Need help with Memory palace

Hey all,

I’ve been dabbling in the memory palace technique since I started reading the art of memory which was a month ago and created a new account because it’s overwhelming.

There’s this entrance exam for an additional university that I would like to go to and I had it yesterday. A part of the exam is comprised of facts about 8 people you have to Memorize in a given time limit (8min). It’s a lot of facts ie 5 numbers, name, birthdate, birthplace AND Like additional 5 things per person. So you have around a minute to Memorize like 12 facts about a person.

I Practiced the Loci method (Memory palace) like 20h in total and thought I would use it for this task. I absolutely blew it because I couldn’t recall the info (maybe not memorable enough?) or it got all jumbled up without a chronological order which made it practically useless for answering the questions.

I want to retry the test next year but would like to score a 100% on this part. Are there any guides/Tipps/exercises to reach such a level?

Help is greatly appreciated.

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If you haven’t seen it, there are some resources on the getting started page.

That sounds a bit like the “tea party guests” event at the USA Memory Championship. I’m not sure if there will be any tips that might help you, but there are some discussions about the event here:

There’s also an old training script that gives a general idea of how the event works.

Is there information about the test online, or do you remember the exact data that you have to memorize for each person?

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Hey Josh thanks for the quick response,

The tea party event is very similar to it, except that I have to Memorize a bit less information.

Also I forgot to mention once memorised the 8 cards I have to spend 30minutes doing completely different tasks with full on concentration. Then comes the 15min phase where I answer the 25 questions.

Cards are like this:

Picture First name

Date of birth

Blood type and medication

Random 3 facts

5 numbers: ie 52716

And the Country the person lives in

I just want to know if this is manageable in 8 minutes and possible to recall after 30minutes of not thinking about it. Otherwise I’ll look for other techniques.
It’s an integral part of the test and I thought the memory palace would be my ace in the hole. Alas it was useless because I forgot the images or just took too long and they got mixed up. The information obviously has to be in chronological order.

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Memory Palace is not useless in such cases. It looks like you have not trained yourself up properly before the test. Also,you need to convert those info into images and put the converted images into the specific locations of the Memory Palace. But only using Memory Palace is not enough!

Converting the info into images is the key here! For example,if the first name is “Donald”,you visualize “Donald Trump” and put it in a loci. Then,convert the Date of Birth into images by a number system like Major System and put it in a loci of the same Memory Palace of “Trump”…and so on! If you are forgetting the images,then,you are not making memorable images…

I think,it would get easier for you with a lot of practice…

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Hey elitey,

I have established images for numbers 1-31 and months January-December. I used them by placing them at specific loci in my memory palaces. The names were things like Vahlig/gardop/…(don’t make sense) so I couldn’t prepare, random facts had to be spontaneously memorised because I couldn’t prepare.

The problem was that after the memorising phase came half an hour of doing cognitively difficult tasks and after that I couldn’t remember the images in order or at all during the questioning phase while going through the memory palace. I think it’s called the forgetting curve, the images just weren’t memorable enough and looking at for instance the first loci(my desk) it would just be blank.
I have to point out that this part is really stressful because I had only 8 min for 8cards.

I didn’t use any specific system in assigning the numbers (1=Tyrion Lannister shooting a crossbow). For the other infos I visualised/freestyled the things in different loci. If you were to test me right after the 8min memorizing phase I think I would have done much better.

I am essentially looking for a guide/drills to Memorize fast and improve recall after time has passed.

Wow what kind of exam is this? I never had these type of interesting exams :frowning:

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I’m studying law atm but this is an entrance exam for med university comprised of 40% subject material, 20% reading comprehension and EQ questions, 40% cognitive tasks like the memorisation or syllogism…

It’s tough because during the exam they try to stress you out in every way possible. I guess stress also played a major role in my memory palace failure.

augh! you want that in your head? :wink:

:smile:

“Donald Trump”, “Nina Hurtlay”, and “Osama Bin Laden” in MMF sex…I used this scenario as memory peg once. And I can still remember it…Unforgettable!!! :rofl:

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you don’t find yourself getting a little “distracted” when you land on such pegs? :grin:

Yes! I guess,that is why,it was memorable! :slight_smile:

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Random tips! :slight_smile:

I find that things which are “active” work better. Your desk isn’t very active sounding. But if you always had one of your favourite on-screen personalities sitting at it or on it, you’d remember them. Then whatever you bring to your desk, they interact with it in some way at that location.

The more stress you’re under, the more dramatic the scene needs to be to impress it upon your mind quickly. If the scene is calmer than your stress level, it won’t lodge in your mind so well, because your brain is picking priorities based on how it feels because it may need to react as instinct-brain, not clever-brain. So you need big, bold, impactful imagery and action. Add other senses to it that entice or gross you out. (Being calmer would obviously also help.)

