Has anyone actually memorized a text book? How useful is it?


I am studying for the bar (intellectual property) in South Korea and I have decided to dedicate one memory palaces for each subject (patent law, trademark law, design law, civil procedures rules…etc) to store important information from the text book.

Has anyone who actually memorized the entire text book ? If so how useful was it ? I don’t mean memorizing the book word for word, but even memorizing just the table of contents + main ideas.

What are some of the advantages of having the entire book accessible in your brain for an exam like this?

I will be using the houses I lived in as memory palaces. So the question is should I set my loci in memory palace first (say 300 loci) then start storing information in it or should I start at a small room setting loci I go on with the studying?

Another question I have is what do I do if I have additional information I want to store in one of the rooms, as this would result in the following loci being shifted. Would this not matter as long as I can journey around the palace ?

Any advice would be much appreciated!



I have memorized a few books before in a variety of ways. As for the method of loci, mainly context to context with adequate understanding. It proved to be less useful than expected. The issue was how the memory was structured. Even though I could recite the book over 8 hours conceptually, If I were asked a certain question, it would be a linear search in my head for the answer or the answer would be put into my own words based on the interpretation I had. The two issues you face with this are:

  1. The peg is not the information but your visual cue, as such when you are asked a question that does not include your visual cue , you will struggle to find out what it is that you are being asked. 2.Since you memorize things conceptually you will give your own interpretation, which can at times be fatal mainly for exams as you would attempt to explain keywords which causes a great addition of time exams usually require you to use keywords and not explain them unless it is a state the definition kind of question.

To explain 1 a little better, when you read text, you generally subvocalize the text (say it in your head with sound), if you memorize with the method of loci the cue to the memory is usually your visual cue or locational cue, your visual cue is only attached to sound if you revisit your palace quite often or have modified the method in one way or another and it is not a direct association with many abstract terms, in addition to that you generally end up with a conceptual answer rather than a precise one. This causes loss of examination marks if that is important to you. While there are ways around this, this is a generic thing. An example that is a little similar is music, If I had decided to ask you what comes next in a song you have memorized you would not struggle as much to tell me the answer. If I then said how many of these words appear in the song or What did this phrase in the song mean, you would struggle much more than you should especially if I say that you are not allowed to recall the song itself.

People generally find it easier to keep the same input and output format for memory. The above issue would for example be completely gone if you would be able to read in pictures rather than sound.

That said I have memorized books in a variety of ways , I will make an addition to my above statement and say that, working memory is not gigantic. Even if you remember the entire textbook, you may at most look at a subsection at a time in your head while recalling. This implies also to the method of loci. Hence if I ask you, ‘What is the table of contents?’, your answer in your head even if you have memorized it, will not be a parallel output of all the sections , it will be sequential in at most your working memory capacity.

Naturally you have no choice but having an entire book accessible for your exam if you want maximum marks. the main important point is to answer to a given question. If you have a question, you should be able to get the answer from it and nothing else. That means the question should direct you to the answer. The method you will use is up to you, all methods can have success as long as the main requirements are met.

To answer your second questions, the advantage to having an entire book accessible to your brain for an exam is that you do not make errors and succesfully answer all questions accurately. Most books explain concepts for you. How you have a book accessible for your exam is, much more important than having a book accessible for your exam.

Assuming you mean your loci are the objects then no, it is better for the association to have a object that refers to the information at hand. As such you should start a small room setting loci as you go on with studying.

Additional information if you want to store it in the specific room and no extra locations(which is the standard) , you would put another object inside the same room. The ‘loci’ as you refer to it would not be shifted but overall yes it would not matter as long as you can journey around the palace. Keep in mind that you can journey around your room too so if you have more objects in there (which usually makes retention a little more difficult), then you can have a mini journey through your room.

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(Sangwoo Lee) #3

I’m also studying for the same subject as you in South Korea. I’m going to use several different places for different subjects. Before I start making memory palace, I have to figure out how many loci I need. I’m wondering what’s going on with you. Good Luck.

ps) I’m not fluent in English so there would be errors. Sorry :slight_smile:



While I have yet to memorize a book, (Once I find one worth doing so I will though.)… I have memorized 11 (and partially the 12th) of the US amendments word for word (Fell out of memorizing them for a couple of months due to school work.). And I have found that whenever said information is needed it’ll pop into my head immediately. I don’t even have to recall the palaces anymore. I have found this incredibly useful though I’d imagine that for a full scale text-book it may be better to instead simply memorize “hook points” and use those points to recall the information of the book versus word for word.

I would say set them as you wish, some people find it better to set them beforehand, I personally find it more memorable to set them as I memorize the information but really it’s whatever works best for you.

Though storing addition information… Depends, I don’t think you should shift the loci’s as that could potentially make it harder to remember. BUT, then again, you should experiment and see if it works for you or not. Personally I would simply create new loci’s between other loci’s, etc. Though this works best if you use a artificial palace, (One you imagine up as it is far easier to mold that then if it’s a real area).



Sounds like a good method. Keep it simple and use strong imagery and try to pack a lot of power, zaniness, scatology, whatever works.

Work in small bursts. Doing 3 20 bursts is better than a full 60 minutes - exactly like physical training.

Drink lots of water, take lots of walks, meditate and ponder and you’ll get there.

Memorizing a text book is doable; but why? It’s better to have concepts and theories at your fingertips. Knowledge is based more on principles firstly, then you can add facts and figures. Know why things are the way they are before getting into the minutiae.



If Korean is easier for you, use that: Greeks used Greek, French used French. What is needed to is to use meaning to cement the concepts you want to retain in memory.