What are Mnemonics?

by olivia anderson

These are patterns related to words and ideas, which are used to enhance the memory of certain information. You should check out our new grade calculator. When talking about mnemonics, most people think of mnemonic acronyms that help people remember items by using a catchy phrase or word in which the acronym letters are at the start of each of the words in a list. You should check out our new high school GPA calculator. For example, the acronym ‘VIBGYOR’ is used to remember the colors in the optical spectrum in the order they appear – violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.

Some other examples of mnemonics are:

  •     To memorize the order of the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario), the acronym ‘HOMES’ is used. Another mnemonic for the order is ‘Super Man Helps Everyone.’
  •     To remember the sequence of mathematical operations (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction), the mnemonic used is ‘Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.’ (PEMDAS)
  •     The seven coordinating conjunctions, namely For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So, are remembered using the mnemonic ‘FANBOYS.’
  •     To recall the order of taxonomy (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species), biology students use the mnemonic ‘King Philip Cuts Open Five Green Snakes.’

Mnemonics work by linking easy-to-remember clues with unfamiliar or complex data. Though they often appear to be arbitrary, nonsensical, and illogical, their wording is fun, thus making them memorable. Teachers should introduce their students (with and without disabilities) to mnemonics to help them remember and retrieve the new information they teach. Mnemonics are extremely helpful when a task requires students to memorize certain information rather than understand a concept.

Once the students learn the concept of mnemonics, they can use and adapt these tools for the rest of their lives to ensure important information doesn’t slip through their fingers. There are different types of mnemonics, and which one works the best is dependent on the individual student. Listed below are four basic types:

  •     Music mnemonics: Music is a powerful tool that works well in mnemonics where items in a list to be remembered are combined in a song or rhythmic pattern. Examples are the ‘ABC’ song to learn the English alphabet or the ‘50 Nifty United States’ song that students use to learn all the states alphabetically.
  •     Name mnemonics: Here, the first letter of each word in a list is used to form the name of an item or person, like ROY G. BIV (for remembering the colors of the spectrum). It’s interesting to note how it’s the exact reverse of VIBGYOR.
  •     Word or expression mnemonics: This is perhaps the most popularly used among mnemonics, where the initial letter of every item in a list is organized to form a phrase or word. Examples already discussed earlier are ‘FANBOYS’ and ‘King Philip Cuts Open Five Green Snakes.’
  •     Rhyme mnemonics: Here, the information to be remembered is organized in the form of a poem. For example, ‘In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.’

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Some other types are image mnemonics, note organization mnemonics, model mnemonics, connection mnemonics, and spelling mnemonics.

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