You can use a theme for an information type. Like if it’s blood type, use a spatter of bright red, wet, blood in the scene:

George Clooney sits behind the desk as Vahlig suddenly explodes onto him. George, covered in the red stuff, stands and just shakes his head, waving his hands, saying a big “Ooh, no. No way.” [Vahlig, blood type, O (Ooh) negative]

Say there’s an unexpected but same-type fact repeated on all of them, but for whatever reason it’s complex as a type to image simply. Grab an image from a list you can use for pegs (like a shopping list) and slam an idea of the unexpected item onto it, complex as you like. Then every time that fact-type appears, use the peg image, not the complex idea image. Why do this? Because you’re used to using the peg image, and it’s more compact - important where speed is needed and you need time for better specific images.

If it’s a one-off detail, you’ll just have to be creative. But if they each have their own “one-off” - that can be a type, too.

If you put all the data for one person in each room of your palace, you’ve got a limited search area if you forget where you put it.

Names: test out if randomly generated words can be recalled well using near-sounds. Using your examples: Vahlig - Varsity league? Valley girl? Gardop - guard rope? Car drop? Attach the name to their face. Again, action can help.

Gardop with a face guard dropping over their head.

Another idea is to add another syllable or two on the end of a short word, to make it sound “better”. Kind of colouring in sound detail to make it easier to memorise:

Gardopov, Vahligenti

Test how well you are able to pull the real word from the “better” one during recall, though. The real word could be like the nickname of the “better” one. Imagine saying it to them, and them to you.

If there is no face image, make one up from the sound, imagine them saying it with an accent you’d expect from that name (or extended name), and picture them, their posture, from that.

Remember that what works best for someone else isn’t necessarily what works best for you - experiment to see what agrees with your own brain.

Hope that helps! :smiley:

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Hey Mnemosis,
That was very helpful and insightful. The thing you said about the instinct brain resonates with me a lot.

Blockquote Say there’s an unexpected but same-type fact repeated on all of them, but for whatever reason it’s complex as a type to image simply. Grab an image from a list you can use for pegs (like a shopping list) and slam an idea of the unexpected item onto it, complex as you like. Then every time that fact-type appears, use the peg image, not the complex idea image. Why do this? Because you’re used to using the peg image, and it’s more compact - important where speed is needed and you need time for better specific images.

If it’s a one-off detail, you’ll just have to be creative. But if they each have their own “one-off” - that can be a type, too.

Is this concerning Allergies? I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Should I use a peg system like for instance the alphabet where A is an airplane and then if the allergy is Cat hair, I’ll imagine a cat flying an airplane?

Also I use my apartment as one of my memory palaces, should my bedroom be for Card number 1, my living room card number 2… is that what you meant?

Thanks so much

I’ll admit to not clearly understanding what specific help is being requested in this thread… But if you use your apartment as one of your memory palaces, I’d encourage you to consolidate the information much more than “Card 1 in the bedroom, Card 2 in the living room.”

Mentally walk through your space and look at every corner. What’s hanging on the walls, what furniture do you have, are there shelves/drawers in it, objects on tables, etc., etc.? Each of those places can be a location for storing information, if needed.

With a memory palace, the order comes naturally from what you encounter as you mentally walk through the space. You don’t need to number those locations (unless it’s important that you’re able to say, “XX is number 32.”) So it just becomes a matter of creating memorable images and then placing them in your chosen locations. (They can either replace the items that are actually there in reality or somehow interact with them.)

Bob

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Sorry I haven’t responded for a few days! Crises intervened.

I’m glad it made sense! :smiley: It’s worth examining how your brain responds under different pressures, and how you can adjust or control those pressures internally (so to speak) as well as find strategies to cope with them. Effectively, you’re trying to train for specific “competition conditions”.

People who achieve extreme memory feats sometimes will do things like wear ear defenders and blindfolds to block out distractions. Luckily, these people have the same kind of brain you do, and you’re not trying to reach those extremes for this! These same people can do similar memorising to what we’re talking about when being interviewed on TV, which is a similar stress level, and preparation type too, to the kind of job interview you were talking about - so it can be done! :slight_smile: The key in any ability is, of course, practice - and in this case, having strategies in place as well as practicing in less than ideal conditions after starting in more ideal conditions.

What do I mean by this? Things that are, so to speak, the permanent furniture of your mind, you need to get solidly by thinking about them carefully and in varied detail.

