How do I memorize information in a textbook?

I think many of the techniques enumerated in the wiki, blog, and forums are great. It’s certainly pleasurable to impress everyone at a family reunion by memorizing a deck of cards, or going through the first 50 digits of pi, but how can I put these skills into more practical uses such as memorizing parts of a textbook for school or being an autodidact?

Textbooks often have many different types of information that must be memorized. In addition to having to memorize certain information, you must also connect this information in ways that perhaps aren’t optimal for a memory palace.

  1. Vocabulary
    Given:
    A class is a user-defined type provided to represent a concept in the code of a program.

How do I connect the word class with its meaning?

  1. Equations/Formulae
    STEM textbooks are often littered with various equations you are expected to know. For instance, I am completely lost on how on earth I am supposed to create a visual for the following formula (Calculus Early Transcendentals 8th Edition, Sullivan) in a memory palace:
    56%20PM
    (The average value of f on the interval [a,b])

Yes, I have searched the forums and read a few posts. Most give examples using very simple equations such as pV=nRT. Also how do you connect that to the gas law? “PeeVed Nerdy RaT” (don’t ask) helps me memorize the equation, but not connect it to the ideal gas law.

  1. Concepts
    I would argue that conceptual topics are even harder for me to visualize in a memory palace. For example, take this snippet about pointers (The C++ Programming Language 4th Edition, Bjarne Stroustrup):

For a type T, T∗ is the type ‘‘pointer to T.’’ That is, a variable of type T∗ can hold the address of an object of type T. For example: char c = 'a'; char∗ p = &c; // p holds the address of c; & is the address-of operator
I understand the concept, but how can I use mnemonics and a memory palace to commit this to memory?

Fleur from Rome is sitting on the see-saw, opposite sits her boring mate Bjorn (the one whose wallet Alice stole). Suddenly Juan tries to jump on top of Bjorn which annoys Bjorn so he grabs his handy chainsaw and slices poor old Juan in half.

If someone were to put a gun to my head and force me to memorise that equation and its meaning then I wouldn’t use a MP, I’d go back to first principles (ie chunk,associate with what you know) and use the Story Method.
NB I am as thick as the proverbial and regard number-thingys in the same way I view vitamins- as nasty , SNEAKY things best avoided.

‘Fleur from Rome’= Fave because ‘F’ is the chemical symbol (if Google be believed) for Flourine and ‘ave’ according to Asterix was the Roman salutation. A see-saw is obviously a ‘balance’ or ‘equal sign’. B for boring Bjorn (b = boron). There isn’t, it seems, a chemical with the symbol ‘a’ so I’ve used ‘Alice’ as a simple place holder. Juan is ‘1’…
I don’t suppose that helps, and hopefully someone will come along soon with some far more worthy answers for you.

PS. the example i gave is toned down , you would need to make it all far more ‘memorable’ . Fleur isn’t just sitting on that see-saw…

2 Likes

Yup… that works for those simple equations. For your example you should look into learning some braille, so you can use your existing number system together with a memory palace to encode the formulas. Have a look here:

You then simply use a gas station as your memory palace; or place something that reminds you of it into the first location of the palace. Also, no ambiguity when using braille, so you won’t confuse a badly encoded + with an x, etc.

2 Likes

If you understand the concept then you might only need a single image to store it in your memory journey.

Example image: someone holding a large asterisk while pointing at a street address. You could also place a large ampersand in front of the address.

2 Likes