Any tips for recalling vast amount of subjects learned?

After reading several posts about “memorization for college” and its variants I would like to ask the help of you experts and memorization enthusiasts.

I am currently studying for a test for a public job in Brazil.
I love the content I am learning but due to the sheer unreasonable amount of knowledge I need to know (all of internal and international law), i am having a hard time remembering all i learn.
After spending a long time studying about studying, I came up with some techniques which are, mainly related to active recall (reviewing the subject).

Would you guys recommend a memorization technique specifically to remember what i learn as i learn it?
Also, some topics i do have to memorize, like specific percentages which i cannot “learn”, but i have to know from heart. Would memory palaces be the best for these?
Eg: % of some specific taxes that are sent from the central gov to the states (21.5%) and cities (22.5% + 1% june + 1% december).

Thank you for the attention

It is difficult(for me anyway) to keep something in memory for a long time,if I don’t properly ‘encode’ it at the beginning. Active recall, spaced repetition or rote memorization doesn’t help me much in certain subjects,ie ‘programming syntax’, if I don’t encode the learning material at the beginning stage of my learning!!!

By ‘encoding’, I mean,reconstruction of the material like ‘converting the abstract concept into images,using acronyms, pegs,linking,chunking etc’!

After I encode the material, I need to put them into Memory Palaces!!!

Then,the “review” part comes!!! I use Anki for reviewing the material!!!

BUT just reviewing is never enough, you need to “apply” in real life what you have learned. If you don’t use your learning in real life, they don’t get cemented in your long term memory!! And your understanding of the learned materials doesn’t turn into knowledge, if you don’t use them in real life. “Bloom’s Taxonomy” recommends five stages for learning something…Memorization comes at the beginning stage. But applying the material in real life is also an important stage,according to “Bloom’s Taxonomy”! Without applying what you have memorized,you can’t develop ‘knowledge and understanding’!

So,my process is something like this:

  • Encode(linking, converting into images, memory palace, etc)
  • Review(spaced repetition)
  • Apply(in real life)

The acronym is: ERA

If your subject material is big in volume, you should use Memory Palace,though linking or story making may work as well… And for numbers, you can use Major System or Dominic system!!


I will add that, for me, as long as ‘spaced repetition’ is present, it doesn’t matter if I apply or encode the information. So spaced repetition is quite crucial for long term retention. On the other-hand regardless of how much I understand,encode or apply something, it doesn’t really stick as reliably as it does with spaced repetition.

So my recommendation is spaced repetition.

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I found that there are certain subjects that are difficult to keep in memory only by SRS. For example,programming syntax/codes…Or,certain codes like “ODXG694”! It is too difficult to keep a code number like “ODXG694” in memory only by using SRS. We need to at first encode and convert this type of code into images of some sort. Then,this type of code gets easy to recall.

I usually, convert this type of codes into image and then apply SRS to review the ‘mnemonics’. I had to memorize codes like this “ABXO18” as client code. There are around 210 codes like this for 210 clients of mine in my work. SRS didn’t help me in this regard at all. Only after I encoded them,I was able to recall them…But may be,it is just me. Others may be able to recall this type of codes by using SRS…

The hardest things to memorize by SRS without encoding, for me, are:

  1. Long lists
  2. Random letters and numbers
  3. Non-associated information (by this I mean recalling something in a particular order as oppose to randomly without any trigger)

This is mainly because, these things take much much longer without encoding than they do with encoding and require more frequent reviews but that is it.

Programming syntax is, I find at least significantly easier, code is even easier than syntax. ODXG694 I can remember with SRS relatively easily, the issue is when you have to memorize something like


This is still feasible with SRS but may take as long as 10 minutes, and then later reviews, whereas with mnemonics doing this in 2 minutes is definitely feasible, and less reviews will be required.

Programming is easier I find, because you can remember how to ‘program’ with spaced repetition, rather than independent parts.

This is definitely doable with spaced repetition for me. With some types of information and less encoding the interval I find, is shorter.

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Thank you so very much for the inputs!

converting the abstract concept into images - absolutely a great idea! i have been drawing mental maps and started doodling them, it most definitely helps!

Chunking - while answering you, both in respect to the thoughtful answer and because i do want to implement the suggestions, i studied about chunking (and linking which i didnt know) and it does seem something i can implement! it will surely help! I am currently doing the “learn how to learn” course, any source you would specifically recommend?

Acronym and mnemonics and peg do not seem to work well for my purposes as they are not integrated into knowledge, but rather an “open drawer, grab said points, put them back, close drawer” kind of technique (please correct me if i am wrong).