Let’s take the desk. Think: How big is it? Can you lift it? How would it respond to being thrown around? Does it have drawers that might fall out or rattle if it was flipped? what sound does it make when you drag it, and where do you grip it? What does it feel like on the surface, along the edge,underneath, on the supports? What sound does it make when you tap it or kick it? What might it taste like? (It’s amazing how we can recall what things probably taste like, despite not having put furniture in our mouths intentionally since we were crawling about the floor as a baby!) Get the thing clear in your mind while you have more ideal time to study it. (and if you’ve got George Clooney, or whatever, in there to make it more lively as well, get him involved, and his tie flying about, or rebuttoning his jacket after flipping the desk - get to know his actions here a little, so his personality is part of the location, too.)

Then when you’re in the moment of using it, you can think “and the desk flips over!” and you easily imagine the weight, the sound when it bounces and lands, the rattle of your pens and keys in the drawer (and Clooney’s tie) - and this is without the other action you need to add to tie this all together into a memory. Then you have more mental space to think of what you’re adding to the new scene.

Okay, this is two things.

Say there are 8 cards, and 3 have allergies listed. You don’t have an image for allergies - and you’re drawing a blank on an easy image. So you bring up the airplane peg. Like you would a shopping list, you associate the complex image or actions of allergies to the airplane. Big sneeze from the plane, chaotic tornado-like airport scene, say. You can spend a few extra seconds on this, as you’re going to reuse it for the three cards.

On one card, the allergy is cat hair. So a cat flying a tiny airplane, in my head. Put it somewhere in the room for that card, actively doing something at the location. Then, during recall, you know the room for the person, you need the allergies so you look for the airplane you used for that - there’s the cat crashing the plane, screeching as it’s quiffed blonde wig flies off, so you know it’s cat hair. Boom.

The other 2 rooms have an airplane and associated image for that allergy, too.

Part of what you need is ease of quick review - you just need the detail in full recall later from the ‘big clue’ you left yourself. With airplane for allergies, the airplane is easier to bring in, even alter, in other scenarios. “Why is there a peanut plane? Oh yeah!” / “The model airplane is badly built, covered in glue … Ah, gluten!” - whatever works for you.

Then when doing a rapid review (try to make time for it), it’s just “peanut plane”, “glued airplane”, not “peanut allergy”, “gluten allergy” which is harder to picture. What the airplane represents is going to be easier than the random image you might try to invent for all allergies, and if you don’t know what your airplane means (during recall, not throughout the review!), check what your original peg airplane is doing. If it’s sneezing and getting face swellings, for example, you should recall it’s allergies you’re thinking of.

(Obviously, things that come up a lot in usual life, you form better images for so that they reference something more clearly - I use a yellow telephone for phone numbers, for example, so I know the number following is a telephone number without other clues(*) - but in an urgent situation, you want memorable now, and powerfully.)

Now specifically the one-off detail: If only one card says “cat hair allergy” but nothing about anything similar on any other card, that’s a single detail to incorporate in one room. In this case, I’d attach it to the key image at the doorway, just as you come through. You might still use the airplane to make it make sense, but that’s extra detail you may need time for.

But if each card has one unique detail, like “cat hair allergy”, “long term smoker”, “fear of heights”, etc. Then that can be a “type” as a set. So, if this is the only unique detail of each, I’d use a Santa sack, with a bewigged cat, cigar, or big eiffel tower in each room accordingly.

If there’s more than one unique detail - say the first two are the same person - I might steal a peg for each “set”, or (in this situation) I might try and get both together (cigar smoking sickly cat in a Santa sack) if there’s only a maximum of two.

You need the strategy to fit the data, but to remain flexible. You don’t know exactly what data you’re going to meet in this kind of test, but you know it will be a limited set, divided into at least two “dimensions” - first by a card (or person - the key identifier) and second by detail. Some details are simple to image - birthdays with birthday cake, wedding anniversaries with brides, telephone numbers with phones - so those we can partly prepare for (number and date encoding, for example)

(* I use an old-style yellow telephone, because it’s unusual and specific. As a telephone, it tells me what the item is, but also because it’s yellOW, and all numbers in the UK begin with a zerO (0) or “Oh”, I don’t encode that digit in the rare occasions I use it, saving space and time.)

Yes, that’s the idea. Perhaps put the key image for which card it is in the doorway (then you have to pass it) or on the door if that works more naturally for you - something relating to their picture or name is a good example. Then you know facts about that card must be in that room. If you need to recall all the details for a card, they’re together in the room. If you need all the allergies from all the cards, look for the airplane in each room, which takes longer but should still be fairly swift.

Oh, and it’s worth remembering to include a “none” as a simple image you can reuse. I use a hula hoop, pink, stripey, shiny smooth. It’s useful if there are things like cards with no allergies. Putting in an airplane losing its wings as it goes through a shiny striped hula hoop, for example, gives you the airplane for that room, and then you aren’t thinking “where is it?” and worrying you’ve forgotten something. It’s there, and the answer to allergies here is “none”. You might not need to do that, but I thought I’d share the option, in case it helps.

