet Gray White", it is the resistor color code.

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I focus on


Repetition. Once can be fleeting. Seeing the 100th time makes a difference!

Multiple senses - sometimes I use mnemonics, sometimes I drop a picture with key concepts drawn in distinctive ways. I read, I listen to podcasts, I watch video's, I use color in editors. The more senses I use the better.

Mnemonics, e.g. css border order Tarball (TaRBalL) TopRightBottomLeft. I also use colors and shapes to remember words and themes. Often the more bizarre, the more memorable!

Continued Use- This is the 'use it or lose it' effect. All knowledge fades over time. Time++ Fade++

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I would first hammer them into my brain using flash cards and frequent learning. You can make that easier by using mnemonics. Then I'd try using the terms in conversation or writing (think IRC) to get them into your active vocabulary.

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