I am a bit reluctant of using palaces (and linking) for law for 3 reasons:
1 - i am under the impression knowledge retained from it is not well integrated with the rest, which is a must on Law. A set of knowledge in one area must always be compared to another.
2 - It is hard to visualize a palace without a “if, then” formula, meaning a strict step by step and closed set of itens. Suppose I am studying a constitutional principle with a hardcore meaning and an infinite halo of ramifications, lets say “due process”. I dont believe i could create a palace for it as what would be needed is more of a pool…
3 - the sheer amount of knowledge does not make it a feasible option. Under Law there are about 20 main subjects, each its own science… and as unfathomable as it is, the challenge is to learn it all. I am setting aside 3 years for it, may take me more, maybe less…

I do appreciate the valuable tips, but I got to take them with a grain of salt I think.

The subject of your reference is from the exact sciences and (these are assumptions, sorry if i ballpark them incorrectly) mainly related to math, logical thinking and creative process.
The study of Law is, i believe, a bit different… I would argue it is closer to a newly developed branch of medicine (meaning it is fluid on the top but with a well sedimented basis), which makes it somewhat hard to implement most of the encoding suggestions.

For reviewing i am using anki and doing video reviews!

applying in real life may be complicated as most of the knowledge is conceptual, but i believe i can do it by imagining situations and drawing them. Would you suggest something else?

Again, thank you very much!

Thank you Nagime, I am not an expert, but this does seem to hold true to me

Mr Mamunur, you seem to have quite a grasp on encoding
sometimes, as mentioned, i do have to simply memorize certain percentages.
I am not knowledgeable on the techniques you mentioned on your first post.
Which one would you recommend me to master first? or should i try them all at the same time?
Do you have any source you specifically found useful ?

Thanks again!

I am a bit reluctant of using palaces (and linking)

If you don’t find “Memory Palace” useful for your purpose,that is fine. There are memory experts who don’t use Memory Palace at all. Mr Harry Lorayne is one such individual. He had used ‘linking method’ extensively and openly took stand against Memory Palace! He claimed that he could memorize vast amount of materials only by ‘linking/story method’!

I believe,with Memory Palace any branch of knowledge can be stored in human memory. MP is a very very powerful thing. No wonder humans have been using Memory Palace for thousands of years(please,read the books “The Memory Code” and “Memory Craft” by Lynne Kelly,if you are curious to know more about MP)! Interestingly,you have to use it extensively in order to see its real power! The more you use Memory Palace technique,the more skilled you get at it…

Interestingly,you will actually not need Memory Palace after you have cemented your learning material in long term material and the material has become a ‘second nature’(knowledge!!). For example,I learned 200 items for Dominic System for number with the help of Memory Palace. But after a couple of weeks,I could easily recall all 200 items without the help of Memory Palace. I don’t need MP anymore for Dominic System!!!

applying in real life may be complicated as most of the knowledge is conceptual, but i believe i can do it by imagining situations and drawing them. Would you suggest something else?

There are so many different ways, you can apply what you have learned,in real life. For example,you can start to write blogs and make videos in Youtube to explain to others what you have learned. Or,you can teach someone. Teaching is a great way to ‘learn’ something and find out the gaps of one’s knowledge! You can teach others via forums,discuss the topics of your interest with others. Even oppose them and their point of views just to strengthen your own learning. You can discuss what you have learned with your friend. There are so many ways to apply your knowledge in real life.

I also try to apply ‘interleaved practice’ so my learning gets stronger!

I hope,you have heard about ‘Feynman technique’ of learning. Mr. Feynman,a renowned scientist,encourages to explain what one has learned in simple way to others(or even to oneself,if non one else is available)! You learn a lot by teaching others,you can find the gap of knowledge only when you try to make someone else understand what you have learned…!!! You need to find the gap of knowledge within you and fill it up with reviewing your subject matter,like Mr Feynman has suggested…I personally found ‘Feynman technique’ to be a very effective method.

We all suffer form the ‘Dunning kruger’ effect. We ‘think’ we know something,but only when we try to apply our knowing in real life,we find the gaps of knowledge. ‘Feynman technique’ is great for avoiding ‘Dunning Kruger’ effect.

Which one would you recommend me to master first? or should i try them all at the same time?
Do you have any source you specifically found useful ?

You mean the “Major System” and “Dominic System”? You should choose the “Major System”. I have learned both. I found,Major System is easy and quick to develop,as there are a lot of available resources on Major System.


Thank you very much again for going out of your way to help, I hope I can show you in a couple of months real results based on your comments!

Thank you for mentioning this. Interleaved practice is an excellent tool.

I suspect many people are unaware of it as an important tool for long term learning.

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