A more advanced strategy, overall, if the cards give information in a specific and fixed order, is the following:

  1. Ensure you know which item is which in each room of your palace - which is the third in that room, which is the seventh in that room - with ease. This takes a lot of practice, but if you mark out every fifth and/or tenth with some visual clue you’ll recognise quickly, you can navigate through more easily.
  2. Use (preferably) an ordered peg list (because it separates content more clearly), and at each point place the image of the information type: Name (name tag - I’m assuming you’re using a picture for the room identifier, and the first location for the name itself, but that’s up to you), Eye Colour (eyeball), Allergies (atchoo!), Favourite Movie (old style projector) - whatever they are. This is like your “master definition” list for the task.
  3. Go through each card, and give each card a room. You don’t need to lock in what type of item is being stored - that’s in the other list - only the data itself. So, in a room, the second item may be “Blue”, because the second item on the card is “Eye Colour:Blue”. You have “Eye Colour” in your peg list, so you don’t need it in this image in the room, but if a blue eyeball is going to be more memorable for “blue” than a blue moon or a blueberry, don’t let it stop you!
  4. Try to review it all at least once. remember, during review you’re not “interpreting”, you’re just checking the objects are still there - position 2 = blue moon, etc.
  5. During later recall, you can list out the peg list items, then just go through each room to recall the items in it for each card. Alternately, if the questions are “Who had the blue eyes?” you can find the “eye” on your peg list - there it is, at number 2 - then go to the second item in each room to find the blue one, or multiple blue ones.

The two advantages are that you can go straight to the item to recall it, and that it changes things from “cat+plane” to just “cat” because the position indicates the item type - but this needs much more practice with the locations to be worthwhile, so might be best trained on if you’re going to use the spaces a lot in the future!

Notice that the “unique detail” set mentioned before can also be one of the things on the peg list - again, a Santa sack to symbolise ‘all kinds of things’ - so even those can be incorporated.

Again, sorry for not responding sooner! :smiley:

Hi Bob!

I’ll admit to not clearly understanding what specific help is being requested in this thread… But if you use your apartment as one of your memory palaces, I’d encourage you to consolidate the information much more than “Card 1 in the bedroom, Card 2 in the living room.”

Each card is a set of information on an individual, I believe. So each card is multiple pieces of information, not singular ones, so each rooms objects would contain each cards various details. Also, we’re looking at speed over compression/consolidation, if that makes any difference, with a degree of distraction being employed before recall is requested.

Mentally walk through your space and look at every corner. What’s hanging on the walls, what furniture do you have, are there shelves/drawers in it, objects on tables, etc., etc.? Each of those places can be a location for storing information, if needed.

I used to use structure - corners and walls - for loci, but I found that rooms blurred into each other too much (I may try again with clearer rooms at some point). Tying things to objects is much better, in my opinion/small experience, as long as you have your list of locations clear.

Speaking of which: it’s a good idea to make a list of your locations until you have them thoroughly down - and even then, keep a copy somewhere. that vital bit of information you can’t work out where it is may in fact be at the small table you forgot was put there!

With a memory palace, the order comes naturally from what you encounter as you mentally walk through the space. You don’t need to number those locations (unless it’s important that you’re able to say, “XX is number 32.”)

Good point. It’s about how you want to use it, and commitment you want to put in for efficiency and speed. Choosing locations can feel arbitrary, I’ve found - sometimes they stand out to you, but sometimes you go right by them, in some cases. It’s about making each one meaningful to you in some way, and seeing the spatial relationships in your mind’s eye so you know where the next ‘stop’ is.

@LynneKelly in Memory Craft (a book I’m reading through now!) suggested that naming locations in a unique or amusing way can make them more memorable, as well as the classic of having indicators along a set of loci every 5th and 10th locus, so you can more easily navigate and recognise if you missed one or two.

Ian T :slight_smile:

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Is there any way they monitor your thoughts during the exam o.O ? What type of tasks are you assigned for 30 minutes? After using mnemonics intensely during those 8 minutes, you could actually be creative and recall some of the stuff you came up with during those 30 minutes, like every 10 minutes or something.
Unless, of course, the tasks you’re given are engaging your mind as well; then, you’d still have to squeeze in some recollection. If your mnemonics were strong enough and you were able to recall them about 1 minute after installing them, you’d just need at least 1 more reiteration so that you’ll be sure to have it 100%.
Organization and practice are what will help you make optimal use of time on this exam. It does sound quite rigorous, but preparation is key!

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